Comparing the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl Teams

Kyle OlandCorrespondent IIJanuary 27, 2013

Comparing the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl Teams

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    This Sunday will mark the second time in the history of the Baltimore Ravens that a team has reached the Super Bowl.

    Back in 2000, Brian Billick coached the Ravens to a 12-4 regular season record and a spot in Super Bowl XXXV, where they ended up defeating the New York Giants 34-7.

    That 2000 team featured one of the toughest defenses to ever play. Led by Ray Lewis, that Baltimore defense allowed only 970 rushing yards during the regular season, an NFL record for 16 games. Incredibly, that defense allowed a mere five rushing touchdowns all year and scooped up 26 fumbles.

    Add on 23 interceptions and the total number of turnovers forced totals 49, which was by far the best total that season. Furthermore, the 2000 Ravens only allowed 165 points all year—an average of 10.5 per game.

    On the offensive side of the ball, Trent Dilfer, inserted as the starter midway through the regular season, led a conservative offense that didn’t have to score many points.

    The current Ravens, coached by John Harbaugh, finished the regular season at 10-6, and then went on a torrid streak to reach Super Bowl XLVII.

    While the 2000 Ravens were carried to a Super Bowl by a stifling defense, this year’s Ravens have been led by Joe Flacco and the offense.

    Inconsistent at times during the regular season, the offense and Flacco exploded in the playoffs. In Baltimore’s three playoff wins, Flacco has thrown for 853 yards and eight touchdowns.

    The defense, while not nearly as tough as previous units, has improved drastically throughout the season.

    It’s been 12 years since the Ravens have been to the Super Bowl, and since then Baltimore has transformed from a brick wall defense to a high-powered offense.

    Here is a comparison of the two Super Bowl teams in Baltimore Ravens history. 

Quarterbacks

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    The 2000 Ravens featured Trent Dilfer as their starting quarterback. Dilfer was never really asked to do anymore than manage the game. With the defense of Baltimore, he didn’t have to be great, he just had to be average—and that is exactly what he was.

    In his 11 games played (eight starts), Dilfer threw for 1,502 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

    Joe Flacco, the strong-armed quarterback for the current Ravens, is capable of making every throw on the field. With one of the strongest arms in the NFL, Flacco takes shots down the field often, causing opposing defenses to worry about giving up a long throw, which in turn loosens up the underneath routes.

    In just his fifth year, Flacco has been to the playoffs every year, recording at least one win in each, while playing in two AFC Championship games. In addition, after defeating Tom Brady last week, Flacco recorded his sixth road playoff win, which is the most in NFL history for any starting quarterback.

    Advantage: 2012 Ravens

Running Backs

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    Led by rookie running back Jamal Lewis, the 2000 Ravens relied heavily on their run game, hoping to control the clock and grind out yards. Lewis, a burly, powerful running back rushed for 1,364 yards and six touchdowns.

    While Lewis was not much of a factor in the pass game, his backup Priest Holmes contributed with 32 receptions along with 588 rushing yards.

    The one-two punch of Lewis and Holmes was a big reason why Baltimore won the Super Bowl.

    Just like the 2000 Ravens had two quality backs, the current Ravens feature two players capable of breaking off long runs at any moment.

    Ray Rice, the feature back, is one of the best all-around running backs in the NFL. The diminutive, but super talented Rice gained 1,621 yards from scrimmage this year and added 10 touchdowns.

    His backup, rookie Bernard Pierce chipped in with 532 yards rushing. During the Ravens playoff run, Pierce has come up big. The University of Temple product rushed for 103 yards in Baltimore’s win over the Colts.

    Advantage: 2012 Ravens

Receivers

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    While the 2000 Ravens did not have a go-to receiver, they did have a number of players who contributed to the offense.

    The biggest name of those receivers was Shannon Sharpe. The Hall of Fame tight end led Baltimore in receptions (67), yards (810) and touchdowns (five). Sharpe was a reliable target for Dilfer and easily the biggest threat of any Baltimore receiver.

    Qadry Ismail was the second leading receiver, catching 49 balls for 655 yards and five touchdowns. The speedy Ismail was a deep threat for the Ravens. No other player recorded more than 40 receptions.

    The current Ravens roster features a number of talented players. Leading the way are Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.

    Boldin, a reliable veteran, is adept at making tough catches and working the middle of the field. The veteran led Baltimore in receptions (65) and yards (921).  

    His teammate, Smith, is the definition of a deep threat, averaging 17.4 yards per reception while leading Baltimore with eight touchdowns.

    Dennis Pitta developed into a very good tight end, registering 61 receptions and seven touchdowns.

    Advantage: 2012 Ravens

Offensive Lines

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    The 2000 offensive line was led by tackle Jonathan Ogden. The tackle was one of the best to ever play the tackle position and helped pave the way for the Ravens rushing attack.

    Mike Flynn, Jeff Mitchell, Edwin Mulitalo and Harry Swayne made up the rest of the starting lineup.

    Mulitalo and Flyn were very good run-blockers while Mitchell was a good player at the center position. As a group, the unit allowed 43 sacks on the year.

    The current offensive line for the Ravens features All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda as its best blocker.

    The blue-collar guard is one of the toughest players in the league and was a stabilizing force on Baltimore’s line this year.

    Making up the rest of the offensive line are Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Matt Birk and Michael Oher.

    Birk and McKinnie are veterans, who both played extremely well during the Ravens first three playoff games. Oher, who switched to right tackle for the playoffs after playing left tackle during the regular season, is a more natural fit for the right side.

    Osemele, a rookie, played very well in his first season and seems to have the potential to be a Pro Bowl player one day.  

    Advantage: 2012 Ravens 

Defensive Lines

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    This monstrous group was the backbone of the 2000 record-setting defense.

    Defensive ends Rob Burnett and Michael McCrary were both forces coming off the edge. Burnett tallied a team high 10.5 sacks while McCrary added 6.5.

    In the middle was the large duo of Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa. While neither put up mind boggling statistics, they were instrumental in taking up space and freeing up the Baltimore linebackers from the offensive linemen.

    Haloti Ngata headlines the current Baltimore defensive line. The massive defender is one of the best in the NFL at his position. However, Ngata was not his normally dominant self this season as he has played through nagging knee and shoulder injuries.

    Pernell McPhee, Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Arthur Jones also saw extensive time. None of the three were dominant, but Jones elevated his game as the season progressed.

    Advantage: 2000 Ravens

Linebackers

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    The only current player from Baltimore’s original Super Bowl team comes from this unit— Ray Lewis.

    It goes without saying that Lewis, a former Defensive Player of the Year recipient, is one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history. The anchor of Baltimore’s 2000 defense totaled 137 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

    Lewis was joined by Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper as Baltimore’s starting linebackers. Boulware, who was adept at getting to the quarterback, tallied seven sacks. Sharper was the third-leading tackler for the Ravens while forcing five fumbles.

    The current Ravens feature an older, less dominant Lewis. In his old age, Lewis is not able to run sideline-to-sideline like he used to.

    Dannell Ellerbe, the former undrafted player out of the University of Georgia, may be better than Lewis as he totaled 89 tackles and 4.5 sacks this season.

    Terrell Suggs, who played all season injured, was not his typical self. However, Paul Kruger stepped up in the absence of Suggs to become a force as a pass rusher, recording nine sacks.

    Advantage: 2000 Ravens

Defensive Backs

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    Rod Woodson was the top player in the secondary for the 2000 Baltimore team. The safety recorded four interceptions, forced two fumbles and registered 77 tackles.

    The other starter at safety, Kim Herring, added three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

    At the corner, Baltimore featured Chris McAlister and Duane Starks. The two corners were an absolute nightmare to throw against as McAlister recorded four interceptions and Starks produced a team-high six.

    The current Ravens are led by their two safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard.

    Reed, one of the best ball-hawking safeties in league history, may not be the same player from his earlier years, but he still added four interceptions and kept opposing quarterbacks from throwing anywhere near him.

    The hard-hitting Pollard was enforcer on the field, leading the Ravens in tackles (98) while delivering bone crushing hits.

    After their best corner Lardarius Webb was lost for the season after tearing his ACL, Corey Graham stepped in and played better than anyone could have expected. Graham netted two interceptions in the regular season along with two more against the Denver Broncos in the playoffs.

    Cary Williams, the other corner, led the team in interceptions (four) and pass deflections (17).

    Advantage: 2000 Ravens

Special Teams

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    In the 2000 season, Matt Stover handled the kicking duties for Baltimore. The accurate kicker converted 35 of his 35 kicks. Stover was perfect from 39 yards and in.

    Kyle Richardson was the punter and he averaged 40.2 yards per punt.

    Handling the return duties were Jermaine Lewis and Corey Harris. Harris averaged 23.3 yards per kick return. Lewis, an electrifying punt returner, averaged an amazing 16.1 yards per return and had two touchdowns.

    The current Baltimore special teams unit played an instrumental role for Baltimore this season.

    Rookie kicker Justin Tucker solidified the kicking position as he converted on 30 of 33 field goal attempts.

    Sam Koch, who is quietly one of the better punters in the league, averaged 47.1 yards per punt.

    In his first year in Baltimore, Jacoby Jones became one of the most dangerous returners in the NFL. Jones earned All-Pro honors and returned two kicks for touchdowns and one punt for a score.

    Advantage: 2012 Ravens