The formula has been tweaked, however.
"It was better late than never," Billick said. "They dropped an eighth guy down in the box a lot more than I thought they would initially and left themselves vulnerable to the pass. They had a good game plan, but, fortunately, we were able to crack it."
Said Allen: "We started running straight at them. We gave our offensive line a chance to get the big guys moving sideways and then me cutting back underneath them. It started to work out. Once you get the offensive line in a rhythm, then the back can get in a rhythm."
After the pre-game celebration for the Super Bowl champions, the Ravens turned the fans' roar into silence.
Committed to a fast-break but conservative game plan, the Bears held the ball for 21 1/2 of the game's first 30 minutes. Matthews completed 16 of his first 23 passes for 116 yards, as Chicago reeled off 14- and 15-play drives.
Despite all the time, the Bears managed just a 20-yard field goal by Paul Edinger. The Ravens made two goal-line stands on the game's first drive. By game's end, the Ravens had wrestled back the tempo, intercepting Matthews twice in the final six minutes.
"Our philosophy is they don't score, they don't win," Lewis said. "We'll give up a field goal here or there, and you may make us mad. Just for them to get down to the red zone, we knew we had to buckle down."
For now, the road back to the Super Bowl title has begun on a reminiscent first step.
"It's time to start this thing all over again," Sharpe said. "I think everybody enjoyed what happened last year. Now, we have to move past that. I'm not thinking about last year. All my energy is focused on getting back to the same point."