Back in June of 2008 we decided to revisit what we believed were the best Ravens plays in the team’s history up to that point.
But this was six seasons ago. Which if any of these plays would stay? Which would you bump? What plays might you replace them with? Please share in the comments section below.
10. The Ravens took a 20-13 lead against the Cleveland Browns on a mild November 7, 2004 Sunday night. With 7:03 left on the game clock, Jeff Garcia rallied his team and took them to the Ravens 5 yard line with 45 seconds remaining in the game. With nothing to lose most expected the Browns to go for a two point conversion and the win should they score a touchdown. Facing a second and five, Garcia tried to hit Aaron Shea down near the goal line but Shea was hit by Ray Lewis just as the ball arrived (some believe perhaps a split second too soon). The pass deflected off Shea and into the hands of Ed Reed who scooped the ball just before it hit the end zone. 106 yards later, Reed’s record interception return for a score put an abrupt end to Cleveland’s comeback and sealed the 27-13 victory for the Ravens a score that certainly isn’t indicative of how close the game really was.
9. In Baltimore, we always feel that we’re on the short end of the stick when it comes to Monday Night Football. Not in 2002. The 0-2 Ravens were facing a smoking hot 3-0 Denver team on MNF. Despite a lackluster at best performance v. Tampa Bay the week before the Ravens’ early season bye, the atmosphere at then Ravens Stadium was electric. The voltage meter went off the chart after a long field goal attempt at the end of the first half by Denver’s Jason Elam fell way short and into the waiting arms of Chris McAlister who was standing 7 yards deep in the end zone. Initially McAlister hesitated but eventually emerged from the end zone after “encouragement” from Ray Lewis. Ray’s hit on a Denver special teams player Keith Burns was one for the ages and it sprung McAlister as he raced down the sidelines for an NFL record 107 yard scoring play.
8. Leading 14-3 early in the second half, the Ravens took advantage of great field position at the Denver 28. On second and nine, Trent Dilfer handed the ball to Jamal Lewis on a bitter cold New Year’s Eve afternoon in Baltimore in 2000. Jamal broke through the line and then leveled his former college roommate, Al Wilson and continued into the end zone for a 27 yard score. Although it was still early in the third quarter the packed PSI Net Stadium crowd knew that with the Ravens stifling defense, the franchise’s first ever playoff victory was in the bag.
7. Same Denver playoff game…Trent Dilfer clanks a pass off the shoulder pads of Jamal and the ball caroms into the air just waiting to be picked off. Instead, Shannon Sharpe snatched the ball out of the cold December air and took off down the visitor’s sideline. It appeared as though Shannon would get knocked out of bounds by a closing Bill Romanowski but that never happened thanks to a crushing block on Romo by Sam Gash. Gash sent Romo rolling towards his own bench as Shannon Sharpe tight roped the sideline into the end zone for a 58 yard score and a 14-3 Ravens lead. The crowd noise reached decibel levels reminiscent of the Insane Asylum on 33rd Street.
6. Fast forward to the following week when the Ravens took on one of their bitter rivals, the Tennessee Titans. With the game tied at 10-10, Al Del Greco prepared for a go-ahead field goal. Instead, Keith Washington was able to get his hand on the kick and the ball bounced into the Ravens secondary where it was scooped up by Anthony Mitchell. Mitchell led by an army of blockers made his way down the sideline to an eventual score. The play was a 10-point swing and an extremely critical play in Ravens history. In seconds, a potential 13-10 deficit turned into a 17-10 advantage.
5. When you have Steve McNair as your quarterback, a seven-point lead, even against a stout Ravens defense, is not safe. When the Titans took the ball after the ensuing kick, we all sat on the edges of our chair. On a swing pass to Eddie George, the Titans initially appeared that they would advance the chains. But a man named Superman, aka Ray Lewis, closed on the play quickly. Not only did he prevent the first down, Ray took the ball from George and then proceeded into the end zone, eventually giving the Ravens a 14-point lead and silencing the crowd at Adelphia. “We’re goin’ to California!”
4. After a scoreless first quarter in which the usually reliable Matt Stover missed an easy field goal, the Ravens found themselves on their own 4-yard line facing a third down and long. The Raiders brought the house with a safety in sight. Trent Dilfer was able to get off a quick slant to Shannon Sharpe. Sharpe eluded one tackler and thanks to a Brandon Stokley block, he sprung into the open Raiders secondary that was left thin due to the all out blitz. Escorted down the field by Patrick Johnson, Sharpe finished off the longest play from scrimmage in an AFC Conference Championship ~ a 96 yard touchdown. Tampa seemed within reach.
3. Super Bowl XXXV was scoreless. The Ravens had just missed on a couple of long attempts to Patrick Johnson. A normally conservative offense took a wide-open approach. It appeared as though they were looking to expose a match up in the Giants secondary. And then it happened. Trent Dilfer hit Brandon Stokley who had beaten Jason Sehorn. From the moment it left Dilfer’s hands, those of us fortunate enough to be at the game knew that the pass had 6 written all over it. I can remember feeling that the play was in slow motion and the ball couldn’t get to Stokley fast enough. Eventually it did and the Ravens had a 7-0 lead. The way the defense looked that day, those 7 points looked like 40.
2. Until the offense went back into ultra conservative mode and Trent Dilfer continued to miss wide-open receivers. The score was 10-0 and Dilfer was looking shaky. The Giants offense didn’t seem to pose a threat but their defense could. The Giants had the ball and Kerry Collins went back to pass. The pass was intended for Armani Toomer who seemed a bit hesitant on his crossing route. His pattern was a bit rounded — not crisp at all. He probably had visions of Jamie Sharper dancing in his head. Earlier Sharper nearly decapitated Toomer’s teammate Ike Hilliard on a similar crossing route. Toomer wanted none of that and Duane Starks read the sloppy route and Collins perfectly. Starks jumped the route, picked off the pass and saw nothing but a waiting end zone in front of him. 17-0…game over! Or so we thought.
1. On the ensuing kick, Ron Dixon went coast to coast untouched to make the score 17-7 after the PAT. Those same fears of Trent Dilfer were creeping back into our collective head. That is, until Jermaine Lewis took the kickoff at the Ravens 16-yard line. J-Lew eluded tacklers and meandered his way down the Ravens’ sideline and into the end zone for an 84-yard touchdown. After the PAT, the score was 24-7. The Giants who had been re-energized by the Dixon return, watched in dismay as their emotional bubble had burst. The team’s body language was that of a loser and we knew then, that the Vince Lombardi Trophy was coming home to Baltimore. Is there any arguing that this was the biggest and best play in Ravens history?
Now, 6 seasons later, what should the list look like? Share your thoughts below…