Safety Records Pick Six to Seal The Victory
Through the first 11 games of the 2001 season, the Ravens were well on their way to a second consecutive playoff appearance.
The year after they won their first Super Bowl, the Ravens started the season 7-4. However, their defense took a bit of a step back. In their first 11 games of 2001, the Ravens allowed 187 points. In 20 games the year prior (regular and post season), they allowed 188 points.
In Week 12 of 2001, Baltimore hosted the Indianapolis Colts for just the second time ever. Emotions were still raw, for obvious reasons. With a bye week looming, it was imperative Baltimore not lose focus or momentum. This was a very big game for the purple and black.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Colts were leading the Ravens, 27-26. But thanks to a 13-0 fourth quarter, the Ravens came out victorious, 39-27, while in the process notching what would be their highest point total of the season.
It wasn’t an especially clean game. Both teams combined to commit 11 penalties for 113 yards and eight turnovers. But when it mattered most, Baltimore sealed the deal with its trademark defense.
The Ravens limited the Colts to 51 yards rushing and they held Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne to a combined 110 yards (and one touchdown). The biggest defensive play of the game, though, took place during Indy’s 2nd half two-minute drill.
Trailing 32-27, the Colts had forced the Ravens to punt after a mere 56-second possession. With 1:47 remaining, no timeouts, and on his own 26-yard line, Peyton Manning needed a touchdown to win. He dropped back to pass and threw a deep ball in Harrison’s direction.
Unfortunately for them, Rod Woodson had other plans.
Woodson intercepted Manning’s pass and took it 47 yards to pay dirt. It was Woodson’s 20th and final interception as a Raven, and the 61st of his career. It threw PSINet Stadium into a frenzy.
As I witnessed Woodson weave his way to the end zone from my upper deck perch, I had a tremendous view of one of the NFL’s best defensive players of all-time at his best.
That play took place on December 2, 2001. Fifteen years ago today, Woodson didn’t just win a game and he didn’t just make a big play. He set an NFL record.
With his pick-six that day, Woodson recorded his 10th career interception for a touchdown, which put him in sole possession of first place all-time. To this day, he still holds the record with 12. The next closest active player is Denver’s Aqib Talib (9).
As we would later find out, plays like that against Manning wouldn’t happen very often. After that interception, Manning would go on to throw 434 touchdowns to 176 interceptions–an impressive ratio of 2.5:1.
From 2002-10, the Colts went 8-0 against the Ravens.
But on that December day 15 years ago, Woodson made sure Baltimore was victorious.