Stadium Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary


M&T Bank Stadium has had a short existence by NFL standards. Compared to longtime football havens like Arrowhead Stadium and Lambeau Field, its 10-year tenure might seem insignificant at first glance.

Over the past decade, the stadium has been through winning and losing seasons, been witness to changes in sponsorship and ownership, had three names and has seen three head coaches roam the home sidelines. Originally Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards and then PSINet Stadium, it officially became M&T Bank Stadium in May 2003 after a 15-year, $75 million deal was announced. It has seen its share of history being made, records being broken and fans being brought together. It celebrates its 10-year anniversary Saturday, and decided to take a look back at some of the most significant moments fans have witnessed this past decade.

The First Game: Sept. 6, 1998

Despite a 13-20 loss to the Steelers which dampened the mood, 68,847 fans were there to witness the first game every played in Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards, the Baltimore Ravens' brand-new, state-of-the-art stadium. Although the Ravens had played in Baltimore for two seasons prior, the switch from Memorial Stadium marked a turning of the page for both team and city, as the Ravens embraced the modern age of the NFL with their new $223 million home.

The Colts Return to Baltimore: Nov. 29, 1998

Emotions ran high for Charm City as the Colts played a regular-season game in Baltimore for the first time since leaving for Indianapolis 15 years earlier. The Ravens overcame a two-touchdown deficit by scoring 25 second-half points. Quarterback Jim Harbaugh – playing against his former team – engineered his 13th career fourth-quarter comeback, while the defense shut out the Colts for the last 15 minutes of play. Safety Ralph Staten intercepted Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning late in the game to seal the emotional victory –a small bit of redemption for a city that loves the game and its team.

A Monkey (or Jaguar) Off its Back: Sept. 10, 2000

The Ravens firmly established themselves in the NFL with a come-from-behind victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that had beaten them the first eight times they had ever played. The Ravens were down 23-7 at halftime, but instead of ranting at his team, head coach Brian Billick kept his message simple.

"I told them that what they do in the second half – win or lose, it doesn't matter – will define who they are," Billick said. Quarterback Tony Banks responded by throwing a career-high five touchdown passes, the last of which was a strike to tight end Shannon Sharpe with 48 seconds left to win the game. The victory did indeed define who they were that season: Super Bowl Champions.

Records for Christmas: Dec. 24, 2000

With the Super Bowl firmly in their sights, the Ravens finished the 2000 regular season with another stellar defensive performance on Christmas Eve against the New York Jets, winning 34-20. They set several new NFL records in the process, allowing only 165 total points and just 970 yards rushing in 16 games. The team finished 12-4 on their way to their first playoff appearance in franchise history.

The Road to Tampa: Dec. 31, 2000

In an AFC Wild Card playoff game, the Ravens dominated the visiting Denver Broncos, who came in with the NFL's second-ranked offense and owned a seven-game postseason winning streak. The Ravens "D" held them to a single field goal and only 42 running yards, while RB Jamal Lewis ran for 110 on his own. Baltimore hosted – and won – its first home playoff game since 1977 and on a road that would lead to Tampa, Florida and a Super Bowl XXXV victory.

Run C-Mac Run: Sept. 30, 2002

The previously winless Ravens cruised to victory in a Monday Night Football matchup against the Broncos, winning 34-23 at Ravens Stadium. Baltimore scored a team-record 31 points in the second quarter, which also featured the first blocked punt in team history (courtesy of recent first-round draft pick Ed Reed). On the last play of the half, cornerback Chris McAlister returned a field goal attempt 107 yards for a score, helping the youngest team in league history to victory. McAlister's return went for the longest play in league history (since broken).

Running Away With It: Sept. 14, 2003

He may play for the Browns now, but Jamal Lewis' greatest game came against Cleveland when he rushed for a then-NFL record 295 yards in a 31-13 victory over Baltimore's division rival. Lewis broke loose for a run of 82 yards on his first touch, then had runs for 63 and 48 yards on his way to the record. This game was pivotal to Lewis eclipsing 2,000 yards for the season and holding the second-highest single-season rushing title in the NFL.

Comeback Kid: Sunday, Nov. 23, 2003

Quarterback Anthony Wright, once a third-stringer, led the Ravens from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to a 44-41 overtime victory in what was, at the time, the largest comeback in team history. Wright threw for a career-best 319 yards and four touchdown passes, keeping the Ravens' playoff hopes alive. This was only hours before driving his wife to the hospital where she was induced into labor, giving birth to his second daughter.

"This is something you dream of," Wright said afterwards. "For us to come back and win this game is unimaginable. It was looking very, very dim, but we just let it all hang out. Everything came together. It's unbelievable – down by that much and to come back. It gives me tears."

Stomping the Steelers: Nov. 26, 2006

There is no love-loss between Ravens and Steelers fans, which is why the 27-0 domination over the then-defending Super Bowl champions stands out in the minds of Ravens fans young and old. The Ravens sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger nine times, a franchise record, and held the bitter rival to only 172 total yards. The defining moment of the game came with linebacker Bart Scott sprinting untouched to ram Roethlisberger square in the chest.

"That's probably the hardest I've ever been hit in my life," Roethlisberger said afterwards, who lay on his back on the field for a few minutes before getting up. The Ravens would go on to win the division that year and become the second seed in the playoffs, while the Steelers were left watching from home.

The Colts Come Back for a Playoff Game: Jan. 13, 2007

The Colts played their first playoff game in Baltimore since 1977, and came out victorious against a Ravens team that ultimately fell flat after dominating most of the regular season. The fans of Baltimore invested huge amounts of emotion in what was ultimately a disappointing game, but that does not change the fact that for one rainy afternoon in January, an entire city came together like never before as history faced off against the present with more at stake than ever before.

Patriots Squeak By: Dec. 3, 2007

The largest crowd in Ravens history, 71,382 fans, watched as the Ravens played their hearts out against the undefeated New England Patriots, only to come up just short. Quarterback Kyle Boller threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns in his finest performance of the season, and the defense sacked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady three times. The Patriots still managed to score the go-ahead touchdown in the last minute, and the game ended with Boller throwing a 52-yard bomb to wide receiver Mark Clayton to New England's 3-yard line as time expired. The Patriots went on to go 16-0 in the regular season, with the Ravens giving them their toughest task until their loss in Super Bowl XLII.

The Harbaugh/Flacco Era Begins: Sept. 7, 2008

There's no way of knowing how the 2008 Ravens season will unfold, but with new head coach John Harbaugh on the sidelines and rookie quarterback Joe Flacco under center, this weekend's home opener against the Bengals promises to be a memorable one. Hopefully, the next 10 years at M&T Bank Stadium will have twice as many memories, records, and successes as the first 10 did.

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