It was a game of inches, close calls for Titans



Justin Gage caught 10 passes for 135 yards, one yard off the franchise's single-game playoff recor
Facing third-and-10 at the Baltimore 19, two Ravens tackled Gage on the 10. Instead of risking it on fourth-and-1, the Titans elected to kick a 27-yard field goal, which Rob Bironas made with 4:23 left in the game, tying the score at 10.

In such a close contest, that yard could have won Tennessee the game.

"It is everybody executing to the 't,' being at the right spot at the right time, because as easily as it bounced our way it could have bounced their way," Ravens safety Ed Reed said on the number of game-changing plays that went Baltimore's way.

At any rate, Gage helped Kerry Collins to his second-best total of the season, catching 10 passes for 135 yards.

Ernest Givins holds the franchise record with 136 receiving yards against Pittsburgh Dec. 31, 1989.

"I thought Kerry did a great job. The receivers, Justin [Gage], they got open and made catches," head coach Jeff Fisher said. "We stressed going into the week that we were going to need to run after the catch and we had to pick up a lot of key first downs. The problem ... was just getting points once we got into the plus territory."

JOHNSON INJURED:Chris Johnson was busting through Baltimore's defense until an ankle injury sidelined him in the second quarter.

After the game, Johnson said he still didn't know what caused the injury. He said whenever he stood on his toes he felt pain in his ankle.

"I was trying to come back in all the way up 'til the end of the third quarter. It just wasn't working out for me," Johnson said.

Johnson gained 100 total yards of offense before the injury, including an eight-yard touchdown run that gave Tennessee a 7-0 first quarter lead. Johnson gained 72 yards rushing in 25 minutes of game time, including a 32-yard burst up the middle, and turned a swing pass into a 28-yard gain to set up his own touchdown.

Television cameras caught him in the second half standing on the sideline with a solemn expression. LenDale White rushed for 38 yards in the second half. Quinton Ganther also had one carry for minus-one yard.

Collins said the offense missed Johnson's speed, but said the injury didn't cost Tennessee the game.

DISPUTED CALLS:The playoffs, always a breeding ground for controversial calls, came through again on Saturday.

Replays left two crucial calls in doubt hours after Baltimore's 13-10 win over Tennessee. On Baltimore's game-winning drive, the play clock registered zero before center Jason Brown snapped the ball to Joe Flacco. Flacco completed a 23-yard pass to tight end Todd Heap on the play, setting up a 43-yard Matt Stover field goal.

A delay of game penalty would have made it third-and-7.

Referee Terry McAulay said it wasn't a reviewable play.

"The back judge is responsible for that. ... When [the clock] hits zero, which is high here, he goes to the ball. So there is going to be a natural delay from zero to getting to the ball," McAulay said. "And when he gets to the ball, if it is being snapped, we don't call it. So there can be a natural delay."

Also in the fourth quarter, Flacco came perilously close to stepping out of the back of the end zone facing a third-and-10 from the 1. Replays made it difficult to tell whether or not Flacco stepped out, but head coach Jeff Fisher didn't challenge the call.

McAulay said he saw green between Flacco's foot and the end line.

BOTCHED EXCHANGES:With Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae out (elbow), Collins lined up behind backup Leroy Harris.

It appeared the change accounted for two fouls -- Collins fumbled a low snap and the Titans got a five-yard penalty when Harris snapped the ball before Collins was ready.

Collins took responsibility for the fumble and called the penalty a communication issue.

FLACCO SETS MILESTONE:Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to win two road playoff games.

Flacco completed 11-of-22 passes for 161 yards -- hardly among the postseason's best performance -- but hasn't thrown a playoff interception in 45 attempts.

"You read his eyes and there is nothing to read," Heap said. "You are looking at him and you are thinking, 'Does anything faze this guy?' That's the way he's been all year."

PHYSICAL AS BILLED: Ahmard Hall picked up 11 yards and a first down, clearing Tennessee from its own goal line, but most every gain came at a price. Ray Lewis clocked

Hall, dislodging the football and Hall's helmet.

That was the way it went Saturday. Among those that left the field with injuries for the Titans were Johnson, Chris Carr, Jevon Kearse and Albert Haynesworth.

Baltimore offensive tackle Willie Anderson played through what the training staff described as a stinger, and Le'Ron McClain, Samari Rolle and Terrell Suggs also left the game with injuries.

"It was a heavyweight fight," Suggs said. "We would've been happy if nobody got injured, but it was a dogfight and there was a lot of bloodshed."

PLAYOFFS RETURN:Saturday's loss to Baltimore was the first playoff game in Nashville since Tennessee hosted Pittsburgh in the Divisional Round on Jan. 11, 2003. Tennessee won that game 34-31.

COLLINS NOT READY TO CONSIDER FUTURE:Collins said it was too early to think about his future with the Tennessee Titans.

"I'd love to be here, but it's too soon after a game like this to think about it," said Collins, who becomes a free agent this coming off-season.

The 36-year-old quarterback completed 58.3 percent of his passes this season, throwing 12 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 15 regular-season starts.

Collins started every game after replacing an injured Vince Young on Sept. 7 against Jacksonville and led Tennessee to a 13-3 regular season.

"After tonight, it's hard to feel good about this year. It's hard to see the positives," Collins said. "It's disappointing to end like this. To think that we're going to feel any better about it because of the regular season, I think, is not going to be the case."

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