The Bucs got their offense into gear last Sunday and want to continue their drive to the playoffs Saturday night
Both teams can't win Saturday night. But the one that does can go to the playoffs.
When the Baltimore Ravens (9-5) travel to meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) Saturday night in a special telecast of ABC's NFL Monday Night Football (9:00 PM ET), a lot will be on the line.
The Ravens, returning to the site of their Super Bowl XXXV victory, are in the playoffs with a win or tie (or a Seattle loss or tie). The Buccaneers earn their fourth playoff berth in five years with a win and an Atlanta loss or tie.
"These are two teams that are very similar right now," said Baltimore Head Coach Brian Billick. "We're dealing with the same level of emotion and expectation."
The head coach who will stand across the sideline agrees. "We're on the outside looking in," said Tampa Bay's Tony Dungy. "There's a group of teams that are in the playoffs. We're not one of that group yet. With two games left, if you're not in the playoffs, it's pretty much a must-win situation."
The Bucs have been winning, with four victories in their past five games. In addition, the club is 4-1 all-time in Monday Night Football home games. But perhaps most important, Tampa Bay is 10-0 all-time under Dungy in December home games at Raymond James Stadium (including playoffs).
Baltimore also has closed seasons well under its head coach. Since Billick took the reins in 1999, the Ravens have a 22-5 record (.815) in games played after November 1 (including playoffs).
"We want to win this one to go into the playoffs with momentum," said Baltimore tackle Jonathan Ogden. "It's not good to be going into the playoffs coming off a loss. We just want to keep winning right now."
Both clubs want to keep winning, and both often do so by keeping their opponents out of the end zone. The Ravens allow 17.1 points per game, the Bucs 18.1 - both ranking among the top averages in the NFL.
"They're probably playing a little bit like us, not as consistent as they would like but they certainly have a strong defense and are throwing the ball pretty well," said Dungy.
"We've got a Tampa team that's fighting kind of like we are," Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "I looked at the scoreboard and they hung 40 points up on New Orleans, which has a pretty good defense. We have our work cut out for us. But we placed ourselves in this situation, and only we can get ourselves out of it."
Over the past three seasons, Baltimore and Tampa Bay have been among the toughest teams in the league to score against. Following are the teams allowing the fewest points per game since 1999:
|Team||Points Per Game Allowed|
As usual, you can follow all of the action online Saturday night in the Buccaneers.com GameDay section.
On Saturday, Buccaneers.com will begin reporting from Raymond James Stadium at 8:00 p.m., ET, one hour before kickoff. Your only source allowed in the Bucs' locker room prior to the game, Buccaneers.com will provide two pre-game reports, complete with Head Coach Tony Dungy's thoughts. Once the Bucs and Ravens have kicked off, look to the same space for game updates after each quarter.
Elsewhere in the GameDay section, you'll find links to constantly updated statistics, injury information, lineups, game photos, live play-by-play, postgame video conferences and more.