Let’s define "impressive" before we begin:
1. Big win by points where the score is reflective of the action on the field
2. Over a good team (season record and points scored/allowed often included)
3. Bonus for doing it on the road
4. Great comebacks need not apply
5. Squeakers over great teams are also not what we are looking for here
6. No differentiation is made for importance of the game
7. The relative strength of the Ravens is also ignored
The Ravens have administered 9 shutouts in their history, but the only team among those that had a winning record was the 2000 Steelers. The other shutouts:
3 bad Cincy teams at home 1999-2001
2 bad Browns teams at Clev., 2000 and 2003
1 terrible Cowboy squad 2000
Tampa Bay the opener 2006
Piitsburgh in 2006
Subjectively, I’d say the 2006 Pitt team was better than the team they fielded in the 2000 opener (Graham at QB, remember?), but the 2000 team came back to beat the Ravens in Baltimore. Those Steelers would finish 9-7 with a 321-255 edge in points, and the shutout was on the road.
It’s easiest to look at the other big wins by year.
From 1996-1998 their most impressive wins were a 31-17 home win on a soggy field in 1996 vs. Pittsburgh (10-6, 344-257) and their 36-10 win at Tennessee (8-8, 333-310) in 1997.
In their 12th game of 1999, the Ravens drubbed the eventual AFC champion Titans 41-14 (13-3, 392-344) in Baltimore. It was the start of a 4-game winning streak and in my view, the start of the dynasty as the Ravens would win 21 of 26 culminating with the 2001 season opener. That Ravens team had other one-sided wins against bad teams (Cle 41-9, NO 31-8, Cin 22-0).
Other than the 16-0 season opener at Pittsburgh (9-7, 321-255), the 2000 team had no one-sided wins vs. good teams during the regular season. They knocked the snot out of some bad teams (Cin 37-0 & 27-7, Dal 27-0, Cle 44-7, SD 24-3).
In 2001, the 26-7 win over Tennessee (7-9, 336-388) at home in week 4 was most one-sided win, but that Titans team was not particularly good. They also beat Chicago (13-3, 338-203) 17-6 in week 1 before anyone had an idea they would be good.
The 2002, week 4 win over Denver (9-7, 392-344) on Monday night (34-23) ranks among their most surprising results, and the 31-point 2nd quarter, capped by the McAlister return, was the most dominant quarter the team ever played.
From 2003, the 26-6 blasting of Denver (10-6, 381-301) was terrific, but the Broncos started their 3rd-string QB in the game. The 2 wins over Cleveland were both very impressive defensive efforts (Jamal’s 295 game, then the 35-0 shutout at Cleveland). That Cleveland team (5-11, 254-322) wasn’t good, but the Ravens tagged them for 55 of their 68 point scoring deficit. The Ravens also thrashed a decent 49ers team (7-9, 384-337) 44-6 in Baltimore.
The 2004, 30-13 win over Pitt in week 2 was the season’s most impressive win. They ran the ball 9 straight times on the first drive. Tommy Maddox was knocked out by the Ravens in that game, ushering in the Big Ben era in Pitt, and a season that would not see Pitt lose again until the AFC Championship.
Green Bay finished 4-12 in 2005 and was outscored by their opponents by 46 points on the year, but the Ravens contributed 45 of that in their 48-3 Monday night win. This has to go in the big win vs. a bad team category for me. Brett Favre tossed the game away early and the team benefited from Aaron Rodgers’ first significant NFL playing time in the 2nd half.
The 2006 Ravens had several one-sided wins. After the 27-0 shutout at Tampa in the opener, they crushed a hideous Oakland team 28-6 in week 2. They beat New Orleans 35-22 (10-6, 413-322) in week 8. The Ravens led that game 35-7 before allowing a couple of late scores. And of course they twice shellacked the Steelers (8-8, 353-315), 27-0 in Baltimore and 31-7 at Pitt. That Steelers team was +89 in games not involving the Ravens.
The best win of the 2007 season was the 5-interception win vs. the Rams (3-13, 263-438) at home in week 8, 22-3. That doesn’t make the list.
The Joe Flacco era was ushered in with several impressive wins. The 41-13 drubbing of the Texans (8-8 366-394) at Houston in week 10 was the franchise’s largest win by points vs. a .500+ team. After the loss to the Giants the following week, they played their best game of the season, blasting the Eagles (9-6-1, 416-289) 36-7 in week 12. In week 13 they beat the then 1-9-1 Bengals 34-3 at Cincy. In fact, the 2008 Ravens won just 1 game by less than 9 points (Week 1, 17-10 over Cincinnati).
OK, here is my top 10 list for the regular season:
1. 1999 Tennessee 41-14
2. 2006 Pitt 27-0
3. 2006 @Pitt 31-7
4. 2008 Philadelphia 36-7
5. 2000 @Pitt 16-0
6. 2004 Pitt 30-13
7. 1998 @Tennessee 36-10
8. 2008 @Houston 41-13
9. 2003 @Cleveland 35-0
10. 2003 San Francisco 44-6
Fortunately for Ravens fans, they have also played some great postseason football. The most lopsided games:
1. SB XXXV 34-7 vs. the Giants. The Ravens beat a very good team by 27 at a neutral site. Forget the importance of this game, the Ravens have never beaten anyone this good, this thoroughly. Boring answer, but think how lucky we are to have the franchise’s most dominating ever performance come in the its biggest ever game.
4. 2008 27-9 win at Miami (11-5, 345-317) in the Wild Card round. These 2 Miami teams were very similar. The 2001 team was a little better, but the 2008 win was probably a little more decisive on the field. The 18-point win in 2008 is the Ravens’ largest margin of victory ever over a team with a winning record on the road. The general weakness of the AFC East schedules in 2008 was the deciding factor for me.
5. 2000 21-3 thrashing of Denver (11-5, 485-369) in the playoffs. This game dropped a couple of notches because the Broncos started backup QB Gus Frerotte. Wow, that was some playoff run.
I’m sure there will be complaints excluding the 2000 divisional playoff game at Tennessee. That’s a case where the score was not indicative of the action on the field. It was a great win, the milestone win of the 2000 season, had 2 of the most important plays in team history, and is my best personal football memory, but it doesn’t make this list. The Titans dominated field position all game, but Del Greco made just 1 of 5 FG attempts (1 for 4 in the books, but he missed one kick twice due to an offsides penalty) to reverse that dominance.
Combining the regular season and postseason lists:
1. SB XXXV vs. Giants 34-7
2. 1999 Tennessee 41-14
3. 2006 Pitt 27-0
4. 2006 @Pitt 31-7
5. 2008 Philadelphia 36-7
6. 2000 AFCC @Oakland 16-3
7. 2001 Wild Card @ Miami 20-3
8. 2000 @Pitt 16-0
9. 2004 Pitt 30-13
10. 2008 Wild Card @Miami 27-9
11. 2000 Wild Card Denver 21-3
12. 1998 @Tennessee 36-10
13. 2008 @Houston 41-13
14. 2003 @Cleveland 35-0
15. 2003 San Francisco 44-6
Now, let the debate begin…