The 20 Greatest Victories in Baltimore Ravens History

Alan Zlotorzynski@@zlotsportsCorrespondent IIISeptember 6, 2011

The 20 Greatest Victories in Baltimore Ravens History

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    It is officially Steelers week in Baltimore and the countdown has begun to the opening of the NFL season. On Sunday September 11, the Baltimore Ravens will enter their 16th season as an NFL franchise and open at home for the eighth time in team history.

    The Ravens are 7-8 all time in opening the NFL season and 1-2 against their hated rivals from western Pennsylvania.

    From the team's unofficial beginning on November 6, 1995 when then Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell announced he was moving his storied franchise to Baltimore, through the heartbreaking defeat to the Steelers during last year’s playoffs, the Ravens have provided many memories.

    The Ravens have had a great deal of success in Baltimore. They have always been a model front office franchise that has employed just three head coaches since their inception in 1996.

    That’s a pretty good feat when you consider the Raiders, Bills, Redskins, Falcons, Browns, Cowboys, Lions, Dolphins and Rams have combined for 60 head coaches since 1997, or an average of almost seven new head coaches in 14 seasons.

    The Ravens have built a reputation over the years as one of the best defensive teams in the league and this reputation was built on the back of their future hall of fame middle linebacker Ray Lewis. Arguably one of the greatest defensive players to ever lace up a pair of cleats, Lewis has been with the Ravens every step of the way during the first 15 years.

    The Ravens have always been exciting to watch, and even on down years, with a stellar defense; have rarely been blown out in contests. The team has made seven trips to the post season and is 9-6 all time in the playoffs.

    On January 28, 2001, in just their fifth year of existence, the Ravens, again on the back of Ray Lewis and the defense, won Super Bowl XXXV against the New York Giants. The win was the first NFL Championship for the city of Baltimore since Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys in SB V, almost 30 years earlier.

    The Ravens have won 128 regular season games in franchise history. Here are 20 of those wins that I consider the greatest of the bunch. I would love to hear what games I left out and what you think of this list. Please feel free to comment, but as always please keep them within the boundaries of good taste.

No. 20 September 1, 1996: The Return of the NFL to Baltimore

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    The last time the city of Baltimore had played host to an NFL regular season game was December 13, 1983, when the Baltimore Colts defeated the Houston Oilers before a very, very sparse crowd of just 27 thousand fans at Memorial Stadium.

    After 13 seasons without the NFL, the Oakland Raiders, and Baltimore's new franchise, the Ravens, brought back to life for the rabid football fans of Charm City at the old horseshoe shaped stadium located on 33rd street in East Baltimore. Memorial Stadium used to be known as the largest outdoor insane asylum during the days of Unitas and was again rocking with excitement and anticipation for the Ravens first ever game.

    The excitement in the stands was matched by the play on the field as two former Heisman trophy winners combined to score the first three touchdowns of the game.

    The Ravens have had 16 signal callers line up behind center to start a game in their history. The first of those to lead the Ravens offense was, former Heisman Trophy winner, Vinny Testaverde.

    Testaverde would stamp his name into Baltimore football history, as he scored the Ravens first ever touchdown. Testaverde scampered nine yards into the end zone to give Baltimore the lead in the first quarter.

    The Raiders came back to take the lead with 14 unanswered second quarter points. Oakland QB Billy Joe Hobert found former Notre Dame star Tim Brown for two short TD passes to give the Raiders a 14-7 halftime lead. The Ravens defense held the rest of the way, which in 1996 was rare. Matt Stover kicked two third quarter field goals and Earnest Byner put the game away with a goal line plunge in the final quarter.

    In a rare win during the 96’ season, the new Baltimore Ravens held on to beat Oakland 19-14. Under former Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts head coach Ted Marchibroda, the Ravens would win just four games in their inaugural season. Despite the poor record, the Ravens were a very exciting team to watch.

    Baltimore held a second-half lead in 10 of its 11 final games, but won just two of them. All four wins during the season came at Memorial Stadium in front of sellout crowds. In what would now seem like a freaky Friday type of event, the 96’ Ravens finished the year as the third ranked offense in the NFL.

    Ravens fans would discover a few short years later, that defense wins championships, and the 96’ version was not a championship caliber unit. Led by rookie Ray Lewis (95 tackles) they ranked 28 out of 30 teams in points allowed, and was dead last in total yards allowed per game.

    The offense carried the team as QB Vinny Testaverde was voted to the Pro Bowl after throwing for 4,177 yards and 33 TDs. WRs Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander both eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark and combined for 23 TD receptions.

No.19 November 29, 1998: The Colts Return to Baltimore

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    To say that the November 29, 1998 contest between the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens meant something to the football fans of Baltimore would grossly under state the meaning of the game.

    With a victory, Baltimore's new franchise could help those old Baltimore Colts fans finally bury the memories of the Mayflower moving fans driving off to Indianapolis in the middle of the night in March of 1984. The Ravens had met the former Baltimore franchise just once before the 1998 meeting. In week seven of their inaugural season, behind then Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh, Indy handed the Ravens a 26-21 loss during Baltimore's first national TV appearance as the Ravens.

    In a game that seemed to come straight from a Hollywood script, both teams entered the game in the new stadium at Camden Yards as franchises that were struggling with their win/loss records were loaded with talent on different sides of the ball.

    Despite their 2-9 record, the Colts featured a very potent offense. Rookie phenom, quarterback Peyton Manning, all-purpose running back, Marshall Faulk, and Pro-Bowl wide receiver, Marvin Harrison led Indianapolis into Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards that day.

    The Ravens had a talented team, and despite finishing 6-10 during the 98 season, the Ravens sent six players, four from the defense, to represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl at the conclusion of the year.

    The game started badly for Ravens fans, Marshall Faulk scored on two long touchdowns to help stake the Colts to a 17-3 first quarter lead. The task of coming back would now belong to the quarterback that beat the Ravens as the Colts QB just two years prior. Even though the Ravens trailed by 14-points, his nickname provided the fans of Baltimore with hope.

    Captain Comeback, Jim Harbaugh began the process of proving his nickname true, as he connected with reserve WR James Roe, who was playing for an injured Jermaine Lewis, for a Ravens touchdown. The score cut the Indy to lead to 24-17 just before the half.

    The teams traded third quarter touchdowns but it was Peyton Manning's third TD pass of the game, which gave the Colts a 10-point lead headed into the fourth quarter. Harbaugh, who connected on 16 of 25 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon, began the Ravens comeback quickly in the final period as he found Floyd Turner on a corner route for a 22-yard score just five seconds into the fourth quarter. 

    With the fans still rocking and the Colts ahead by just three, 31-28, the Ravens needed only 1:48 to take the lead, as Priest Holmes scored on a 36-yard run.

    After allowing 339 yards of total offense in the first half and 31 points through three quarters, the Ravens shut the Colts down when it mattered in the final quarter to win the game. Safety Ralph Staten picked off a Manning pass intended for Marshall Faulk to seal the deal at the Ravens' 20 with 1: 01 remaining.

    Following the win, Baltimore QB Jim Harbaugh collected the game ball and gave it to (pictured above) another Baltimore QB, the legendary Baltimore Colts QB, Johnny Unitas. Unitas had for years expressed his displeasure with the team's move, and even once requested his name be removed from the Indianapolis Colts media guide. With the win, many Ravens fans expressed feelings of closure with the Colts move to Indy.

    The Ravens would beat the Colts again, two years later in Baltimore. However, since the 2001, 39-27 win, the Ravens have lost eight in a row to the Colts, including two in the playoffs.

No.18 September 3, 2000. Ravens Spoil Steelers Final Home Opener at Three Rivers

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    The Baltimore Ravens owed the Pittsburgh Steelers a little payback. Pittsburgh beat Baltimore and spoiled the Ravens first ever-regular season game in their new Camden Yards Stadium to kickoff the 98’ season. 

    The Ravens would get that pay back on the first Sunday of the 2000 NFL season and in the process give their fans a glimpse of things to come for the year.

    Behind three Matt Stover field goals, and a 53-yard TD catch by Qadry Ismail from Ravens QB, Tony Banks, the Ravens spoiled the final home opener at Three Rivers Stadium. Not only did the Ravens beat the Steelers at home, but they shut them out with a 16-0 victory.

    The shutout was the first of four during the Ravens Super Bowl run of 2000. That year the Ravens boasted arguably one of the best single season defenses in the history of the NFL. The victory by Baltimore was also their second in a row at Three Rivers, as the Ravens handed the Steelers their fifth consecutive defeat during a 31-24 win the previous December.

    In fact, the Ravens more than returned the favor, as Baltimore also became the first team to beat the Steelers at their new stadium, Heinz Field, the following season. Baltimore won their third in a row in the steel city with a 13-10 victory

No. 17 October 3, 2010: Flacco Finally Wins a Big One in Pittsburgh

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    Ravens QB Joe Flacco may have failed to build on the momentum of beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh last October, but this victory was, at the time, a huge win for the Ravens, and the Ravens third year signal caller.

    If you think the fans thought this was just another regular season game, then check out this video of the fans' reaction to the game winning catch by TJ Houshmandzadeh from a local watering hole in Baltimore.

    The Ravens trailed 7-0 after the first quarter but led 10-7 at the half, and following a scoreless third quarter of sloppy and ineffective play by both offensive teams, each found a rhythm in the fourth quarter.

    The Steelers regained the lead when back-up QB Charlie Batch, who was playing for the suspended Ben Roethlisberger, led the Steelers down the field on a 13 play, 93-yard drive that culminated with a 7-yard Rashard Mendenhall rushing touchdown.

    The Ravens would get the ball back and Flacco would drive them 10 plays and 65 yards to the Steelers two-yard line. However, the Ravens failed to score and turned the ball over to the Steelers on downs. With only 2:40 to play, the situation looked bleak for Baltimore.

    The Ravens defense held with the help of poor Pittsburgh clock management and a holding penalty. After another holding penalty by the Steelers punting team, the Ravens received the ball back at midfield with 55 seconds remaining, as Joe Flacco went to work in the hurry-up offense.

    From the shot-gun, Flacco found Boldin for nine yards and then again for three more. He then went to Houshmandzadeh on the right side of the field for 10 yards and a first down. Houshmanzadeh was able to get out of bounds, stopping the clock with 33 seconds to play.

    On the next play, Ravens tight end Todd Heap picked up a blitzing Troy Polamalu, giving Flacco time to step up and loft a perfect pass to Houshmandzadeh. Flacco's ball found Houshmanzadeh in stride in the back of the Steeler's end zone for the 17-14 game winning touchdown.

No.16. December 10, 2000: Happy Berth Day

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    Prior to the start of the contest against the San Diego Chargers, the Ravens honored the man that brought football back to Baltimore with a moving pre-game ceremony. Art Modell, who was in his 40th year of owning and NFL franchise, said he had just one goal in mind before he retired, win a Super Bowl.

    As owner of the Cleveland Browns, Modell was close on several occasions. He watched as his Browns
    lost three AFC Championshhip games by a total of 24 points. All of those games to John Elway and the Denver Broncos.

    On this day, the Ravens would honor Modell with more than a pre-game ceremony. They earned the franchise's first ever playoff berth with a convincing 24-3 win.

    The Ravens D was dominant as usual in the victory, as they beat up on Bolts QB Ryan Leaf, and held the Chargers offense to just 128 total yards while forcing five turnovers.

    Instructed by their head coach, Brian Billick, not to use the word playoffs until they actually clinched a berth in the post season, many Ravens players could be seen on the sidelines screaming the word with just minutes left in the game.

No. 15 September 14, 2003: Jamal Lewis Breaks Single Game Rushing Record

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    Ravens running back Jamal Lewis literally carried the offense on his back for the entire 2003 season. The Ravens relied very heavily on Lewis, as offensive genius and head coach Brian Billick's team boasted the NFL's worst passing attack with Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright under center.

    Lewis, who missed the entire 2001 season with a torn ACL, the second of his career (Lewis tore an ACL while playing at Tennessee) made a living running against the Browns defense in his career.

    In 12 career games, Lewis averaged 127 yards per game and scored eight touchdowns against Cleveland. On this September day in Baltimore, Lewis would shatter the single game rushing record of 278-yards set by Corey Dillon of Cincinnati during a game against Denver in October of 2000. 

    Lewis wasted little time rushing for the record. On the second play of the game, Lewis took a hand-off and ran for an 82-yard touchdown. He followed that up with a 63-yard rushing TD run early in the fourth quarter, and broke the record on a 3-yard run with 6:55 remaining in the game.

    The Ravens behind Lewis defeated Cleveland 33-14 as the defense held the Browns to just 175 yards while forcing three turnovers in the process. One of those turnovers was Ed Reed's first career interception returned for a touchdown. 

    The single game rushing record of 275-yards was held by Walter Payton for 23-years before Dillon broke the mark in 2000. Starting with Dillon, who held the mark for a little under three years, the record fell three times in a span of seven NFL seasons.

    Lewis held the record for a little over four years until its current holder, the Vikings Adrian Peterson, broke it as a rookie in 2007. Peterson rushed for one more yard than Lewis in a game against the San Diego Chargers during a November contest that season.

    Lewis went on to win many post-season honors following the 2003 season, rushing for 2066 yards. He came within 40 yards of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season all time mark as he eclipsed the 2000-yard plateau during the final regular season home game in a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

No. 14 September 10, 2000: Ravens Get First Ever Victory over Jaguars

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    The Ravens were members of the AFC Central following the move from Cleveland in 1996. The Jacksonville Jaguars, not the Pittsburgh Steelers, were Baltimore's biggest nemesis and division rivals in the Ravens first few years of play.

    Baltimore seemed to invent ways to lose Jacksonville, many coming in heart breaking fashion. The Ravens lost their first four games to Jacksonville by a combined nine points,and were 0-8 against the Jags headed into their week two home opener at PSInet Stadium in Baltimore.

    Baltimore was riding high after shutting out the Steelers in Pittsburgh the week before to open the season, but head coach Brian Billick believed their true measuring stick for the 2000 season would be their home opener against the Jaguars.

    However, the confidence they carried into the game did not last long. The Ravens were tight and made several key mistakes, and Jacksonville QB Mark Brunell capitalized on every one of them. Brunell,  with TD passes of 45 and 43 yards to Ravens killer Jimmy Smith, led the Jags to a 17-0 first quarter lead.

    Smith was a fantasy football god whenever he lined up against the Baltimore secondary. He averaged over 100 yards per game against the Ravens in 12 career games, but this game would be his best. Smith hauled in 15 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns against the history making 2000 Ravens defense. Smith's performance was the fourth best receiving day in the history of pro football.

    Not exactly known as a come from behind type of quarterback, Ravens signal caller Tony Banks needed to find a way to get Baltimore on the board and salvage a poor half of football. Banks did that with a TD pass to receiver Travis Taylor early in the second quarter and the Ravens trailed 23-7 at the half.

    Banks continued his rare comeback performance at the start of the second half, when he again found Taylor for a score. Following another TD pass to fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo, Banks had the Ravens to within four points of the Jags.

    Playing for the injured Fred Taylor and Stacey Mack, third string running back Chris Howard lost his second fumble of the game on his own 12-yard line after the ensuing kickoff. Two plays later, Banks gave his team the lead, as he tossed his fourth TD pass of the day to WR Jermaine Lewis.

    The score gave the Ravens a 29-26 lead but the game was far from over. After the teams traded field goals, the Jags offense seemed to stall with under two minutes remaining. Facing third and six, from the Baltimore 40-yard line, Brunell dropped back to pass. The Ravens sent a heavy blitz from both corners, and under pressure, Brunell simply heaved the football in the direction of Jimmy Smith down the right sideline.

    Covering on the play for the Ravens was safety Kim Herring, and CB Duane Starks. The Jags other Ravens killer, wide out, Keenan McCardell tipped the ball into the air and into the hands of, guess who.

    After grabbing the deflection, Jimmy Smith turned and slipped through the hands of Starks and raced the 10 or so yards for the go-ahead score. I was fortunate to attend this game, and even from my seats, way up in section 548, you could hear a pin hit the turf after Smith's catch and run for what everyone thought was the game winning score. Ravens fans thought it was a foregone conclusion that the Jaguars had just snatched victory from the jaws of the defeat yet again.

    However, The Ravens and their QB would do the victory snatching on this day. Using a little over a minute of play clock, Banks began the game winning drive by throwing short passes over the middle against a two-deep zone defense.

    After competitions of 19 and 15 yards to Billy Davis, Banks found Ayanbadejo for a 12-yard competition to the Jags 29 yard line. He used a little over a minute of play clock, as he guided the Ravens offense 46 yards on six plays. Banks then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 48 seconds remaining.

    On the next play, Banks hit newly signed free agent and future Hall Of Fame tight end, Shannon Sharpe, at the Ravens two-yard line. After taking a hit following the catch from safety Donovin Darius, Sharpe bounced into the end zone for the game winning score.

    The win gave the Ravens their first 2-0 start in their brief five-year history, and set the tone for a year that would culminate with a Super Bowl Championship.

No.13 Novemeber 26-December 24, 2006: Two for the Price of One

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    The Baltimore Ravens have swept the season series just once in 15 seasons against their hated rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. During the bittersweet season of 2006, the Ravens demolished the Steelers by a combined score of 58-7 in their two regular season meetings.

    The first of these two beatings occurred on November 26, in what Ravens fans fondly remember as, sack-fest 06.

    Aside from the greatest sack in Ravens history, which was provided by current Jets linebacker Bart Scott (see above video), Baltimore knocked Big Ben around like a rag doll on this Sunday. Roethlisberger was knocked to the turf nine times, as the Steelers offense was held to just 172 total yards.

    The Ravens offense scored 27 points on two field goals from Matt Stover and touchdowns from Todd Heap and Jamal Lewis. Adalius Thomas added a defensive TD after he scampered 57-yards following a fumble recovery in the third quarter.

    With the 27-0 shutout win, the Ravens defeated and dominated their hated rivals like they had never done before. However, like most games in this series, the home team usually laughs last, as the scene would switch to Heinz Field less than a month later on Christmas Eve.

    The Ravens defense again proved to be too much for Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers offense. The Ravens sacked Big Ben five more times, for a two game total of 14. The offense continued its climb upward during the 06 season, scoring 31 points.

    The Ravens provided the fans of Baltimore with an unexpected Christmas present by sweeping the Steelers for the first time franchise history with the 31-7 victory. In two games, the Steelers averaged just 211 yards of offense, and the vaunted Steel Curtain defense played more like a silk tablecloth.

    Pittsburgh never got to Ravens QB Steve McNair in either game, allowing McNair to pass for 396 yard and four touchdowns during the two Baltimore victories.

No. 12 December 20, 2008 Ravens Run over Cowboys in Texas Stadium Finale

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    The Ravens performance in the final game at Texas Stadium may have been fueled by the rumor that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones handpicked them to close out the 37-year old venue. If in fact this was true, Jones obviously thought, as did many, that after a 5-11 record in 2007 and firing head coach Brian Billick, how good could the Ravens be in 2008?

    Well, with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback, the Ravens were damn good in '08. Baltimore came into Texas Stadium not intimidated by the pomp and circumstance of the evening, but ready to play Ravens football.

    Both teams entered the game with identical 9-5 records and very much alive in their respective conferences playoff race as the game began just as Owner Jerry Jones had envisioned. Joe Flacco turned the ball over on a fumble for only the second time during the season when NFL sacks leader DeMarcus Ware sacked and stripped the rookie quarterback of the ball.

    It was the first of five sacks in the first half by the Cowboys, tying the most allowed by the Ravens during an entire game that season.

    Cowboys rookie running back Tashard Choice converted the turnover into a 7-0 Dallas lead when he scored on a third-down draw. From there, the Ravens defense buckled down and following three Matt Stover field goals, led 9-7 at halftime.

    The play of the game, and perhaps the year, occurred late in the third quarter. Matt Stover again lined up for a 40-yard field-goal attempt, but instead of placing the ball down for Stover to kick through the uprights, Ravens punter, and Stover’s holder, Sam Koch had other ideas. Koch took the snap and ran 9-yards to convert a fourth-and-six to give the Ravens a first down on the Cowboys 13-yard line.

    Two plays later, Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason hauled in a Flacco pass to extend the Baltimore lead to 16-7. After the teams traded early fourth quarter field goals, Dallas receiver Terrell Owens cut the Ravens lead to 19-17.

    The Ravens decided it was time to perform a little Texas two-step to finish off the Cowboys. With just 3:40 remaining in the game and the Ravens trying to kill the clock, Willis McGahee took a hand-off from Flacco and promptly ran 77-yards for the longest touchdown run of his career. McGahee, who had not had a run longer than 17-yards prior to the touchdown, gave the Ravens a 26-17 lead. But if the operator of the Texas Stadium scoreboard thought he had put the final points on the boards’ 38-year history, he was very badly mistaken.

    The Cowboys managed to storm back down the field on QB Tony Romo's arm. With 1:36 left in the game, Romo found his favorite target, Jason Witten, for a 21-yard TD pass. The score made the situation uncomfortable for the Baltimore offense, as they would need to get a first down to close out the Cowboys and Texas Stadium.

    They would get a little more than the required 10 yards needed in order to take a knee and run out the clock. In fact, fullback LeRon McClain took a Flacco hand-off and promptly skirted 72 extra yards for an 82-yard touchdown run. McClain made history on the final TD at Texas Stadium.

    The Ravens leading rusher during the season, whose longest run of the 08 season was 28 yards, scored the longest rushing TD by a visiting back in the stadium's 37-year existence. The win moved the Ravens to 10-5 and after defeating the Jacksonville jaguars the following week, clinched a playoff berth.

    The Ravens became only the third visiting team since 1996 to beat an NFL team closing out its old stadium.

No.11 November 23, 2003: 17 Points in 6 Minutes

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    The Ravens were becoming a locker room divided during the 2003 season and the greatest comeback win in franchise history could not have come at a better time for the Ravens and their fans.

    Baltimore dropped to a disappointing 5-5 after losing their previous two games and the frustration was starting to become very apparent. The Ravens third ranked defense and special team was again carrying the Ravens offense and their last ranked passing attack.

    Following an injury to the Ravens unimpressive QB, Kyle Boller during a week nine contest against the Rams, Baltimore turned to Dallas Cowboys reject backup QB, Anthony Wright.

    The Ravens seventh all time leading passer in team history fared no better after taking over for Boller. The week before, during an overtime loss to the Dolphins, Wright threw for a measly 112 yards and two interceptions in leading the offense to just six points.

    Therefore, it was understandable when a third of the 64 thousand in attendance at PSInet Stadium walked out after halftime of the Seattle game with the Ravens trailing 17-3. A Ravens comeback win seemed out of the question. The Ravens offense could not reach the end zone in the first half, and the defense could not keep the Seahawks from the end zone in the second.

    Even though Wright had thrown three touchdown passes to Marcus Robinson in the third quarter, leading the Ravens to 21 points, the defense allowed the Seahawks Matt Hasselbeck to toss two of his own in the quarter, one an 80-yard strike to Darrell Jackson. After an early fourth quarter TD pass from Hasselbeck to Bobby Engram, Seattle was comfortably ahead 41-24.

    The Ravens special teams started the comeback started when Ed Reed blocked a punt off the foot of Tom Rouen. Reed then scooped up the ball and scored a 16-yard touchdown. The score by Reed cut the Seattle lead to 10 points but time was not on the Ravens side. Just 6:41 remained in the game, and the Ravens defense would have to do something they failed to do most of the game, stop the Seattle offense cold. Points did not matter for the Seahawks, a couple of first downs and the game could be over.

    On the Seattle possession following the blocked punt, the Ravens D managed to force a turnover as the Seahawks were again driving. Linebacker Ray Lewis stripped Seattle fullback Mack Strong, and Wright led the Ravens 71 yards on a drive and cut the Seattle lead to three after his fourth TD pass to Marcus Robinson.

    The biggest defensive stand of the season occurred on the next Seahawks possession. Needing less than a yard on fourth-and-one to run out the clock and win the game, the Ravens stuffed Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck (play pictured above) on a sneak to take over on downs.

    With the help of a 45-yard pass interference penalty, Wright got the Ravens into field goal territory and with no time left on the clock, Matt Stover hit a 40-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.

    The Ravens D came up with their third straight stop of the hot Seattle offense when they forced the Seahawks to punt on the first possession of overtime. Wright then took over again, as he scrambled for eight yards and then connected on two of three passes for 29 yards to set up the 40-yard game-winning field goal by Stover.

    The win boosted the team's confidence in each other and behind the confidence of Anthony Wright and Jamal Lewis' 2000 yard rushing season, the Ravens won four of their next five games to win their only AFC North crown and capture their third playoff berth in four seasons.

No.10 November 12, 2000: Ravens End Titans Win Streak at Adelphia

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    Every NFL team has a nemesis in the league. A team that prevents them from getting over the final hurdle, and moving onto bigger and better things. With them coming to town this week, I will not say the name of the team that does it to the Ravens almost every year.

    However, in Nashville, and for the fans of the Tennessee Titans that team is the very own Baltimore Ravens. Back when the Ravens and Titans were rivals in the AFC Central, the Ravens seemed to end the Titans hopes and dreams on a regular basis. Even still to this day, the Ravens continue to torture fans in the music city but not like, they did during the 2000 season.

    The Titans and Ravens met in a divisional showdown during week 11 of the 2000 season. Many gave the upstart Ravens little chance of winning in Nashville. Why would Baltimore win at Adelphia Coliseum? No team had done so since the Stadium opened for play the year before. Tennessee set an NFL record with 12 straight wins to open a new stadium and was 8-1 holding a three game lead over the 6-4 Ravens heading into the contest.

    The Ravens with Trent Dilfer at quarterback jumped out to a 14-0 lead but behind Steve McNair, the Titans would come back to tie the game at 17 early in the fourth quarter.

    The Ravens looked to be driving down the field for what would become the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. Instead, Dilfer made a bad read on the play, and threw the ball right to Titans safety Perry Phenix, who ran the ball 87-yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

    Dilfer said following the game, "I thought I got 35 [Phenix] to move just enough to get the slant in behind him. You do stupid things once in a while. That was a terrible time to do it."

    The play, which seemed devastating to Baltimore's chances to win the game, was not as bad as it could have been. Known as Automatic Al throughout his 17-year NFL career, Titans kicker Al Del Greco missed the extra point, and in the process rejuvenated a down Ravens sideline. The miss opened the door for the Ravens to win in regulation and unfazed by the pick six he had just thrown, Dilfer came back onto the field and promptly led the Ravens on a nine-play, 70-yard drive.

    The final play was a Dilfer pass to Patrick Johnson just over the goal line for the game-tying touchdown. After the replay upheld the call on the field, and Matt Stover added the game winning extra point, the Ravens became legitimate AFC contenders.

    The Titans still got one last chance to win the game, but Automatic Al missed from 43-yards setting off a wild Ravens sideline celebration.

    The confidence the Ravens gained in beating the Titans helped them begin their march to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa. These two teams would meet again in Nashville a few weeks later, and this time, the right to play for the AFC Championship was on the line.

No.9 January 13, 2002 & No.8 January 4, 2009: Fish Food for the Ravens

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    While many of the Ravens regular season victories have been huge throughout their 16 years, every win in the playoffs is bigger than any regular season win.

    Many may argue that point using the theory of what came first, the chicken or the egg. I say if a team loses a big regular season game, they usually have the chance to bounce back. Lose in the playoffs, and your team is done for the year.

    The Ravens have met the Miami Dolphins twice in the post season, and while both games were blowouts so to speak, they still came in the playoffs. The first of those two playoff meetings came in January 2002 as Baltimore traveled to Pro Player stadium on Wild Card Weekend to begin defense of their Super Bowl title.

    The Dolphins led 3-0 after the first quarter, but that was it for Miami as the Ravens scored 20 unanswered points to knock the Dolphins out of the post season. Although the Ravens defense returned many from their 2000 team that won the Super Bowl, they were not quite as good. However, they did hold the Dolphins offense to just 151 total yards for the contest.

    Jamie Sharper, Peter Boulware, and Anthony Mitchell all sacked Miami QB Jay Fiedler. Ravens cornerback Duane Starks intercepted Fiedler, as Miami turned the ball over three times to the Ravens.

    Despite the average play of Ravens QB Elvis Grbac, Baltimore still managed 347 yards of offense. 214 of those yards were on the ground, as Terry Allen and Jason Brookins combined for 198 of them. Grbac did connect on a 4-yard TD to Travis Taylor and Allen scored on the ground from the same distance.

    The Ravens would go on to lose the following week in Pittsburgh, ending the defense of their Super Bowl title.

    The Ravens would need to return to Miami in order to win another playoff game. The Ravens had not won a postseason contest since beating Miami in the above game. This time the Ravens came to town with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback. While John Harbaugh had his team prepared to play, Joe Flacco managed the offense well during his first ever playoff victory. He let the Ravens do what they did best back then, win with defense.

    Flacco was only 9-for-23 for 135 yards and one rushing TD, but he committed no turnovers and let the Ravens' defenders control the game, and control the game they did.

    With the score tied at three in the second quarter, Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington threw a terrible pass downfield into double coverage. Pennington's intended receiver, Ted Ginn Jr. fell down allowing all world safety Ed Reed to make an over the shoulder catch interception. After the interception, Reed, as he usually does, began the long drawn out process of returning it for a touchdown.

    He headed toward the left sideline, eluded a tackler, reversed his field, and sprinted for the right corner of the end zone, scoring and completing the pick six only after Terrell Suggs leveled Pennington at the 5-yard line. That made the score 10-3 and the Ravens never trailed again in the game.

    Things got much worse for Pennington and the Dolphins offense from that point. The Ravens' intercepted Pennington four times, including another by Reed, and forced five turnovers total during their 27-9 triumph.

    The five turnovers and four interceptions tied a playoff team record, both coming in the 2000 AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XXXV.

No. 7 January 9, 2011: Ravens Dominate Chiefs

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    Every year since 2005, one NFL team has gone from last to first to win their division. The Kansas City Chiefs, who were 10-6 and winners of the AFC West, were last year’s team. Hosting the 12-4 Wild Card Ravens, who were making their third consecutive postseason appearance, Kansas City became the late week sexy pick to upset Baltimore at home.

    Despite the Ravens taking an early 3-0 lead, the game started well for Kansas City. Following a strip sack fumble of Joe Flacco by Chiefs defensive end Tambi Hali, the NFL's leading rushing attack took over for a few plays.

    Texas Track Star Jamal Charles took a second down hand off from Matt Cassell and ran 41-yards for the touchdown. The brief 7-3 lead would be the last lead of the season for KC. A dominating performance on both sides of the ball for the Ravens would take over the game and stop the Chiefs cold.

    Ravens QB Joe Flacco delivered his best playoff performance to date. In six previous playoff games, Flacco averaged a little less than 122 yards passing per game. Against the Chiefs, Flacco was 25-of-34 for 265-yards and two touchdowns. In the process, Flacco became the first quarterback in the history of the NFL to win a playoff game in each of his first three seasons.

    While Flacco's arm accounted for most of the Ravens offense, the Ravens defense was again playoff stingy on the road. For the fourth time in postseason history, the Ravens tied a franchise record in forcing turnovers during a playoff game.

    Kansas City, who took a lot of pride in not turning the ball over during the regular season, did so five times against the Ravens. Baltimore picked off Matt Cassell three times while holding him to just 70 yards passing.

    The Ravens scored 27 unanswered points for the 30-7 victory. Baltimore won their fourth playoff game in three seasons, all coming on the road.

No.6 January 10, 2010: Ray Rice Ends the Drama Early

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    Despite the fact that the Ravens were playing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, this one was over early. Ravens running back Ray Rice scored on an 83-yard touchdown run on the game’s first play and from there, the Ravens defense, as they always do on the road in the playoffs, took over and dominated New England.

    The Ravens forced Pats QB Tom Brady into three turnovers on the first four possessions. Following the Rice 83-yard run, linebacker Terrell Suggs stripped and recovered the ball while rushing the former Super Bowl MVP. The Ravens took over on the Pats 17-yard line and a few plays later LeRon McClain scored to give the Ravens a quick two-touchdown lead. Chris Carr then intercepted Brady, which led to Rice's second TD of the quarter, another 1-yard TD run.

    Finally, Ed Reed joined the pick party, and after intercepting Brady, Reed of course then lateraled the ball to Dawan Landry, who made it deep into New England territory. The result was a Billy Cundiff 27-yard field goal. By the end of the first quarter, the Ravens led the Patriots 24-0, as a heavy dose of hometown boos poured down on Brady and company

    How dominating was the Ravens defense? They held Tom Brady to just 154 yards passing and the rest of the Pats offense to 40 yards. This despite the fact that Brady was forced to throw early and often trailing as his team did in the game.

    The defense may not have scored any points but they were direct contributors in 26 of them, as their own QB, Joe Flacco, threw for just 34 yards. New England added little drama to the game, but managed 14 points, just enough to keep Ravens fans focused for four quarters.

    The loss was the first for Head Coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at home in nine payoff games.

    The victory party was short lived, as the other quarterback of the decade, Peyton Manning, and the Indianapolis Colts defeated Baltimore the following week, ending the Ravens season.

No. 5 December 31 2000: Playoff Football Returns to Baltimore

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    New Year's Eve 2000 marked the return of playoff football to Baltimore, as the 12-4 Ravens hosted the Denver Broncos. 

    The last playoff game in Charm City occurred on Christmas Eve in 1977. The Oakland Raiders defeated the Baltimore Colts 37-31 in what was the third longest game in NFL history at the time. In a double overtime playoff classic, Raiders QB Ken Stabler found Dave Casper 43-seconds into the second overtime for the win. The game would go onto become known as the Ghost to the Post.

    For the Baltimore football fans that were around in 1977, they must have known that this outcome would be different for the home team following the Ravens second TD of the game. After rookie running back Jamal Lewis scored on a one yard dive (pictured above) to give the Ravens a 7-3 lead, Ravens QB Trent Dilfer looked to throw a pass to Lewis in the flat later in the quarter.

    The cold temperatures may have played a part in the play, as the game time temperature was just 22 degrees with a wind chill of five degrees. Instead of landing in the arms of the rookie running back, the pass deflected off his hands and into the arms of Denver cornerback Terrell Buckley, and then amazingly, the ball deflected out of Buckley’s hands and into the arms of Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe, who was admittedly five yards out of position.

    "I was supposed to go 10 yards and out," Sharpe said. "I looked at the defense and went 5 and into the flat."

    Sharpe grabbed the ball, and followed fullback Sam Gash and wide receiver Patrick Johnson down the sideline for the touchdown. Sharpe’s crazy TD was plenty of offense for the best defense in the NFL.

    Lewis, who missed the ball to begin with, was the Ravens offensive star of the game, as the rookie rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns including a decisive romp through the middle of the Broncos defense for a 27-yard touchdown to cap off the Ravens scoring. The 2000 season and the Championship that followed was not about the Ravens offense, it was all about the defense.

    The Broncos came to Baltimore with the No. 2-ranked offense in the league, but the Ravens allowed it to cross midfield only once during the game. That was in the second quarter, when a 68-yard drive reached the Baltimore 12-yard line. Baltimore allowed just nine first downs and 177 total yards to the high powered attack.

    The first NFL playoff game in Baltimore since 1977 produced the first home playoff win by a Baltimore team since Jan. 3, 1971, when the Colts beat those same Raiders, 27-17, in the 1970 AFC championship game.

No. 4 January 10, 2009: Ravens Stun the Nashville Faithful Yet Again

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    For the second time in their franchise history, the Tennessee Titans had the inside track to the Super Bowl with home field advantage as the No.1 seed, and the for the second time, the Baltimore Ravens derailed those chances by beating the Titans in Tennessee.

    If the Titans organization, and their fans, were still sick over their 2000 playoff loss to Baltimore, then they must have been looking for the tallest building in Nashville to leap from following this loss.

    Despite out gaining the Ravens, 391-to-211 in the game, Baltimore not Tennessee would advance to play for the AFC Championship. The two teams traded first quarter touchdowns, Chris Johnson scored for the Titans, and Derrick Mason on a 48-yard pass from his rookie QB, Joe Flacco, tied the score.

    The Ravens hung around but the Titans allowed them to by committing bad penalties and failing to convert on numerous chances in Ravens territory. The blunders included a fumbled snap from the shotgun by Titans QB Kerry Collins, a missed field goal, and three turnovers, which gave the Ravens the ball back.

    The biggest play of the game may have been one that should have never happened. After the Titans tied the score at 10, Joe Flacco converted a big third down pass play to tight end Todd Heap for a first down in Tennessee territory. It was this play that set help set up Matt Stover’s game winning 43-yard field goal with 53 seconds left in the game.

    However, the play clock had expired by a couple of seconds, but referee Terry McAulay failed to blow the play dead. He tried to offer an explanation following the game, but nobody in Nashville wanted to hear it.

    "When [the clock] hits zero, which is high here, [the back judge] goes to the ball," McAulay said after the game. "So there is going to be a natural delay from zero to getting to the ball."

    On the next third down, Flacco connected with Mark Clayton for an 8-yard pass, which was a yard short of the first down but set up Stover for the game winning kick.

    The 13-10 win was unexpected by many Ravens fans but greatly welcomed. In a scene reminiscent of the 2000 playoff victory in Tennessee, a few thousand Ravens fans flocked to BWI Airport to welcome the team home from Nashville later that evening.

No. 3 January 14, 2001: The Ravens Are Super Bowl Bound

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    The Ravens completed their improbable run as a wild card team through the 2000 AFC playoffs by finishing off the Oakland Raiders to win the AFC Championship. The defense again carried the day for the Ravens allowing just three points for the second time during the 00' postseason.

    The Raiders were held to just 191 total yards, as the Ravens defense held Oakland's league-leading running game to 24 rushing yards on 17 carries. It forced five turnovers from a Raiders offense that had the second-fewest giveaways in the NFL this season.

    Baltimore's physical bullish defense also knocked Raiders starting QB Rich Gannon from the game. Gannon was hurt on two separate hits from Baltimore defenders. The first from defensive end Michael McCrary, and the knockout punch was provided by the Ravens 350-pound defensive tackle, Tony Siragusa.

    The Goose landed on Gannon's upper body after an incomplete pass to James Jett, sending him to the sidelines, and eventually, the locker room for good. The Raiders offense could never really get started and in fact, were only able to cross midfield for the first time after Ravens QB Trent Dilfer put them there in the second quarter by throwing an interception.

    The Ravens offense was not much better but they made the biggest play of the post season when it mattered most. Following a 54-yard punt and a sack of Dilfer inside the Ravens five-yard line, Baltimore's offense was facing third and 18 from their own four-yard line.

    The play call was Rip Double Slant, but when the Raiders showed blitz, Dilfer checked down to his hot read, tight end Shannon Sharpe. The Raiders came after Dilfer as they showed they would pre-snap but Dilfer stood tall and delivered a perfect quick strike against the Oakland pressure to his veteran tight end as planned.

    Sharpe found 96-yards of daylight and with the help of fellow Ravens receiver Brandon Stokley, the end zone, (pictured above) to give the ravens a 7-0 lead.

    The Ravens defense took over and after three Matt Stover field goals; the Ravens defeated the Raiders 13-3, to win the AFC Championship. Two weeks later in Tampa, Baltimore’s defense would again rise to the occasion against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.

No. 2 January 7, 2001: Ray Lewis Seals Ravens Second Win in Tennesse

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    The Ravens became the first team to win at Adelphia Coliseum earlier that November, and in the process snapped the Titans NFL record 12 game home winning streak to open a new stadium. Ravens fans knew that victory was not without the help the football gods, as Titans kicker Al Del Greco missed an extra point and a 43-yard field goal as time expired to preserve the Ravens 24-23 win.

    Winning in Nashville for a second time in less than two months would be difficult, especially with the bad blood that had developed between the two teams since the ravens November win.

    Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher was upset at the Ravens coach Brian Billick. Following the win in November, Billick used a Sports Illustrated cover that proclaimed the Titans as the best team in the NFL, to rub his team’s victory into the Titans players and fans.

    Billick told his team in the locker room, as he held up the SI cover,” ‘Here it is guys, the NFL's best team. Well, maybe they are.' Then he paused and finished, 'But not today!' an NFL Films crew was there, filming the whole made for sports TV drama.

    Just prior to the start of the playoff game Fisher got his hands on the film and had the Titans video replay operator play the scene to fire up his team and the crowd. Billick was furious by the move, but his players assured him prior to kickoff on the sidelines that they had their coaches back. Ravens CB Chris McAlister added fuel to the fire when he proclaimed that Titans RB, Eddie George "folded like a baby" in their November meeting.

    Tennessee came out determined to make the Ravens pay, took the opening kickoff, drove down the field, and scored a TD on a two-yard run by Eddie George. The Titans defense, not the Ravens, ended the 2000 season as the No.1 unit in the league, and they came out playing that way, forcing the Ravens to punt on their first two possessions.

    The Ravens finally got on the board in the second quarter when Jamal Lewis scored from one yard away. A 56-yard pass to tight end Shannon Sharpe from Ravens QB Trent Dilfer set up the TD.

    The Titans, as they always seem to do against Baltimore, began to squander numerous chances to take the lead. The Titans came away empty handed after blocking not one, but two Ravens punts.

    The Titans could only hang their heads, as 17-year veteran kicker Al Del Greco continued his miserable performance from the teams November meeting. Automatic Al picked a bad time to have his worst game as pro. He bounced one off the uprights and had two kicks blocked. With the game tied at 10, one of those Ravens blocks from a Del Greco attempt turned into seven points. Ravens reserve safety Anthony Mitchell alertly caught the deflected ball out of the air and returned it 90-yards for a Ravens touchdown.

    Tennessee’s frustration was becoming evident. The Titans owned every important stat on the board. They held a two to one advantage in time of possession, had 17 more first downs, and outgained the Ravens by 183 yards but still trailed late in the game.

    In what is perhaps the most famous play in the history of the franchise, Ray Lewis finished off the Titans when he grabbed a bobbled pass from Eddie George out of mid air at midfield, broke two tackles and returned the ball for his first career touchdown.

    Lewis’ pick six gave the Ravens a 24-10 win and sent the man who kicked more field goals since 1993 than any kicker in the NFL, and won 16 games with his leg, into retirement.

    If Brian Billicks' speech following the November win was a classic, than everyone who has ever seen his Coors Light commercial will remember the one he used at his press conference following this win. Billick said, "When you go in the lion's den, you don't tippy toe in—you carry a spear, you go in screaming like a banshee, you kick whatever doors in, and say, 'Where's the SOB?' If you go in any other way you're gonna lose."

    The Ravens did not lose again, and the following week won the AFC Championship in Oakland. Then in banshee fashion, they went on to dominate the Giants in this article's No.1 greatest Ravens victory of all time.

No. 1 January 28, 2001: Super Bowl XXXV Champions

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    In what many consider the most dominating defensive performance in Super Bowl history, the Baltimore Ravens held the New York Giants to 152 totals yards, did not surrender an offensive touchdown and forced five turnovers in their dominating 34-7 win.

    The Ravens knocked the Giants around early and often, never taking their foot off their throats. Giants QB Kerry Collins, who threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns during New York's 41-0 win over the Vikings in the NFC Championship game, looked confused, slow and at times scared of the ferocious Baltimore D.

    The Ravens scored in every phase of the game. They scored on offense twice, defense once and added a special teams touchdown, killing any Giants momentum. Baltimore struck first when Brandon Stokley ran past Giants DB Jason Sehorn for a 38-yard TD reception from Trent Dilfer.

    Dilfer, who was returning to play in the stadium where he suffered some of his greatest failings in the NFL, again managed the offense to perfection while allowing the defense to control the game.

    The Ravens led 10-0 at halftime, and after a great halftime show that featured Aerosmith, Brittany Spears, The Back Street Boys, Mary J Blige and Nelly was complete, continued their dominance in the second half.

    The third quarter scoring was kicked off by Ravens cornerback Duane Starks, who stepped in front of a Collins slant pass, and returned it 49-yards for the Ravens defensive TD of the game. The Giants Ron Dixon then returned the ensuing kickoff 97-yards for the Giants only score of the game.

    Not to be outdone, Ravens Pro Bowl kick returner Jermaine Lewis immediately matched Dixon's return with an 84-yard touchdown of his own on the ensuing kickoff. The score was an emotional one for Lewis, who suffered a personal tragedy when he lost his stillborn son in December. Lewis dedicated the game and TD in his honor.

    The three touchdowns in just 36 seconds set a Super Bowl record, as did the successive kick returns for touchdowns.

    Linebacker Ray Lewis, who sat in jail charged with murder during the days following the previous year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta, finished off a great season in which he won the defensive player of the year award, by winning the Super Bowl MVP. Lewis became just the sixth defensive player to do so.

    Following the game, Art Modell lifted the Lombardi Trophy in the air and said, “To the people of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and the State of Maryland, this belongs to you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

    No Art, thank you. Here is hoping that the 2011 season adds a few more games to the list of greatest victories in Ravens history.


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