[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgzX1umIFfg[/youtube]Like the old clesaque : “it feels like it was just yesterday.” Well it does feel like it was only yesterday. I remember it clearly, the Ravens beat the New York Football Giants by a score of 34-7 in a very lopsided Super bowl XXXV.
I have been a Ravens fan from day one. When Mark Viviono announced on Channel 11 in November of 1995 that the Browns were headed our way, I was hooked. Even when it was thought that the Brown’s name and colors (ug) were heading to Baltimore, I was hooked. Well thank God Art Model let Cleveland keep their name, colors, and history. When the Sunpaper held a phone in vote for the new name; I was one of many people who voted for the name Ravens over Americans and Matadors. The Ravens name got 66% of the vote.
I was there when Vinnie Testiverty led the Ravens to victory in the inaugural game against the Oakland Raiders in 1996. And I stood by the team as they went 16- 31-1 during the horrible Ted Marchabroda era. In 1999 Brian Billick was hired after the Minnesota Vikings did their usual playoff choke. Billick led the team in 1999 to 8-8, and for a few weeks toward the end of 1999, the Ravens had a shot at the playoffs.
Going into the 2000 season, there many high hopes, and expectations. The team was far more talented, and we as fans were looking to see the team secure their first winning season, and a playoff spot. I’ll never forget the excitement in the crowd that day as the Ravens beat the San Diego Chargers by a score of 24-3. Thus giving Baltimore Football fans their first REAL football playoff action since 1977 (I don’t count the USFL nor CFL games, they are and were cheap imitations of the NFL). The last time Baltimore had enjoyed a playoff victory was 1971 when the Colts beat the Brown (how ironic). We were hungry.
On December 31, 2000 (New Year’s Eve) the Denver Broncos came to town on a windy, blistery cold Sunday afternoon. My hope was for the Ravens to at least win this one and show respectability. Well not only did they win, they won pretty convincingly by a score of 21-3. And now it was on to Tennessee.
Quite frankly I didn’t expect to beat Tennessee. I figured we’d go one and done. That was ok by me. We made the playoffs and I thought we’d be looking forward to next year. All I wanted the Ravens to do was play a good game. But they did better than that, they went into Tennessee and shocked them by a score of 24-10.
Now I thought to myself, WOW, we have a real shot at this thing. Could the Ravens beat Oakland and go to the Superbowl? All the football “experts” didn’t give us a chance against the Raiders and the “Black” Hole. According to these “experts”, our Cinderella ride would end in Oakland. Well guess what, the Ravens punched them in the mouth and beat Oakland 16-3. Oh my we’re going to Tampa to play the Giants, and we’re a touchdown favorite. Could the Ravens possibly win it all in their first postseason since coming to Baltimore five years prior?
In Tampa the Ravens went into half time up 10-0. Then Duane Starks intercepted a Kerry Collin’s pass and took it to the house and made it 17-0. But a special team’s hiccup on the Ravens allowed the Giants to return the kickoff for a touchdown. It was now 17-7, and the Giants were back into the game. But wait, Jermaine Lewis fielded the ensuing kick off at the 16, he got out side, and ran up the sidelines untouched for a Raven’s touchdown. At this point I was so happy, I started rolling around on the floor screaming. I remember my wife looking down at me and firmly told me to CALM DOWN!!!! The Ravens were now up 24-7. As the third quarter ended, you could feel it. The Ravens are soon to be WORLD CHAMPIONS. Just for good measure, the purple birds added another ten points in the fourth quarter and won 34-7.
Now don’t get me wrong, but even if the Ravens win the Superbowl this year, next year, and the year after that, it will never be the same as the 2000 season.
It’s hard to believe that ten years have gone by. The Steelers have won two more since then (and will probably win another next week), the Patriots have won three, as well as Colts, Saints, Bucs, and Giants have each won one. I am blessed to have been a part of such a fun event. Who knows if I may live to see another. We did it in five years. Look at the many teams that have been around for decades looking for their first: Eagles, Chargers, Lions, Browns etc, etc, etc. We here in Baltimore are spoiled. No matter what happens from here on, no one can take the 2000 Raven’s Superbowl XXX Title away from us.
There was something magical about that season. We didn’t expect much that year, and yet we were given a Superbowl Title by the Ravens.