The young and brash Baltimore Ravens began the 2000 NFL season talking playoffs and ending the year as World Champions, thanks to one of the most dominant defenses in pro football history. The Ravens' Super Journey began with an ominous regular season schedule that included five road games in seven weeks. In the middle of it all was a five-game streak without a touchdown. Thankfully, the drought never divided the team.
The race toward the Lombardi Trophy was not without its hurdles: Ray Lewis rebounded from a trying offseason; Trent Dilfer, now a Raven, returned to Tampa Bay for the Super Bowl; an emotional Jermaine Lewis dedicated a superb performance to the memory of his stillborn son. Still, the team rallied the season, and it made the hard-fought victory that much sweeter.
The journey was about the coming of age for talented young players like Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister and Duane Starks. It also belonged to tough veterans like Rod Woodson, Ray Lewis, Rob Burnett, Shannon Sharpe, Matt Stover, Michael McCrary and Jonathan Ogden.
And the journey also belonged to the fans of Baltimore. The fans numbered in the thousands at the downtown sendoff at Harbor Place. Banners and promises hung in the air, and none would be broken.
While the hometown fans would celebrate with seven-straight days of purple pride, the team took off for Tampa for a week of preparation before the ultimate contest. On Sunday, Jan. 28, 2001, the Ravens kept their promise and defeated the New York Giants, 34-7.
Ray Lewis earned Super Bowl XXXV MVP honors, as well as Defensive Player of the Year. The Ravens tied a Super Bowl record with four INTs, and they were only the third team in NFL history to not commit a turnover in a Super Bowl. Most exciting new record? Perhaps three successive scores on three seesaw plays. The back-to-back kickoff returns for TDs were yet another new record.
Following the game, owner Art Modell lifted the Lombardi Trophy in the air and said: "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."
When the Ravens flew home on that beautiful, blue-sky Monday after the Super Bowl, they heard about the parade scheduled in their honor for the next day. The icy downpour that Tuesday phased no one. Hundreds of thousands of fans ignored the rain and cold and waited for their heroes to ride by on Baltimore's crowded city streets.
Later, the entire organization was invited to the White House in June to meet President George W. Bush.
Francine Lubera and Kevin Byrne of the Ravens' public relations office chronicled the run to the Super Bowl in the book "Super Journey: Diary of the Ravens World Championship Season", published in July of 2001.
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