After winning the 2000 NFC Championship under the hot hand of Kerry Collins and the play-making abilities of Tiki Barber, Ike Hilliard, and Amani Toomer, The New York Football Giants were utterly dismantled by the aforementioned Ravens squad in Superbowl XXXV.
After such a humiliating loss, many Giant fans cared not to examine what made the 2000 Ravens such a great team. Years later, though, with the pain of loss a distant memory, it becomes more and more evident how much the 2000 Ravens can be likened to the Giants of 2009.
Defense, Defense, Defense
It’s no mystery that the success of the Baltimore Ravens as a team was predicated on a stifling defense. Led by the fiery Ray Lewis, The Ravens stopped opponents dead in their tracks both on the ground and in the air.
After hanging 41 points on The Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game, New York couldn’t muster but a single offensive point against Baltimore’s defense.
Though the Ravens were led by Lewis, their defense sported players like Tony Siragusa, Rod Woodson, Duane Starks, and Peter Boulware. There was also a lot of young talent on the roster to complement the veterans, such as Chris McAllister and Adalius Thomas.
The Giants of 2009 currently possess a ton of veteran leadership in the form of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Antonio Pierce, Corey Webster, and Fred Robbins. Younger players such as Kenny Phillips, Clint Sintim, Michael Johnson, and Terrell Thomas will form the young nucleus of playmakers which can be invaluable (as proven by the 2000 Ravens) to a defense.
Though Umenyiora and Tuck may not have the same level of passion as Ray Lewis vocally, the level of personal pride they possess is as high as anyone’s in the league, if their Superbowl XLII performance is any indication. If the veterans play with pride, and the young players step up, the 2009 Giants’ defense can be just as dangerous as the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens did not have a “No. 1" wide receiver on their roster, but then again neither do The 2009 Giants (as it stands).
What both teams possess, though, are playmakers.
In 2000, Brandon Stokley was one of the better slot receivers in the game, as is current New York receiver Steve Smith.
Furthermore, Jermaine Lewis was a fantastic kick returner, something that Domenik Hixon has proven that he can be given the opportunity.
Both The Ravens and The Giants sport a bull of a running back which can wear defenses down (Brandon Jacobs and Jamal Lewis), and use that to lead a stable of backs, all of whom make plays in the running game.
Baltimore did an excellent job in the stretch run of the 2000 season to get the ball in the hands of players like Stokley, Lewis, and Shannon Sharpe.
New York’s 2009 mission is to find was to maximize the skill sets of Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Kevin Boss, Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss, Hakeem Nicks, and Travis Beckum.
Though not one among the aforementioned group currently stands out as a playmaking talent, each may only need to make one or two plays a game to grab New York a lead and let the defense go into attack mode.
The leadership abilities of Ray Lewis are well documented, as he is one of the most vocal players in the game today, but the Giants may have a passionate leader of their own: Brandon Jacobs.
Jacobs is just as much a force at his position as Lewis is at his, and though they play different sides of the ball, their ability to motivate is an asset to every player on their respective rosters.
What About The Quarterback?
It may be a stretch to say that the Giants of 2009 are comparable to the 2000 Ravens on every level, but what the Giants lack in some areas, they make up in others, mainly the quarterback position.
Trent Dilfer was the definition of a caretaker, something that many have referred to Eli Manning as.
Manning is far better than a caretaker, as he has lead his team to the playoffs in four straight seasons in the limelight of New York amidst a ton of locker room turmoil.
If The Giants fail to match Baltimore in the play-maker category offensively, they trump Baltimore in the quarterback category.
If Eli can connect with any number of his young targets, New York will be a team to be reckoned with in 2009.