Baltimore Ravens Advance to AFC Championship: Is It 2000 All Over Again?

Vincent JacksonCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2009

After Baltimore escaped from a war with the Tennessee Titans and a 13-10 victory in their divisional playoff game, I started thinking: Is it 2000 all over again?

The defense may be a little older and not on the same historic pace it once was, but it still has the same hunger and intensity and they still have Ray Lewis, who is obsessed with winning another ring and cementing his legacy as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history.

As for if it's 2000 all over again, many will make the argument that it's not. After all, there's no Trent Dilfer, Jamal Lewis, Tony Siragusa, Jonathan Ogden, Brian Billick, or Marvin Lewis.  There are, however, many eerie similarities in how their 2000 and 2008 seasons parallel:

  • Finished 11-5, earned AFC wild-card spot
  • Defeated Miami in wild-card round and top-ranked Tennessee on the road in divisional round
  • Defense finished in top three in all statistical categories
  • Super Bowl was/is in Tampa

Consider this, the Steelers in 2005 and the Giants last year all had to win three road games to get to the Super Bowl. Both teams ended up winning it all.

A win in either Pittsburgh or San Diego will give the rookie quarterback/coach combination of Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh an unprecedented third straight road playoff win. 

Back in 2000, this Ravens defense was playing at a much higher level with a very pedestrian offense. Though the defense is still playing well, you get the feeling that the offense is almost just as good. 

Flacco gives Baltimore a vertical passing game not seen in franchise history and though he is asked to be a "game manager" like Dilfer at times, he is not afraid to take chances. 

Lewis is still the driving force of the defense he commanded back in 2000 when he was named both Defensive Player of the Year and MVP of Super Bowl XXXV; the quarterback of both opposing teams: Kerry Collins, playing for the Giants (2000) and Titans (2008).

Now in order for all of this talk to be somewhat legitimate, the Ravens still have to advance to the Super Bowl and with the AFC title game in either San Diego or Pittsburgh that is still a tall task to overcome, but Baltimore could care less.