The 2000 regular season featured my favorite Baltimore Ravens team of all time. This team was a good mix of veterans and athletes in their prime.
The year started with the Ravens identifying needs at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. Coming off of their first .500 season in franchise history in 1999, Baltimore had two first-round picks, one at No. 5 overall and one at No. 10.
With the fifth pick, the Ravens selected massive running back Jamal Lewis, and with No. 10, speedy wide receiver Travis Taylor was chosen.
With second-year coach Brian Billick at the helm, the Ravens began the season 5-1, including a thrilling victory over previously dominant Jacksonville. The team was held without a touchdown for five straight games and fell to 5-4. Then they took off.
Trent Dilfer started at quarterback for the last eight games of the season, leading Baltimore to victories in their last seven games to clinch the best record in team history, at the time, (12-4) and the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs.
Let’s back up for just a bit though. The Baltimore Ravens defense was arguably the most dominant defense in NFL history, posting five shutouts and allowing a meager 165 points in 16 games. Led by a then-in-his-prime Ray Lewis, the linebacker corps was a vicious, athletic group that yielded only 65 yards rushing per game.
Also, Baltimore’s offensive and defensive lines seemed to take over games all season. Opposing offenses couldn't move the ball on the defense, and the Ravens offense held on to the ball for chunks of quarters. All of these factors helped make the Ravens a near-unbeatable football team in the playoffs.
In the playoffs the Ravens gave up 16 points before allowing only seven to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. It was an outstanding performance and a very exciting ride for fans. A young franchise winning 11 straight games to claim their first Super Bowl crown still has Baltimoreans hungry for a second one every season.
The meshing of youth of experience, along with a great Super Bowl run, makes this Baltimore Ravens my favorite team in their brief existence.