Despite a relatively short existence, the Ravens have a wealth of great moments that fans of much older franchises envy.
But those highs haven’t been without some bumps in between. Keeping it to on-the-field moments only, here are some of the best and worst in Ravens history.
Best: Super Bowls XXXV and XLVII (2001 and 2013)
Let’s get the low-hanging fruit out of the way. In 2000-01 Baltimore did what few new franchises do by winning a championship in just their fifth season of existence. The Ravens posted a franchise best 12-4 regular season record, earning them a wild card spot from which they’d advance to Super Bowl 35. There, Ray Lewis and one of the NFL’s best defenses ever stymied the Giants in a 34-7 romp.
Just over a decade later, Baltimore ended another franchise’s undefeated streak in the Big Game, defeating San Francisco 34-31 in Super Bowl 47. After an electricity blackout suspended play and heightened the drama, the 49ers closed down the Ravens’ 22-point lead to just 5 late in the fourth. But thanks to a 22-33, 287 yard, 3 TD performance from game MVP Joe Flacco and an intelligent intentional safety at the end of the game, the Ravens persevered for their second title.
Worst: Double-Double Digit Elimination (2015)
Baltimore made the wrong kind of history in their 2015 divisional playoff matchup against New England. After surrendering leads of 14-0 and 28-14, Baltimore became the first team in playoff history to blow two, two touchdown leads.
To make matters sting further, Baltimore allowed just 14 yards rushing on the ground in the loss. The Ravens converted just 1 of 9 third down attempts, allowing the Pats to make an eventual game-winning 74-yard TD drive late in the fourth.
Best: Jamal Lewis’ Big Day (2003)
In an early 2003-04 matchup against the Browns, Jamal Lewis opened the game’s scoring with an 82-yard touchdown run. The long rush was an omen for the Browns defense, that failed to come up with an answer for Lewis the rest of the day.
When the game was over the fourth-year pro had amassed 295 yards on the ground, a mark which remained an NFL record for four years (and is still the record for an outdoor game). Lewis averaged a first down nearly every time he touched the ball (9.8ypc) on his 30 attempts during the 33-13 victory.
Worst: Divisional Disaster (2007)
After winning the AFC North in 2006-07 with a franchise best 13-3 record, the first obstacle en route to a Ravens return to the Super Bowl was Peyton Manning’s Colts. Despite added tension from the obvious Baltimore Colts storylines, the game turned out to be a complete slog and the first playoff game without a touchdown since 1979.
Adam Vinatieri was all the Colts needed, giving Indy all of their 15 points via field goals. Meanwhile, the Ravens turned the ball over four times and couldn’t get the running game going (83 total yards). The loss was Baltimore’s third straight one-and-done playoff appearance.
Best: Mile High Miracle (2013)
The AFC’s number one seeded Broncos were huge 9.5 point favorites with NFL sportsbooks ahead of their divisional playoff matchup with Baltimore in 2013, and it’s not hard to see why. The Manning-led Broncos made it through the regular season tied for the league’s best record (13-3), hadn’t lost since Week 5, and boasted one of the NFL’s best home field advantages at Mile High.
So bettors and the Broncos were equally frustrated when the Ravens not only hung around enough to beat the spread, but to pull the outright upset. Late in the fourth, Denver held a 35-28 lead which looked like it would be the clincher when Baltimore faced 3rd-and-3 on their own 30 with just :44 remaining. That’s when Flacco found Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard bomb who miraculously scored to tie the game. In double OT, Justin Tucker hit a 47-yarder to complete the unlikely upset.
Worst: Cundiff’s Chip (2012)
The Ravens have lost twice to the Patriots in the playoffs and both times in excruciating fashion. The first time, the 2011-12 AFC Championship Game, just may have been the worst. Down three with 0:27 left, Lee Evans had a sure TD reception knocked out of his hands that led to Billy Cundiff trying a 32-yarder to send the game to OT.
A semi-suspect hold and perhaps a slight rushing of the kicking unit saw the attempt sail wide left, allowing the Patriots to kill the clock and make yet another trip to the Super Bowl.
Best (and Worst): Lewis’ Last Stand (2013)
Ray Lewis is understandably polarizing as a person, but on the field he was the greatest to ever don the purple and black. The last original Raven made his final appearance at M&T Bank Stadium in style, recording 13 tackles against Indy in the 2012-13 AFC Wild Card game.
Lewis’ final play in front of home fans was not at linebacker where he won so many awards, but at fullback. Running out the clock with a comfortable lead, Harbaugh sent Lewis into the backfield for one last play. Ray Ray celebrated the win with one last dance before being mobbed by teammates in a heartfelt goodbye to the home crowd.