There is no sporting event more recognizable in American culture than the Super Bowl. The NFL's biggest game is watched by millions, and celebrated like a holiday. Add the Ravens as a participant in the big game, and you have yourself quite a Sunday.
The Ravens and Giants squared off for Super Bowl XXXV on January 28, 2001 in Tampa, FL. The game pitted the league's two hottest teams against one another. Baltimore entered the game on a 10-game winning streak and New York came in riding a seven-game streak.
The AFC champion Ravens possessed the league's best defense, led by a ferocious linebacking corps that featured Ray Lewis, Jamie Sharper and Peter Boulware. Baltimore was battle tested. A five-game streak during October in which the team failed to score a touchdown will do that to you. Remarkably, the team won two of those games. Trent Dilfer had taken over as the team's starting quarterback midway through the year and was directing the offense. The Ravens had knocked off Denver in the wild-card round, Tennessee in the divisional round and Oakland in the AFC championship to get to Tampa.
The NFC representatives were riding high as well. After two-straight losses that dropped the team to 7-4, Head Coach Jim Fassel guaranteed his team would be in the playoffs, and the Giants responded. The team rattled off five-straight wins to earn the NFC's No. 1 seed. They beat Philadelphia in the divisional round and crushed the Minnesota Vikings, 41-0, in the NFC championship game. Kerry Collins, after resurrecting his career, was the signal caller in New York, while Tiki Barber powered the offense, gaining over 1,700 yards from scrimmage during the regular season. Sack artist Michael Strahan was the leader of the defense that would try to hold down the Baltimore offense.
This game was dominated by the Baltimore defense. The Giants offense scored zero points, and New York's only points came on a kickoff return. They punted 11 times and turned it over five times, four on interceptions thrown by Kerry Collins. The Ravens cruised to a 34-7 win, solidifying themselves as the best team in the NFL.
Stat of the game
A 7.1 quarterback rating by the Giants' Kerry Collins. Collins' final numbers were: 15-of-39 for 112 yards, zero touchdowns, four interceptions and was sacked four times. The 7.1 rating is the lowest of any quarterback in Super Bowl history.
Player of the game**
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Lewis capped off his incredible season by being named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV. He finished the game with 11 tackles (five solo) and four passes defensed. The award completed a season in which Lewis won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was named a Pro Bowl starter and a first-team All-Pro.
Play of the game
The Ravens' first touchdown was one of the more memorable moments in this game. Midway through the first quarter, Trent Dilfer hit Brandon Stokley for a 38-yard touchdown pass to break the 0-0 score. After that, it was all Baltimore and the Ravens never looked back.
Quote of the week
Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa on being in the Super Bowl: "If you're not excited about this, you ain't got a pulse. This is a chance of a lifetime. I've been in the league 11 years, and I've been to the playoffs three times, but never the Super Bowl. You have to make the best of it. There's no time to be tired."
What it meant
The victory gave the Ravens their first Super Bowl title in franchise history in just their fifth season of existence. The 2000 Ravens would go down as one of the most dominant defenses in NFL history, setting NFL records for fewest points allowed in a season (165) and fewest rushing yards allowed in a 16-game season (970). The triumph was even more special for Owner Art Modell, who had founded the team and waited a long time for a Super Bowl trophy. Following the game, Modell had this to say after being handed the Lombardi Trophy: "To the people of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and the State of Maryland, this belongs to you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."