I’m not sure why this is now my department. But there are far more difficult roles to take on. Just a couple of weeks after Ken Zalis challenged me to make a definitive list of the greatest regular-season plays in Ravens history, I was asked to get back to work.
Because Randy asked (and inspired by one of the more amazing runs we’ve ever seen), I’ll do my best to merge “significant” and “spectacular” in putting together this list. May it be immediately carved in stone as it is unquestionably unimpeachable.
10. Jan. 28, 2001: Jermaine Lewis erases any doubt with Super Bowl touchdown return
We don’t think of the individual plays in Super Bowl XXXV quite the same way because, well, the game was a bludgeoning. The only real threat the Ravens faced in the game was after Ron Dixon returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the third quarter to make it a 17-7 game, but the former Terp quickly ended that threat. The Lewis return was particularly emotional because it came a little more than a month after Lewis had lost his son Geronimo at birth.
(For what it’s worth, Brandon Stokley’s first-quarter touchdown catch was the first play I left off my list.)
9. Jan. 12, 2013: Dennis Pitta keeps the Ravens alive after their Miracle
We’ll get to the other play you remember fondly from this game. And apologies to Corey Graham, whose two picks (including a touchdown return) never get remembered quite the way they deserve to be. But in overtime of this legendary game against the Broncos, the Ravens were backed up to third-and-13 from their own 3-yard line. A punt from that spot would have likely left Denver just outside field goal range. Joe Flacco took a chance on his ever reliable tight end despite tight coverage (and a second defender coming to break it up), delivered a strike and 24 yards later, the Ravens were out of trouble.
8. Jan. 20, 2013: Bernard Pollard’s devastating hit on Stevan Ridley in the AFC championship game
This is conflicting for a couple of reasons. First, Ravens fans have a bit of an awkward relationship with Pollard since his career ended. Second, this really was a truly devastating hit that Stevan Ridley can’t even remember and that’s … unsettling. But we also can’t ignore that it was a defining moment in the title game (and a one-possession game when the turnover was forced). History has not been kind to this moment. But it was a legal hit then and a game-changer in one of the Ravens’ biggest victories ever.
7. Jan. 10, 2021: Lamar Jackson’s latest Houdini act finally gets him on the list
To Randy’s point, if the Ravens make a deeper run this play might well end up being even higher on the list. It’s arguable that the third-and-7 rollout and throw to Mark Andrews at the end of the first quarter was perhaps even more IMPORTANT in Jackson’s first-ever playoff win, but few playoff plays have ever been nearly this spectacular.
6. Jan. 10, 2010: Ray Rice sets the tone for Patriots’ first ever playoff loss at Gillette Stadium
On this day, Flacco would need only complete FOUR passes for THIRTY-FOUR yards for the Ravens to get their first ever playoff win over the Patriots. That’s because Rice’s 83 yard touchdown scamper on the game’s first play would stun New England and its crowd and Baltimore would never look back.
5. Jan. 14, 2001: Shannon Sharpe gives the Ravens all the offense they need in the AFC championship game
What you remember: The Hall of Famer rumbling for 90 more yards after catching Trent Dilfer’s 6-yard slant for the game’s only touchdown as the Ravens punched their ticket to their first-ever Super Bowl.
What you forgot: The play occurred on third-and-18 (!) and it was speedster Patrick Johnson who was literally shoving Sharpe into the end zone to make sure he wasn’t caught from behind.
4. Jan. 7, 2001: Keith Washington and Anthony Mitchell become unlikely heroes as the Ravens go ahead for good against the Titans
In the defining game in Ravens history, they were tied 10-10 with the Titans early in the fourth quarter. Al Del Greco lined up for a routine 37-yarder. Considering the Ravens weren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut in 2000, this could have put Tennessee ahead for good.
“Right before the play, and this is the honest-to-God truth, I said, ‘Lord, please, please, please let me come up with this play,” Washington remembered recently. He indeed made the block, Mitchell brought it back and the Ravens never looked back. We’ll return to this transcendent game in franchise history momentarily.
3. Feb. 3, 2013: The most criminally underappreciated play in team history: Anquan Boldin on third-and-1 in Super Bowl XLVII
This play should be in a museum. With all due respect to the Mile High Miracle (we’ll get there), there WAS a fair amount of luck involved in that play. There was no luck involved in this play. The 49ers had all of the momentum after the Superdome power outage. The Ravens faced a critical third-and-1 from their own 45 with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Then Flacco and Boldin happened. Carlos Rogers was ALL OVER Boldin. It didn’t matter. In football, great offense beats great defense. This was great offense. The next morning, Flacco labeled it the biggest play of the Ravens’ second Super Bowl win.
2. Jan. 7, 2001: Ray Lewis vanquishes Eddie George
It’s both the single most defining play in the Hall of Fame linebacker’s career AND the play that most defined the Ravens’ legacy as a dominant defensive team. Because of that, I’ve often said it’s the most defining play in franchise history.
1. Jan. 12, 2013: Of course. The Mile High Miracle.
Eight years ago this week. The most incredible, unbelievable moment in the history of the franchise. We remain thankful to Rahim Moore for not ruining it.
-Stokley’s Super Bowl catch
-Graham’s interceptions of Peyton Manning in the “Mile High Miracle” Game
-Jackson to Andrews on third-and-7 against the Titans
-Boldin’s game sealing TD catch in the 2013 AFC championship game
-Terrell Suggs’ thigh interception of Ben Roethlisberger
-Jacoby Jones’ Super Bowl record return
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox