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Ravens regular-season moment No. 1: Beating Jacksonville

Posted on 29 June 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 2 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE and the entire top 25 list HERE.

Novelty and nostalgia had defined the Baltimore Ravens.

A new generation of Baltimoreans finally had a team after 12 years in the NFL doldrums, but the Ravens were much closer to being the Bengals than the Steelers in those early years, going 16-31-1 in their first three seasons and finishing no higher than fourth in the old AFC Central. General manager Ozzie Newsome was building a promising foundation anchored by left tackle Jonathan Ogden and middle linebacker Ray Lewis — two Pro Bowl talents and the first two draft picks in team history — but no one knew exactly when or if that work would pay off.

From playing their first two seasons at Memorial Stadium and hiring Ted Marchibroda as their first head coach to the Baltimore Colts marching band playing and Johnny Unitas and other legends attending games, the Ravens were draped in Baltimore football history. It was a smart and heartwarming nod to the past, but the organization ultimately needed its own legacy after relocating from Cleveland in 1996.

Those Ravens were somewhere between the old Browns and the new Colts, but they were nowhere near NFL relevancy.

The 1999 campaign brought flashes in December with the Ravens winning for the first time in Pittsburgh and blowing out eventual AFC champion Tennessee on their way to an 8-8 finish, but a couple good performances playing out the string after a 3-7 start couldn’t be viewed as a definitive breakthrough. Brian Billick’s second year as head coach would tell the truth.

Baltimore opened the 2000 season with an impressive 16-0 win at Pittsburgh, building on the significant defensive improvement shown during the previous season. But the bigger test would come in Week 2 when the Ravens hosted Jacksonville for the home opener at PSINet Stadium.

The Ravens had never beaten the Jaguars, who had become the class of the AFC Central shortly after their expansion start in 1995. An 0-8 mark consisting of squandered leads, the occasional blowout, and plenty of last-minute heartbreak best illustrated how far Baltimore still needed to come while Jacksonville was coming off its fourth straight postseason appearance, a 14-2 record, and a trip to the AFC Championship game.

No breakthrough appeared imminent in the first quarter as Pro Bowl quarterback Mark Brunell and Pro Bowl wide receiver Jimmy Smith shredded the Baltimore defense for 45- and 43-yard touchdown passes and Billick’s team trailed 17-0 at the end of the period. These looked like the same old Ravens.

Still trying to cement the starting job after a solid finish to 1999, quarterback Tony Banks threw a touchdown to rookie wide receiver Travis Taylor to put the Ravens on the board, but the rest of the second quarter wasn’t much better than the first with the Jaguars adding two more field goals to take a 23-7 lead into halftime. This wasn’t what anyone in Baltimore had wanted, but old habits die hard, especially against Jacksonville.

“At halftime, I told them one thing,” Billick said. “What I told them was, win or lose, it will make no difference. The second half will define who we are. How we conduct ourselves will define the kind of team we are.”

The Ravens took those words to heart coming out of the locker room as the offense needed only four plays to find the end zone with Banks throwing another touchdown to Taylor. A two-point conversion cut the deficit to 23-15 and brought a previously frustrated sold-out crowd to life.

A Banks interception on the next drive led to the fourth Mike Hollis field goal of the day, but the 27-year-old quarterback bounced back with a touchdown pass to fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo, making the score 26-22 late in the third quarter. The stage was set for a thrilling final period.

After punting on their first possession of the fourth quarter, the Ravens collected their second takeaway of the day when outside linebacker Jamie Sharper forced a fumble and recovered the ball at the Jacksonville 12. Banks threw a touchdown to the speedy Jermaine Lewis on the next play as Baltimore took a 29-26 lead with 10 minutes to go.

Maybe it would be different this time.

That optimism only grew after safety Kim Herring intercepted Brunell on the next drive, setting up a 44-yard field goal by Matt Stover to increase the lead. The Jaguars answered with a 48-yard field goal as Baltimore still held a 32-29 advantage with time dwindling.

Having forced two turnovers leading to 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Ravens defense had regrouped from that ugly first half and now had its opportunity to cement that elusive first win against Jacksonville. However, Brunell and Smith still had 2:42 left to torment Baltimore one last time.

After picking up a first down to move into Ravens territory and now facing a third-and-6 from the 40 with 1:55 to go, Brunell faced a heavy blitz and heaved one deep toward wide receiver Keenan McCardell. What happened next seemed to be the cruelest trick yet in the Ravens-Jaguars history as the ball deflected off McCardell’s hands and right to Smith, who broke a Duane Starks tackle and jogged into the end zone for the go-ahead score. It was Smith’s third touchdown catch of the day as he finished with a whopping 15 catches and 291 yards, the most by an opponent in Ravens history.

Here we go again.

Despite erasing a 16-point halftime deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter, the Ravens were trailing 36-32 with 1:45 to play and back in a familiar position with the Jaguars on the verge of improving to 9-0 against them. Only a few fans moved toward the exits while the remainder sat quietly, lamenting how this had happened again.

But the Ravens finally changed the script as Banks completed a pair of throws to little-used receiver and special-teams veteran Billy Davis — who made only one other catch all season — to move the Ravens into Jacksonville territory. A 12-yard completion to Ayanbadejo moved Baltimore to the 29-yard line before Banks spiked the ball to stop the clock with 48 seconds left.

To this point, the start of former Denver tight end Shannon Sharpe’s tenure with the Ravens had been quiet as he didn’t register a catch in the season opener and had only two receptions for 21 yards in the ongoing shootout. Newsome had not only been looking for more production at tight end with the high-profile signing that February, but he valued Sharpe’s pedigree as a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time Super Bowl champion for a franchise that was still learning how to win.

The time was perfect for a lesson.

Sharpe took off right down the seam at the snap and caught a 29-yard rope for the touchdown. The 32-year-old tight end danced and smiled in the end zone while Banks lifted his arms in celebration upon throwing his fifth touchdown of the game, a new team record.

The catch brought a roar louder than anything experienced in the brief history of the 69,000-seat stadium opposite Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Thousands of voices were lost, ears rang, and the upper deck swayed as Stover kicked the extra point to give the Ravens a 39-36 lead with 41 seconds left.

Goosebumps.

There would be no miracle answer from Jacksonville this time as safety Corey Harris intercepted Brunell on the last play of the game. Chants of “Let’s go, Ravens!” bounced down the ramps as departing fans celebrated.

Novelty and nostalgia had been replaced by an arrival.

It didn’t matter that it was only a Week 2 victory. Banks would lose his starting job to Trent Dilfer six weeks later and the Ravens would go five straight games without scoring a touchdown in the middle of that 2000 championship season, but that wasn’t the point. From that exhilarating moment, they were no longer the old Browns or even the new Colts. The Ravens were a viable NFL franchise and here to stay.

The last-minute win over Jacksonville had changed everything.

“It says we’re headed in the right direction,” said defensive end Michael McCrary, who had joined the Ravens in 1997. “It said that the offense had the confidence and composure to go down the field and score. It was a huge turnaround from our teams of the past.

“We’ve never beaten them, and we needed to know as a team where we stood.”

Now two decades later, the Ravens own two Super Bowl championships, have multiple Hall of Famers, and are among the NFL’s model franchises.

But that was the moment that started it all.

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Ravens regular-season moment No. 22: Win or “get run out of town”

Posted on 12 May 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 23 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

My father cried when the Colts moved to Indianapolis.

My grandparents felt the all-too-familiar twinge in their stomachs at any mention of the Indianapolis Colts or one of their players breaking a franchise record previously held by Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Raymond Berry, or Lydell Mitchell. Losing the franchise was bad enough, but the stolen identity and history cut even deeper.

Long before the Ravens arrived in 1996, Baltimoreans vowed to win another Super Bowl before the Irsay family and the Colts would bring one to Indianapolis.

Those types of reactions and sentiments were commonplace, and the wound still hadn’t healed — if it ever would, really — when the Colts returned to Baltimore to play the Ravens on Nov. 29, 1998, 15 years after their final game at Memorial Stadium. The Colts had gotten the best of the Ravens in the teams’ first meeting in Indianapolis two years earlier, but this would be the first time Baltimore fans could root against the once beloved horseshoe in person. And they were ready.

The problem was the Ravens weren’t in the first half as a defense still another year away from greatness gave up an unseemly 339 yards and trailed 24-13 at intermission. Rookie quarterback Peyton Manning was having the best game of his infant career while Pro Bowl running back Marshall Faulk had two long touchdowns in that first half to put the Colts in front by double digits.

A last-place Indianapolis team with just two wins on the season slapping around the Ravens was a difficult pill to swallow, but the home team battled back in the second half. After the sides exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter, Baltimore quarterback Jim Harbaugh found Floyd Turner in the corner of the end zone for a 22-yard score to open the last period and trim the deficit to 31-28. An energized Ravens defense then forced a three-and-out, and Priest Holmes raced 36 yards for the go-ahead touchdown moments later as nearly 69,000 fans basked in the first lead of the day with 13:07 to play.

A ball-control drive resulting in a Matt Stover 47-yard field goal increased the advantage to 38-31 with 2:49 to go, giving Ray Lewis and the defense the opportunity to seal the most meaningful win in team history to that point. Manning and the Colts drove to the Baltimore 24 with 1:13 remaining as Ravens fans held their breath and cringed at thoughts of overtime as Indianapolis took its final timeout.

On second-and-1, Manning’s pass to the left flat caromed off Faulk and into the arms of reserve safety Ralph Staten, who then offered more drama with his fumble that was recovered by Ravens cornerback DeRon Jenkins.

Game over.

Nothing could erase the past and Manning would become a painful thorn in the Ravens’ side in the years to come, but Baltimore had its measure of revenge that was 15 years in the making. Moments after the final kneel-down, Harbaugh presented the game ball to Unitas, who was a fixture on the sideline at Ravens home games in those years.

The gesture was a scene out of a movie in which past meets present. It was perfect.

“I could tell how much it meant to the fans,” said Harbaugh, whose older brother would one day become the winningest coach in Ravens history. “They turned on the Colts shortly after they came out there. They turned on us shortly after that. It was either get run out of town, laughed out of town, or win the game.”

The Ravens would win only one more game that year as Harbaugh and head coach Ted Marchibroda — both with former ties to Indianapolis — would move on in the offseason, but no one could take away the entire city’s satisfaction in handing the Colts a loss on the football field.

Two years later, Baltimoreans would cry tears of joy as the Ravens won their first Super Bowl and the city’s first in 30 years. Indianapolis wouldn’t have its first until after the 2006 season.

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McCrary to announce Ravens’ second round pick at NFL Draft

Posted on 02 May 2014 by WNST Staff

The National Football League announced today that 32 NFL former players, one representing each team, will announce live on Friday, May 9, second-round Draft picks from Radio City Music Hall. This marks the fourth year in which each selection in the second round is announced by a former player.

The list of players scheduled to make selections includes 11 Pro Football Hall of Famers, with five from the Class of 2014. Combined, these players have nearly 20 Super Bowl championships and 150 Pro Bowl appearances between them.

Arizona Cardinals, Aeneas Williams (S)**

Atlanta Falcons, Claude Humphrey (DE)**

Baltimore Ravens, Michael McCrary (DE)

Buffalo Bills, Andre Reed (WR)**

Carolina Panthers, Mark Carrier (WR)

Chicago Bears, Mike Singletary (LB)

Cincinnati Bengals, Ken Riley (CB)

Cleveland Browns, Eric Metcalf (WR)

Dallas Cowboys, Dat Nguyen (LB)

Denver Broncos, Gene Mingo (HB)

Detroit Lions, Herman Moore (WR)

Green Bay Packers, James Lofton (WR)

Houston Texans, Chester Pitts (G)

Indianapolis Colts, Marvin Harrison (WR)

Jacksonville Jaguars, Brad Meester (C)

*Kansas City Chiefs, Curley Culp (DT)

Miami Dolphins, Larry Little (G)

Minnesota Vikings, Joey Browner (S)

New England Patriots, Willie McGinest (DE-LB)

New Orleans Saints, Morten Andersen (K)

New York Giants, Harry Carson (LB)

New York Jets, Chad Pennington (QB)

Oakland Raiders, Willie Brown (CB)

Philadelphia Eagles, Mike Quick (WR)

Pittsburgh Steelers, Terry Hanratty (QB)

St. Louis Rams, Kevin Carter (DE)

San Diego Chargers, Jamal Williams (DT)

San Francisco 49ers, Dennis Brown (DE)

Seattle Seahawks, Walter Jones (T)**

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Derrick Brooks (LB)**

Tennessee Titans, Kevin Dyson (WR)

Washington Redskins, London Fletcher (LB)

Hall of Famers are listed in bold and the class of 2014 is indicated by **. The Kansas City Chiefs, marked with a *, do not have a second-round selection, barring a trade into Round 2. Curley Culp will announce their Round 3 pick.

The 2014 NFL Draft will continue the three-day format introduced in 2010, with the first round broadcast in primetime at 8:00 pm ET on Thursday, May 8. Rounds 2 – 3 will air at 7:00 pm ET on Friday, May 9. The Draft concludes with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, May 10 at 12:00 pm ET. The NFL Draft will be broadcast on NFL Network and ESPN/ESPN2. Fans also may watch the live NFL Network stream on NFL Mobile from Verizon and follow the NFL Draft conversation on Twitter with #NFLDraft.

In addition, Round Two of the NFL Draft will be sponsored by Bud Light, the official beer sponsor of the NFL. To kick off the fourth year of its sponsorship, Bud Light will provide 32 NFL fans – one representing each team’s fan base – a VIP experience at the Draft including a dinner reception with the players. Additionally, one of the winning fans will receive the opportunity to announce his or her favorite team’s second round draft pick on stage with the player, and the other 31 fans will serve as card carriers for their teams’ pick.

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Ravens gather to commemorate Super Bowl XLVII a final time

Posted on 08 June 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The Super Bowl ring ceremony was quite the extravagant party in Owings Mills that served as a reunion for the 2012 Ravens as well as the final big celebration of the second championship in franchise history.

Yes, Baltimore’s home opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 15 will include the unveiling of a second Super Bowl championship banner, but that ceremony will be overshadowed by an actual game and won’t include those who’ve moved on to other organizations but were able to return to the team’s facility to receive their lavish Super Bowl rings.

Media access was limited at Friday night’s event as it was a party for members of the organization, but the Ravens provided an interesting foursome of players to speak to the media minutes after the rings were unveiled.

Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco, and Torrey Smith all stood at different stages of their career as they received their championship rings with the 38-year-old Lewis speaking to reporters first. Having retired after winning his second championship, Lewis spoke as a fatherly figure throughout the postseason and once again expressed his satisfaction over not only having the opportunity to go out on top but to see his teammates experience what it meant to be a champion.

“I always told them I wanted them to really feel what the confetti felt like. Now to be here, to have something that symbolizes it, it’s the ultimate because now it connects us forever,” said Lewis, who also wore his Super Bowl XXXV ring after receiving the Super Bowl XLVII one to wear on his opposite hand. “It took me 12 years to get back and get another ring. I want them to cherish what this moment feels like right now while we’re world champions.”

Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP, responded only how he could with the honest assessment of a gaudy ring that includes white gold and 243 round-cut diamonds. As Lewis pointed out, Flacco won a championship in his fifth season — like the linebacker did with the 2000 Ravens — and the championship surely provided validation in the minds of those who wondered whether he could lead Baltimore to a championship.

The quarterback admitted he probably won’t wear the ring, but it won’t be sitting locked up in his closet either.

“It’s kind of unwearable,” said Flacco, drawing laughter from reporters. “When I see people for the first time, I’m sure they’re going to have some interest in seeing it or at least I’m going to have some interest in showing it off to them. I’m definitely going to bring it a couple of places. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m going to wear it, but it’s pretty special.”

Entering his third season, Smith represented the younger players on the roster fortunate enough not to wait long to taste Super Bowl glory in their NFL careers.

And the former University of Maryland product struggled to keep his eyes off the hardware as he spoke to media.

“I told you all what I was going to be like. I didn’t cry or anything, but I can see how women feel when they get a ring,” said Smith as he laughed. “It has a lot of different meanings. There will never be another season like this. We can win the Super Bowl every year while I’m in the league and there will be nothing like this one.”

The most intriguing of the four to speak was 11th-year linebacker Terrell Suggs, who finally earned the Super Bowl ring he’s dreamed about after starring on the vaunted Baltimore defense for a decade. While Lewis, Flacco, and future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed received most of the attention for different reasons, Suggs won his first championship after the most difficult season of his career in which he recovered from a torn Achilles tendon in late April and then played with a torn biceps for the final two months of the 2012 season.

Always one to provide a colorful quote and having the reputation of being the class clown of the Ravens locker room, Suggs’ sincerity in describing how he felt upon finally seeing his first piece of championship jewelry was the highlight of the brief session.

“To have it so close, it finally hit me what exactly we accomplished together,” said Suggs, who figured out his ring was hidden in front of him when he was discouraged from moving his seat at the beginning of the ceremony. “It didn’t take a year. It took me 11 years to get it. It took coach [John] Harbaugh from when he got here in 2008 — we’ve been chasing this. It finally paid off, all that blood given. There’s not a word that describes what I’m feeling right now and all the emotions.

“The journey was long, but it was worth it. But I will tell you this, I damn sure want to feel like this again.”

Owner Steve Bisciotti took care of former members of the organization by not only awarding Super Bowl rings to David and John Modell, the sons of the late owner Art Modell, but to the five members of the team’s Ring of Honor who played on the Super Bowl XXXV championship team. It appears Bisciotti is setting a precedent by giving rings to Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary, Matt Stover, and Jamal Lewis, but fellow Ring of Honor member Earnest Byner wasn’t included in that group.

Byner was the only member of the Ring of Honor to have played for the Ravens — the Hall of Fame members of the Baltimore Colts are also honored — who did not receive a ring, so it appears this is a subtle way of ignoring the former Browns, Redskins, and Ravens running back’s inclusion, which was never accepted by fans from the time Byner was inducted in 2001.

He was a favorite of the late Modell, but seeing Byner’s name listed among Ravens greats as well as the Hall of Fame Colts has always looked out of place.

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