With Super Bowl Sunday upon us, it got me thinking about the two Ravens championships… 2000 and 2012. Which one is your favorite? (Vote here)
The 2000 Ravens team finished 12-4, but it still wasn’t good enough to win the division. However, before realignment, the top Wild Card got a home playoff game. Though they didn’t win the old AFC Central that year, their first playoff game was at home against Denver. After that, they went on the road to Tennessee and Oakland before facing the Giants in Tampa for the Super Bowl.
The 2012 Ravens finished 10-6, but that was good enough to win the division. They took down the Colts at home in Ray Lewis’ final home game, then won the Instant Classic in Denver in double overtime before beating the Patriots in New England. Then they beat the 49ers in New Orleans for the Championship.
In just their 5th season of existence, the Ravens made a remarkable run to the Super Bowl in the 2000 season. Their defense was relentless. After starting the season 5-1, which included three shutouts, the offense went away. The Ravens went five games without scoring an offensive touchdown, but still won two of them. A QB change mid-season (from Tony Banks to Trent Dilfer) proved to be important. There were a number of memorable plays from that season that stand out, especially those during the playoff run…
Ray Lewis’ 50-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Titans.
The 96-yard touchdown pass from Dilfer to Shannon Sharpe, which still stands as the longest scoring pass in NFL postseason history.
In the Super Bowl, I’ll never forget Brandon Stokley’s 38-yard touchdown catch and drag of Jason Sehorn, nor the three consecutive TDs (Duane Starks’ Pick-6, The Giants’ 97-yard kickoff return, followed by Jermaine Lewis’ 84-yard kickoff return).
The 2012 Ravens had six Pro Bowlers and featured a number of distinct plays that will stand out forever as well.
4th and 29 in San Diego in Week 12 is a biggie. If they don’t make that play, they may not make the playoffs.
Then, obviously, you had the “Mile High Miracle” as Jacoby Jones caught a pass from Joe Flacco with :41 seconds left to tie up the game and send it to overtime.
You also had the power outage and kick-off return in the Super Bowl as memorable events.
The 2000 Ravens had the greatest defense in NFL history. This year’s Seahawks team is trying to stake a claim at that crown, but the 2000 Ravens and 1985 Bears are better than this year’s Seattle team. The ’00 Ravens were big up front and fast in the back. They shut out teams and shut down offenses. To this day, they have the lowest opposing points per game, yards per game, and yards per play. That D changed the way the league had to play offense, and led to a decade of domination for the Ravens’ defense.
The interesting thing is the 2006 Ravens could actually make a case as the greatest defense of all-time, even though they didn’t make it to the AFC Championship. Bill Barnwell from Grantland investigated that team:
“The 2006 Ravens? Yeah, they were better than you remember. They held opposing teams to 12.6 points per game in a league where the average team allowed 20.7 points per contest. They went 13-3, but lost in the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champion Colts without allowing a touchdown; Indy won 15-6 in a game where it recovered all five of the fumbles that hit the ground and picked off Steve McNair twice in the red zone. Baltimore sent six players to the Pro Bowl that year, including each of their four starting linebackers.”
But even Ravens fans don’t look at the 2006 Ravens the way that we do the 2000 Ravens, because of the way the season ended.
But back to the subject at hand… Baltimore is blessed in the football world. Take away the Patriots, and the Ravens have been the most successful franchise in the NFL this century. The 2000 Ravens and the 2012 Ravens were both special in their own way. Both seasons had frustrating parts that made it appear a Super Bowl wasn’t in the cards, while also having remarkable plays that will never be forgotten by Ravens fans.
But to me, there is just something a little bit more special about the 2000 team… maybe it’s where I was in life at that time, or maybe it’s because it was the first Super Bowl for the Ravens and put Baltimore back on the NFL map… but that team defines Baltimore Ravens football and for me is my favorite Ravens season.
I know it can be like picking a favorite child, but if you had to choose just one… which Super Bowl Championship for the Ravens is your favorite?