The 2000 Baltimore Ravens: A Team for the Ages

Jimmy FinneganContributor ISeptember 22, 2009

31 Dec 2000:  Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens eyes up Gus Ferotte #12 of the Denver Broncos in the AFC Wildcard playoff game at PSINet Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens won 21-3. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT

I am from Cleveland. And most football fans around here hate Art Model because he moved the Browns to Baltimore in 1996, but I still like the Ravens and I admire what they did in 2000.

The Ravens of 2000 are arguably the most underrated football team ever. First of all they had a Hall of Fame safety in Rod Woodson, and two other sure fire Hall of Fame players in Shannon Sharpe and Ray Lewis. People think that they can not be considered one of the best if they cant even win the division, but three of the four loses they had were when Tony Banks was the starting quarterback. I think they could of easily went 14-2 or 15-1 if they had Trent Dilfer as the starting quarterback for the whole season. Their defense gave up the fewest points ever in a sixteen game season, how can you argue with that? On NFL Network they had a show about the top ten defenses of all time and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens were ranked number seven, with all due respect to NFL Network they should of at least in the top three. And they aren't even ranked in the America's Game top twenty Super Bowl Champions. I don't know how they aren't ranked in the top five.

This team was known for its history making defense. They had 23 interceptions, 35 sacks, four shutouts, not a single 100-yard rusher allowed, and the fewest points ever surrendered in a 16 game season. Hands down the best run defense of all time. This group was lead by linebacker Ray Lewis, the 2000 NFL defensive player of the year. There was no escaping their lights out defense, if you look left there is Sam Adams, to the right is 340 lb Tony Siragusa. Then Rob Burnett and Micheal McCrary screaming up the middle. Chris McCalister and Duane Starks are both lock down corners. Kim Herring and Rod Woodson at safeties. And then the line backing core is among the best ever with Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, and Ray Lewis.

Their offense was better then most thought. For a team that started two quarterbacks they scored 333 points, Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer combined for over 3000 passing yards. They relied on their running game, rookie running back Jamal Lewis ran for over 1300 yards and Priest Holmes rushed for 588 yards thanks to a great offensive line lead by future Hall of Fame tackle Johnathan Ogden. 

This team overcame so many hard times. From Ray Lewis being charged with double murder, the five game span without an offensive touchdown, a mid-season quarterback change, and return specialist Jermaine Lewis son's death. Their only payoff for all these things would be wining a Super Bowl.

The Ravens were at their best in the playoffs. In the wild card round they beat the Denver Broncos 21-3. In the divisional playoffs they disappointed their division rival Tennessee Titans by beating them 24-10. And in the AFC championship game they pounded the Oakland Raiders 34-7.

The Ravens earned a trip to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, Florida. They faced the NFC champion New York Giants. In the first quarter Trent Dilfer proved all his critics wrong by throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley. Then later in the third quarter Jermaine Lewis sealed the deal by returning a kick 84 yards for a touchdown. The only points the Giants had was a kickoff return for a touchdown early in the second half. The Ravens defense forced five turnovers and allowed no offensive points. They ended up winning the game 34-7, and Ray Lewis was named Super Bowl MVP.

Even though they won the Super Bowl the Ravens still didn't capture the hearts of America, but they didn't mind all they wanted was to get a Super Bowl ring and they came full circle and did just that. Shortly after his Super Bowl win Trent Dilfer was released. Most people on that team thought they would of repeated if Trent Dilfer was their quarterback in 2001.