Baltimore Ravens Legend Rod Woodson Boldly Claims the 2000 Defense Was the Best of All-Time

The adage goes, “Defense wins championships.” In many cases, it does. Several historic NFL defenses have carried the load for their respective teams, including the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Hall of Famer Rod Woodson recently gave high praise to the defense.

Rod Woodson says the 2000 Baltimore Ravens had the best single season of any defense

Baltimore Ravens safety Rod Woodson makes a tackle in the Super Bowl
Baltimore Ravens defensive backs Rod Woodson and Duane Starks combine to tackle Giants receiver in the Super Bowl | Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens have developed into one of the most respected NFL franchises since they entered the league in 1996. The 2000 season was memorable for the new organization, as they went 12-4 in the regular season. Baltimore made a deep playoff run, culminating in a Super Bowl victory over the NFC champion New York Giants.

The team’s success throughout the season was due mainly to its dominant defense. The 2000 Ravens set an NFL record for the fewest points allowed in a single regular season. They allowed a meager 10.3 points per game and pitched four shutouts as well.

The defense was led up front by run-clogging defensive tackles Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa. Playmaking linebackers Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, and Jamie Sharper could fly all over the field. Woodson spearheaded the secondary, alongside cornerbacks Chris McAllister and Duane Starks.

Rod Woodson joined Cooper Manning on the Soup With Coop podcast to discuss several NFL hot topics and the 2000 Ravens team. Manning asked if Woodson thought that defense was the greatest ever. Before giving props to a few dynasties, Woodson replied, “In one given season, absolutely.”

Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis led the charge, and Woodson said the coach “had some great game plans.” The 11-time Pro Bowler raved about the freedom Lewis gave the players. He capitalized on their versatility and allowed the players to play different positions on the field.

Woodson blasted the Ravens offense

The Ravens offense was not nearly as dominant as the defense in the 2020 season. Outside of running backs Priest Holmes and Jamal Lewis, they were nothing to write home about. The tandem combined for nearly 2,000 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns.

Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks started eight games each and combined for 20 touchdowns and 19 interceptions, an abysmal stat line. Below average quarterback play struggled to take the offense to the next level.

Manning characterized the 2000 Ravens offense as “so-so,” at which Woodson hilariously scoffed. “You’re being polite with our offense,” said the All-Pro defensive back. “Our offense sucked.”

This Ravens team relied heavily on their defense to keep them in games. The defense was up to the task too. Before the Super Bowl, Woodson told a story of him, Ray Lewis, and a few other players watching film on the Giants offense. “They’re not going to beat us,” Woodson said.

The defense believed the Giants offense was overmatched, and they were absolutely right. The Ravens held New York to just seven points in the Super Bowl, cementing a dominant season.

3 players from the 2000 defense are in the Ravens Ring of Honor

The Ravens Ring of Honor is an elite club, exclusive to the people within the Ravens organization who have made a significant impact on the franchise during their tenure.

According to the Baltimore Ravens team website, the players inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor “possess a rare combination of talent and characteristics that every member of the Ravens organizations strives to achieve and maintain.”

The key components of the Ring of Honors are character, gratitude, vision, passion, faith/courage, competitive spirit, and humility.

The 2000 Ravens defense featured three inductees. Defensive end Michael McCrary was inducted in 2004, following six seasons in Baltimore. As a Raven, he recorded 299 tackles, 51 sacks, and four forced fumbles.

Linebacker Peter Boulware joined the illustrious group in 2006. He played eight seasons with the Ravens, racking up 401 tackles, 70 sacks, and 14 forced fumbles. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and was named the 1997 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Ray Lewis is one of the greatest Ravens players of all-time. The University of Miami product spent each of his 17 seasons in Baltimore. He recorded 2,059 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 31 interceptions, and 19 forced fumbles in his career. He was the heart and soul of the Ravens team, and he left a lasting impact on the organization. Lewis was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2013 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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