This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Ravens’ 2000 season, which ended with a Super Bowl championship. Which moments stand out the most during that season?
1. Sept. 10: “Raven-Wild”
The Ravens trailed, 23-7, at halftime to AFC Central rival Jacksonville in the second game of the year. The Ravens stormed back in the second half to take a 32-26 fourth-quarter lead only for the Jaguars to take the lead, 36-32, with 1:45 left. Tony Banks led the Ravens down the field and threw the game-winning, 29-yard touchdown pass to Shannon Sharpe with 41 seconds remaining. “Shannon Sharpe in the end zone and the place is going Raven-wild,” then-radio play-by-play voice Scott Garceau said.
2. Oct. 22: Dilfer Takes Over
The Ravens went through a now-infamous five-game stretch without scoring a touchdown, which included the entire month of October. In the fourth game of that stretch, head coach Brian Billick decided to make the biggest change he could: He switched quarterbacks. In the middle of a 14-6 loss to AFC Central foe Tennessee, Billick benched Tony Banks, who had thrown three interceptions in the game, and turned to Trent Dilfer, who then took over the starting job the rest of the way. “There’s nothing more dramatic for a team to deal with, good or bad, than a change at the quarterback position,” Billick said on the “America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions” series. “And it just, it had to happen.”
3. Nov. 5: Drought Ends
After a 9-6 home loss to Pittsburgh, the Ravens found themselves on a three-game losing streak. But Baltimore wouldn’t lose again, and it all started with a 27-7 home win against the Cincinnati Bengals. With the Ravens up, 3-0, late in the first quarter, Sam Adams forced an Akili Smith fumble that was recovered by Michael McCrary, setting up the Ravens deep in Bengals territory. Dilfer hit Brandon Stokley for a 14-yard catch-and-run touchdown to end the touchdown drought. The Ravens went 322 minutes and 32 seconds between touchdowns.
4. Nov. 12: An Adelphia First
With the touchdown drought a thing of the past, the next task for the Ravens was to win at then-Adelphia Coliseum, where the Titans hadn’t lost a game since the stadium opened in 1999. With the Titans up six late, Dilfer drove the Ravens down the field and connected with Patrick Johnson for a touchdown with 29 seconds to play. Matt Stover hit the extra point for a one-point lead. However, a good kick return and two completions put the Titans in field-goal range to win the game. But Al Del Greco missed, and the Ravens held on for a 24-23 win.
5. Nov. 19: Dominating Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys won just five games in 2000, but they were the team of the ’90s — they won three Super Bowls during the decade — and some key members from those teams were still around, including future Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. The Ravens controlled the game from start to finish, picking off Aikman three times in one of the final games of his career and holding Smith to 48 yards rushing. Ray Lewis was responsible for one of the interceptions.
6. Dec. 10: “Playoffs” Ban Lifted
The Ravens were 9-4 coming out of their bye week and could clinch a playoff spot with a win against the San Diego Chargers. In the weeks leading up to that game, Billick had warned players he would fine them if he heard them saying “playoffs” or “Super Bowl.” Instead, players used the terms “Festivus” and “Festivus Maximus.” But in the locker room after a 24-3 win against the Chargers, Billick flipped the switch. “Obviously, the fine for the P-word is off,” Billick told his players. “Men, the time is here. It’s time to go to a Super Bowl.”
7. Dec. 24: Jermaine’s Game
In mid-December, Jermaine Lewis’ son Geronimo was stillborn at 8 months. Lewis missed the Ravens’ Week 16 game at Arizona, then returned for the last game of the regular season against the New York Jets. With the Ravens ahead, 20-17, in the third quarter, Lewis returned a punt 54 yards to put his team up 10. And then with the Jets having trimmed the lead to seven, the former Terrapin returned another punt for a touchdown — this one 89 yards. The Ravens won, 34-20, and clinched the No. 4 seed in the AFC and a home game in the wild-card round of the playoffs. “To be on the sideline and watch Jermaine Lewis, having just buried his son, returning kicks for touchdowns and basically winning the game for us, is something that I’m going to remember for as long as I live,” Billick said on “America’s Game.”
8. Dec. 31: Shannon On The Spot
With the Ravens up, 7-3, in the second quarter of their wild-card round game against the Denver Broncos, Dilfer threw a pass to Jamal Lewis in the flat at about midfield. Lewis couldn’t corral the pass, and the ball was popped into the air by Denver’s Terrell Buckley. Sharpe came down with the ball and streaked down the right sideline for a 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown. “I sat there with my arms crossed and watched him run down the sidelines going, ‘This is unbelievable. This is perfect,'” Dilfer said on “America’s Game.”
9. Jan. 7: Pregame Montage
Prior to the Ravens’ divisional-round playoff game at Tennessee, the Titans showed a montage on the video board that was titled, “Special Message from Brian Billick and the Baltimore Ravens,” and included the Ravens celebrating after their 24-23 regular-season win at Tennessee and Billick’s postgame locker-room remarks. “I didn’t appreciate it, but the players noticed and they knew exactly what was going on,” Billick said on “America’s Game.” “More than one player came by me and said, ‘We’ve got your back on this, Coach.'”
10. Jan. 7: The Blocked Field Goal
With the Ravens and Titans tied at 10 early in the fourth quarter, Tennessee kicker Al Del Greco lined up for a 37-yard field goal to try to put the Titans up three. Keith Washington blocked the kick, and it landed in the hands of Anthony Mitchell, who raced 90 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown and 17-10 lead. “Perfect timing,” Mitchell told PressBox early this year. “Keith got his hand on it as soon as I dropped back. The ball was floating in the air and I just ran up under it and ran down the sideline, the whole time thinking, ‘Don’t get caught.'”
11. Jan. 7: Ray’s Moment
With 6:55 left in the game and his team down by seven, Steve McNair dropped back on second-and-14 from the Titans’ 47-yard line and threw to Eddie George, who was covered by Ray Lewis. The ball was thrown behind George, who juggled the ball. Lewis got a hold of the ball, escaped George’s grasp and ran the interception back 50 yards for a game-clinching score. “I remember Eddie grabbing my leg, and I remember snatching my leg from Eddie,” Lewis said on “America’s Game.” “Running down that sideline, I could not hear a sound.”
12. Jan. 14: Sharpe Surprise
Early in the second quarter of the AFC championship game against the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens were backed up with a third-and-18 from their own 4-yard line with a deafening crowd sensing the Raiders were about to get prime field position. Instead, Dilfer hit Sharpe on a slant pattern that he turned into a 96-yard touchdown to spark a 16-3 Ravens win. “I think the play was called 22 Seattle, and basically we just wanted to get enough room so we could give our punter, Kyle Richardson, the full 13 yards to be able to punt the football and not worry about it being blocked,” Sharpe told the Ravens’ website in 2015. “That was the whole purpose.”
13. Jan. 28: Trent’s Tampa Toss
Dilfer spent the first six years of his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he returned to Raymond James Stadium for Super Bowl XXXV against the New York Giants. The Ravens kicked off the game’s scoring when he hit Brandon Stokley down the seam in stride for a 38-yard touchdown.
14. Jan. 28: Sealing The Deal
The Ravens and Giants combined for three touchdowns in 36 seconds during the third quarter. It was the last of those touchdowns that helped put the game away for Baltimore. After Duane Starks returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown and Ron Dixon returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, Jermaine Lewis returned a kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead. The Ravens would tack on 10 more points for a 34-7 final score.
15. Jan. 28: Art’s Thank You
Majority owner Art Modell had moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore after the 1995 season. Five seasons later, he was addressing his team after a Super Bowl victory. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of this organization,” Modell told the team. “Forget the front office. The head coach, the staff, the players, the trainers, everybody — you’ve done me proud, and I’ll never forget it. I thank you.”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens