We were just too tough, too good

John Eisenberg

TAMPA, Fla. -- You saw it. The Giants gave in. Early. Long before the game was over. Long before it was even decided.

They knew they weren't going to win. They knew the other team was tougher.

They knew the Ravens were just too rough, too brutal, too good.

Everyone knows now.

When you win the Super Bowl, you get more than a trophy and bragging rights. You get a place in football history. The Ravens' place is clear after a 34-7 defeat of the Giants that was about as subtle as a knockout punch to the jaw last night at Raymond James Stadium:

Their defense is among the best ever, and the entire team is among the most physical and punishing ever to suit up in the National Football League. Right up there with the Steelers of the '70s, the Bears of the '80s and any other team that won the old-fashioned way, by hitting the hardest.

By substituting intimidation and domination for fast feet and clever schemes. By pounding and pounding on opponents until their will was crushed.

The Ravens did just that to the Giants last night, just as they did to the Raiders in the American Football Conference championship game two weeks ago and the Titans and Broncos before that. Cumulative final score from the Ravens' four playoff games: 95-23.

Any questions? Not one. Twenty years from now, when historians are asked to recall the team that brought pro foot- ball supremacy back to Baltimore after 30 years, they will say, "Now that was one rough bunch."

A team that talked big and played even bigger. A team that had enough heart to survive a three-game losing streak, enough teamwork to stay together despite going five games without a touchdown, enough defense to overcome a potentially dangerous lack of offense.

If Vince Lombardi's Packers are remembered as a power sweep and Bill Walsh's 49ers are remembered as a Montana-to-Rice touchdown pass, these Ravens will be remembered as a linebacker's driving tackle, a defensive end's thunderous sack, another guy on the other team paying a steep price for daring to carry the ball.

"I sit on the sidelines and watch that defense, and I say, `Man I'm just glad I don't have to play those guys,' " Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said last night.

Some call it boring, one-dimensional, ugly -- in four playoff games, the Ravens converted just 15 of their 60 third-down chances.

"If I were a fan, I might rather watch the [offensive-minded] Rams," quarterback Trent Dilfer said.

Don't call them boring

But know this: Anyone who calls them boring didn't line up on the other side of the ball. Didn't experience the sore bones and broken spirits the Ravens give out as parting gifts.

"This team just hits you, keeps coming at you and never lets up," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

The Giants never had a chance last night. The 41 points they scored on the Vikings in the National Football Conference championship game were as worthless as the silver confetti that rained on the field after the final gun last night. They scored their only points on a kickoff return.

They did the right thing, mind you, eschewing the running game, flooding the field with receivers and daring the Ravens secondary to make plays. That's the only way to take on the Ravens defense, which simply can't be run on.


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