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Counting down the Top 10 moments at Ravens stadium: No. 4

The Ravens' downtown stadium, which is currently called M&T Bank Stadium, is celebrating its 10th season of existence. We're going to look at the Top 10 moments in its history, listing two each day.

4. First playoff game. Dec. 31, 2000

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Riding a dominating effort by their defense, the Ravens stamped themselves as a Super Bowl contender with a 21-3 win over the Denver Broncos.

It was the first playoff game played at the Ravens' downtown stadium and remains the Ravens' only postseason victory at home.

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"No one thought we would beat the Denver Broncos. Everyone thought we would be out," defensive tackle Sam Adams said after the first home playoff win by a Baltimore NFL team since 1971. "We showed we deserved to be here, and we're going to have to be reckoned with."

Played in frigid conditions -- there were wind gusts of up to 27 mph with a wind-chill factor of 5 degrees -- the Ravens' record-setting defense systematically destroyed one of the NFL's best offenses.

The Ravens allowed the league's second-ranked offense just 42 rushing yards and 177 total yards. The Broncos crossed midfield only once, got as far as the 12, and settled for a 31-yard field goal by Jason Elam.

"They say great pitching stops great hitting," Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "Well, a great defense stops a great offense."

Offensively, the Ravens got a big rushing game from rookie running back Jamal Lewis (110 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns) and a fortuitous touchdown pass from Trent Dilfer to Sharpe.

It started as a short toss to Lewis in the flat. But Lewis mishandled the ball, and then Denver cornerback Terrell Buckley batted it. Sharpe, who cut short his route, wound up catching the ball when he was preparing to make a tackle.

Sharpe scampered 58 yards down the right sideline, getting big blocks from Sam Gash and Patrick Johnson, to a huge touchdown and 14-3 lead.

But this victory marked the start of a dominating playoff run by a defense with something to prove.

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"When you win Super Bowls, I think you always put those defenses in an elite class," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said after the game. "If Baltimore can do that, I think this defense will be considered one of the best of all time."


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