The Baltimore Ravens are one of the most successful NFL franchises. The team relocated to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1996 after its owner, Art Modell, was in financial peril and disagreed with the city about upgrades to the stadium. With plenty of funding and fans, the move seemed positive. But after a few losing seasons, a new head coach took over. The Ravens became the team to beat.
The early years of the Ravens franchise
Baltimore wasn’t always a powerhouse. In 1996, the team ended the season 4-12. 1997 wasn’t much better with a record of 6-9-1. With the team still enduring losing seasons, Brian Billick took over as head coach in 1999. The team worked hard that year to turn their luck around and finished with an overall record of 8-8.
The 2000 season was a game-changer for the Ravens. They made the playoffs for the first time thanks to their record-breaking defense and earned a spot in Super Bowl XXXV against the New York Giants. With a 34-7 victory, the Ravens earned their first Super Bowl title.
Defense wins championships
The 2000 Ravens team was primarily successful due to its unprecedented defense. Troubled linebacker Ray Lewis was named Defensive Player of the Year, and two others, Sam Adams and Rob Woodson were named to the Pro Bowl.
During the season, the 2000 Ravens held opposing teams to just 165 total points, a new NFL record. That defense came through and helped win games, even when the offense was struggling. During the Super Bowl, the defense recorded four sacks and caused five turnovers, paving the way for an easy victory against the Giants.
The next few years were fraught with injuries and poor play. John Harbaugh would eventually replace Billick as head coach, and rookie Joe Flacco would help usher in a new era for the Ravens.
The next era
The new Harbaugh/Flacco era ushered in Ravens teams that consistently won games and made it to the playoffs. In 2012, Ray Lewis’s final NFL season, they made it back to the Super Bowl to face off against the San Francisco 49ers.
After posting a 28-6 lead by the third quarter, things were looking good for the Ravens. But the 49ers scored 17 unanswered points and kept closing in on the Ravens’ lead. Once again, the defense took over. With the ball on Baltimore’s seven-yard line, the 49ers couldn’t convert, the Baltimore defense too strong. With that stop, the Ravens earned their second Super Bowl victory.
Considering some teams have never won a Super Bowl, like Buffalo, Arizona, and Detroit, winning two in the team’s 24-year existence is a pretty special feat, according to Baltimore Beat Down. And the Ravens are hoping it won’t stop there.
In 2018, they drafted quarterback Lamar Jackson, and after Flacco was traded to the Denver Broncos, Jackson took over. He led the Ravens to a franchise-best 14-2 record in 2019 and was named the league MVP. Currently, the Ravens are one of the favorites as a Super Bowl contender. Even with injuries to key players and issues regarding COVID-19 diagnoses, the team is still winning.
Once again, even with a star quarterback like Jackson, it’s the defense that’s turning heads. In a close game against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, it was the defense that kept the Ravens in the game, showing the rest of the league that even if the offense is suffering, Baltimore’s defense is more than willing to keep things close. Such play could lead the Ravens down the path to another Super Bowl run.