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By Terry McCormick

sports@timesfreepress.com

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Titans had plenty of blame to spread around in Saturday's 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC divisional playoffs.

But it would have been hard to find a Titans player taking the loss harder than tight end Alge Crumpler, whose fourth-quarter fumble snuffed out Tennessee's last best chance to score a touchdown and take the lead with just under nine minutes to play.

Crumpler caught a pass from Kerry Collins to convert a third down on the play but was hit inside the Ravens' 10 by Jim Leonhard, knocking the ball free. Baltimore's Fabian Washington recovered at the 1, ending the threat.

And though the Titans tied the game on their next possession, Crumpler found that small consolation in the end, considering the final outcome.

"I have no answer for this feeling right now. I've made the playoffs, and I've lost playoff games before, but this is the worst feeling I've ever had," he said.

Crumpler caught the winning touchdown pass earlier this season at Baltimore but was distraught at losing the football and the game Saturday.

"I understand the magnitude of what we've built here and this type of game, a possession game, and we lose possessions," he said. "Especially being the cause of it, it's a feeling I don't know when I'll ever get rid of."

The Titans let the game slip away with three costly turnovers that offset a 391-yard offensive performance.

Collins was quick to defend Crumpler in postgame interviews.

"Alge is one of the most professional guys that I've been around," Collins said. "He is one of those guys that does everything right. I feel bad for him, but he is not the one to blame in this situation. We all had our opportunities. We all share the blame. He is a heck of a guy and a heck of a professional."

The Titans also lost a LenDale White fumble near the end of the first half when he would have had a first down and put the team in field-goal position.

"I am definitely taking the blame for us losing this game, because I feel like I could have stepped up a lot more and held onto the ball and give us momentum going into the second half," White said.

Johnson out

Perhaps the game began to unravel for the Titans late in the second quarter when rookie running back Chris Johnson left with a right ankle injury and did not return. Johnson had rushed for 72 yards on 11 carries, including the Titans' only touchdown, an 8-yard scamper in the first quarter.

Johnson also had a 28-yard pass reception in which he sidestepped Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott in open space.

"I didn't feel it until I got to the sideline. I tried to go back in, but it just wouldn't let me," Johnson said. "I got a test. I tried to come back in ... but it just wasn't working out for me. I'm real disappointed. My first-ever playoff game, I wanted to win real bad and get to the Super Bowl, which was my goal. Knowing I can't go in there and help my team, and just being on the sidelines and watching them struggle, it hurts."

The Titans had 116 yards on the ground, but just 37 in the second half without Johnson.

"Chris gives us a burst, and he gives us speed," Collins said. "When he got hurt, it took a little bit of that speed out of the game."

Jevon Kearse also suffered a right ankle injury but returned.

Return man Chris Carr injured his ribs and did not play late in the game.

"The first kickoff return of the second half, I hurt my ribs. I went back in for a couple of plays, but the last kickoff return I had, I made it worse," Carr said.

Questionable calls

While the Titans had issues holding on to the football, two second-half calls by officials did not help them.

Backed up against their own goal line after the White fumble, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco appeared to step on the back line as he was rolling out. No call was made, and the Titans did not challenge the play.

"I think my foot wrapped around and came back in bounds," Flacco said. "I almost pulled a Dan Orlovsky (Detroit quarterback who stepped on the line). I don't think I was out. The only place I saw it was on the big screen, and it's not really zoomed in there. I wasn't out because they didn't call it."

Referee Terry McAuley agreed with the Baltimore quarterback.

"In my opinion, he did not step on the line," McAuley said. "There was green or whatever the color was between the end line and his foot."

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said the Titans got no look at a replay, although CBS showed it only once.

"We didn't get a view or a look or anything," Fisher said.

Though that no-call could have cost the Titans two points, a play-clock issue hurt worse. A 23-yard completion to Todd Heap on the Ravens' winning drive was allowed to stand even though the play clock was clearly at zero.

"I was told that upstairs," Fisher said. "It was not reviewable."

Had the play been called back, it would have been third-and-7 for the Ravens from their own 27, instead of first-and-10 from the Titans' 45 and just four plays from the winning field goal.

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

Said Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck: "That was a big play. It was a critical down. If it did expire, I wasn't aware. That's their job to make that call. If they feel it didn't expire, then it didn't expire."

As for the safety that wasn't called, Bulluck said, "I'm not even looking at any of that stuff. I didn't even notice that. I have no idea. They missed that, and since we're talking about the referees, they let a lot of stuff go as far as the Ravens being extra physical after the (whistle) and throwing fouls on us.

"We don't want to go there. The season is over, and I don't want the NFL to take any of my offseason money."

Free-agent questions

Two key Titans who will be free agents, Collins and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, didn't really want to address their futures immediately after the game.

"I don't know. I can't tell that. I can't see the future or anything like that. Hopefully not, but we'll see," Haynesworth said when asked if Saturday was his final game as a Titan after seven years.

Collins said he would wait to deal with it as well.

"I don't know," Collins said. "I'm going to think about that one when I stop thinking about this game, which probably won't be for a while. Whatever happens is going to happen. I would love to be here, but it's just too soon after a game like this to really think about it."

Gage outstanding

Receiver Justin Gage was just 1 yard short of Ernest Givins' 1989 franchise playoff record for receiving yards. Gage caught 10 passes for 135 yards.

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