Baltimore makes playoffs for first time since 1977

Posted: Monday, December 11, 2000

The last time Baltimore reached the NFL playoffs, the team was called the Colts, and the memory of Johnny Unitas was still fresh.

On Sunday, Baltimore made it back.

Trent Dilfer threw two touchdown passes and the host Ravens clinched a postseason spot, beating the San Diego Chargers 24-3.

The Ravens (10-4) won their team-record fifth in a row and will probably begin the postseason at home in a wild-card game. It would be the first NFL playoff game involving Baltimore since 1977.

''I'm very happy for the fans. This is a football town starved for success,'' said Dilfer, playing his first season with the Ravens. ''Getting to the playoffs is huge.''

Fans in Philadelphia and Tennessee had reason to cheer, too, as their teams earned berths. The Eagles downed Cleveland 35-24 and the Titans beat Cincinnati 35-3.

Oakland routed the New York Jets 31-7 at night to qualify for the playoffs..

Before the game in Baltimore, Art Modell was honored for his 40 years as an NFL owner. Instead of introducing the offense or defense, the Ravens had Modell walk on the field with team captains Shannon Sharpe and Ray Lewis.

''I'm happy for the organization. I'm happy for the city of Baltimore,'' said Brian Billick, who received his first celebratory drenching as a head coach during the two-minute warning.

San Diego (1-13) absorbed its franchise-record 13th loss.

Eagles 35, Browns 24

Donovan McNabb passed for a career-high 390 yards and four touchdowns as Philadelphia clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 1996.

The visiting Eagles (10-5) kept up their startling turnaround under coach Andy Reid from a 5-11 season in 1999.

McNabb threw two TD passes to Torrance Small in the first half and added two more scoring tosses to Charles Johnson in the third quarter.

Titans 35, Bengals 3

Steve McNair, who barely practiced last week because of a sprained knee, threw three touchdown passes as the defending AFC champions earned a return trip to the postseason.

Eddie George caught a pair of TD passes and ran for another score. Tennessee (11-3) moved ahead of Miami in the race for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Titans ended a seven-quarter TD drought, striking early against visiting Cincinnati (3-11).

Raiders 31, Jets 7

At Oakland, the Raiders (11-3) scored on Rich Gannon's passes to Tim Brown and Andre Rison, Tyrone Wheatley's 1-yard run and Eric Allen's interception return on a deflected pass. It will be the team's first playoff appearance since 1993, and its first representing Oakland since 1980.

Curtis Martin, who last week went over 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth straight season, was held to just 17 yards for New York (9-5), which needs one win to make the playoffs.

Rams 40, Vikings 29

The defending champions ended a three-game losing streak, getting a team-record four touchdowns rushing from Marshall Faulk against Minnesota (11-3). The Rams (9-5), who also had lost three in a row at home, celebrated their first two touchdowns with the banned ''Bob 'N Weave'' dance -- which Vikings coach Dennis Green, co-chairman of the NFL's competition committee, helped outlaw.

Faulk's touchdowns gave him a league-leading and career-high 19. He had 135 yards rushing on 25 carries, topping 1,000 yards for the fourth straight season, and 43 yards on six receptions.

Kurt Warner, who threw four interceptions in a 16-3 loss at Carolina last week that was a disastrous return from a broken little finger, was sharp, going 27-for-32 for 346 yards.

Broncos 31, Seahawks 24

Rookie Mike Anderson ran for 131 yards and scored two second-half touchdowns, leading the Broncos (10-4) to their sixth straight victory.

The host Broncos, who beat Seattle 38-31 just two weeks ago, have gotten 577 yards rushing from Anderson in the last three games, including an NFL rookie-record 251 last week against New Orleans.

Jon Kitna threw three touchdown passes, all in the second half, for Seattle (5-9).

Saints 31, 49ers 27

At San Francisco, Terry Allen scored on a 1-yard run with 46 seconds left as the Saints clinched just their sixth winning season in the last 34 years. New Orleans (9-5) trailed 27-17 with six minutes to play, but Aaron Brooks led the Saints on two late scoring drives to keep their NFC West title hopes alive.

New Orleans also weathered a huge game from 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia, who passed for 305 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two scores. San Francisco is 5-9.

Giants 30, Steelers 10

Kerry Collins passed for 333 yards and two touchdowns as New York moved closer to a playoff spot.

Amani Toomer caught nine passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. The NFC East leaders (10-4) won their third in a row since coach Jim Fassel guaranteed the Giants would make the postseason for the first time since 1997.

Pittsburgh (7-7) began the day with slim playoff hopes, and saw them fade further as the host Giants shut down Kordell Stewart and Jerome Bettis.

Bucs 16, Dolphins 13

Tampa Bay prevented Miami from clinching a playoff spot, intercepting Jay Fielder four times and forcing him to fumble.

Martin Gramatica made a tiebreaking 46-yard field goal with 8:12 left. The Buccaneers (9-5) won in the rain and on the road and stayed in the middle of the NFC wild-card race.

Damien Robinson protected Tampa Bay's sixth victory in seven games with an interception at his 30 with 14 seconds left.

Jaguars 44, Cardinals 10

Fred Taylor broke his team record for yards rushing in a season as Jacksonville won its fourth in a row, routing visiting Arizona.

Taylor ran for 137 yards, topping the 100-yard mark for the eighth straight game. He left midway through the third quarter with 1,237 yards, surpassing the mark of 1,223 he set as a rookie.

Chiefs 15, Panthers 14

Elvis Grbac's first 18 passes were caught -- 16 by his own receivers and two intercepted by Carolina in the end zone -- and Kansas City hung on at home.

The Chiefs (6-8) stopped a five-game losing streak. They did not punt for the first time since 1991.

Packers 26, Lions 13

Ahman Green scored two late touchdowns and Brett Favre won once again in frosty weather.

Favre improved to 26-0 at home in temperatures 34 or below. It was 25 with a wind chill of 5 at Green Bay. Detroit tried to prepare itself for the tough conditions by practicing outdoors all week.

The Packers (7-7) sent the Lions (8-6) to their 10th straight loss in Wisconsin.

Bears 24, Patriots 17

Shane Matthews completed a team-record 15 passes and Chicago, spurred by the play-calling of John Shoop, won at Solider Field.

Shoop, the quarterbacks coach, directed the offense for the first time after last week's departure of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton to BYU. Chicago's James Allen ran for a 16-yard touchdown that put him over 1,000 yards for the season.

The game ended with 10 seconds showing on the clock when officials ruled an illegal-motion penalty on New England, which was driving in Bears territory with no timeouts, caused time to expire. The result left both teams at 4-10.

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