There are few days that players and franchises remember for a long time.
September 14, 2003 was that day for Jamal Lewis and the Ravens.
After a slow start offensively in Week 1 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brian Billick wanted to get his offense back to what it does best – running the football.
The Ravens had entered the 2003 season with a rookie starting quarterback after drafting Kyle Boller in the first round of the NFL Draft. With all the promise and excitement that Boller brought to the team, he also came with a lot of inexperience. The focus of the season would be to give the ball to Lewis – and give it to him often. Baltimore's defense was once again among the best in the league, led by Ray Lewis, the eventual winner of the 2003 Defensive Player of the Year AWARD. But in a season that saw the Ravens win the AFC North for the first time in franchise history, it was the individual performance of Jamal Lewis that stole the headlines.
The Browns had high hopes heading in 2003 after making the playoffs the previous year for the first time since their reincarnation in 1999. The rivalry between the Browns and Ravens was certainly heated due to the history between the two teams, and it was intensifying with each game. Both teams entered 0-1 and were looking to get back on track early in the season.
The Ravens' game plan for the afternoon did not waver from start to finish. Jamal Lewis carried the ball 16 times for 180 yards in the first half, and Baltimore played that way as much as they could. When all was said and done, the Ravens won 33-13, but the victory wasn't the main story. Jamal Lewis had rewritten the record books.
Stat of the game
Jamal Lewis' 295 rushing yards, a then NFL record. Lewis carried the ball 30 times for a whopping 9.8 yards per carry. Until Adrian Peterson rushed for 296 yards in 2007, Lewis' mark was the NFL standard.
Player of the game
Without a doubt, it was Lewis. He ran all over the Browns' defense from start to finish, controlling the game in the process. His final stat line: 30 carries for 295 yards and two touchdowns.
Play of the game
On just the second play from scrimmage, Lewis took the carry up the middle and raced 82 yards for a touchdown. From there, the chase was on and Lewis would only add to his total.
Quote of the weekJamal Lewis on his historic day: "I was going in at halftime when Jonathan Ogden said, `Let's go get it. We can get 300 yards.' On a day like today, I can't regret anything. It was beautiful."
What it meant
Lewis' 295 yards kick-started a campaign in which he would become just the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Lewis' 2,066 rushing yards in 2003 still stand AS the second-highest total ever in a season. Baltimore would also go on to win the division for the first time in franchise history, eventually losing to the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round.