Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce blocks a field-goal attempt by Titans kicker Rob Bironas with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter yesterday to give the Ravens a 27-26 win in Nashville.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- This is exactly why the Baltimore Ravens wanted Steve McNair.
The veteran threw his third touchdown of the game against his former team with 3:35 left yesterday, helping the Ravens rally from a big deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans, 27-26, for their best start.
The Ravens, who improved to 7-2 for the first time, came back after trailing by 19 points -- the biggest comeback in team history. And McNair had a lot to do with it.
"His demeanor, it just never ceased to amaze me," coach Brian Billick said. "The calm this man has. At no point have I ever seen him blink there, and there was a few times to blink out there."
This game had enough to keep it interesting as McNair's homecoming to play the team that traded him to the Ravens in June because Baltimore offered more than Tennessee was willing to pay.
Then the teams combined for a handful of penalties. Billick even picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty for yelling at an official.
But McNair gave the Titans an expensive lesson.
"That's why you play this game," McNair said. "You're a competitor. Those are the things you go back and look at and say, 'Hey, this is what we get paid for: To come back and win games.' "
The Titans (2-7) had a last chance to send McNair back to Maryland a loser. But Trevor Pryce blocked a 43-yard field-goal attempt by Rob Bironas with 33 seconds left, allowing McNair to celebrate on the field where he had won so many games before.
"The fact that we came out of here with a win is pretty amazing to me, quite honestly," Pryce said.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher could only congratulate his former quarterback.
"When you have a chance to win the game, you have to take advantage of it, and we didn't," Fisher said.
Baltimore needed McNair because a defense that came in as one of the NFL's stingiest overall and against the run gave up 162 yards rushing with Ray Lewis out with a sore back.
McNair finished 29 of 47 for 373 yards passing, including a 65-yard touchdown pass to Mark Clayton that was his longest completion since the 2003 season.
The Titans had every chance to show McNair they're doing just fine without him.
Lamont Thompson intercepted two of McNair's passes.
And McNair's successor and protege Vince Young ran for a touchdown as the Titans scored 23 consecutive points in the first half, and that included 16 off McNair mistakes -- a safety when McNair backed out of the end zone under pressure, a touchdown drive off the ensuing free kick and Travis Henry scored a 1-yard touchdown run after the first interception.
But McNair, the winningest quarterback in Tennessee history, knows how to win.
He found Clayton wide open on his second pass of the game. He also connected with Ovie Mughelli for a 30-yarder to start the comeback, and McNair set up a pair of field goals by Matt Stover.
Then he put the Ravens ahead to stay by tossing a 12-yarder to another ex-Tennessee teammate, Derrick Mason. Stover's extra point put Baltimore ahead, 27-26.
The rebuilding Titans led, 26-17, at halftime, scoring almost as many points in 30 minutes as they in any game this season against a defense that had allowed only three touchdowns inside its 20.