Flashback: Denver First Playoff Opponent In Ravens History

The Ravens, in their fifth season of existence, had never been to the playoffs before the 2000 season. Fittingly, their first playoff game in franchise history would come at home in front of a raucous Baltimore crowd that hadn't seen a playoff game at home since the Baltimore Colts hosted the Raiders in 1977.

On what was supposed to be a very special day in Baltimore, the Ravens carried a swagger into the game. A seven-game win streak and a defense that set an NFL record for fewest points allowed will do that for you. The linebacking corps boasted Ray Lewis, Jamie Sharper and Peter Boulware, certainly a handful for any offense. Rookie running back Jamal Lewis carried the offense with his bruising running style that wore defenses down. In a season that would be remembered for their defense, they certainly stood out vs. Denver.

Gone from Denver's attack was Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway. In was Gus Ferotte. Gone to an injury that ended his season was All-Pro running back Terrell Davis. Mike Anderson was in. The offense that the Broncos boasted during their back-to-back, Super Bowl-winning seasons had undergone some change. Still, they were a potent team that finished with an 11-5 record, earning a wild-card spot and a trip to Baltimore. Long-time NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski was in the middle of their defense that would need to make some plays in order to win.

The Ravens did not let their fans down in the first home playoff game the Baltimore fan base had seen in 23 years. Baltimore came out and dominated the Broncos' offense from the start. Denver crossed midfield only one time and only managed three points. Broncos quarterbacks were sacked five times in all and the running game wasn't much better. When the final whistle blew, Baltimore had won their first playoff game by a final score of 21-3.

Stat of the game
Denver's 42 yards rushing. When the weather gets cold and the playoffs begin, running the football becomes imperative. That was not the case for the Broncos on this day. Denver had little success against the Ravens' run defense, and it reflected on the scoreboard.

Player of the game
Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary. McCrary terrorized Ferotte throughout the contest. McCrary finished with four tackles, three sacks (-23 yards) and three more hits on the quarterback.

Play of the game

The most memorable play from the game was a bit of a fluke, actually. Trent Dilfer threw a pass in the flat to Jamal Lewis. Lewis tipped the ball and it bounced around in the air until it eventually fell into the hands of tight end Shannon Sharpe. Sharpe then raced 58 yards for the score on quite the bizarre play.

Quote of the weekRavens wide receiver Qadry Ismail on the team's potential in the playoffs: "You do what you need to do to get into the playoffs. That's a challenge. Now, we've got to go on and establish ourselves as a team that, regardless of the team that we play, they're going to have (to put) the fear of God in them because we've been playing so well. The film that their coaches are going to show them shows that, man, these guys are good."

What it meant
The win put the Ravens into the divisional round where they knocked off the Titans at Adelphia Coliseum, 24-10. The AFC championship game was played in Oakland, and Baltimore turned in another stout defensive performance, winning 16-3 and advancing to the Super Bowl. The New York Giants would meet them in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl XXXV. The Super Bowl was played similarly to the AFC championship game, with Baltimore's defense once again not allowing a touchdown. The 34-7 victory over New York gave the Ravens their first Super Bowl title in just their fifth year of existence.

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