'00 among best ever

The Baltimore Sun

No disrespect to the current Ravens defense, but this one is a no-brainer.

The 2008 Ravens defense is very good, but the case can be made that the 2000 squad is the best ever. The '08 unit isn't even the best this season. It's hard to admit around these parts, but that honor belongs to the hated Steelers.

The numbers for the 2000 defense speak for themselves. It set a record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season (165, 10.3 per game), gave up just 970 yards on the ground (60.6 per game) and recorded four shutouts (in a span of seven games). Perhaps the most impressive fact is that, thanks to the defense, the Ravens were able to win two games during their infamous five-game touchdown drought.

As stout as that defense was during the regular season, it was even more dominant in the postseason. The unit allowed just one touchdown and a total of 16 points in four playoff games (excluding the kickoff return by the Giants in the Super Bowl). In the AFC championship game, the Ravens held the Raiders - who scored nearly 30 points per game during the regular season - to three (thanks in large - and I do mean large - part to mountainous tackle Tony Siragusa squashing quarterback Rich Gannon and putting him on the sideline for a significant portion of the game).

The statistics are amazing, but not all that surprising considering the personnel. The '00 Ravens had seven defensive players who made a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. And though both teams have tough guys, the Super Bowl champs never got pushed around the way this season's unit did by the Giants. They also never got embarrassed the way the current defense did by the Colts. 2000 Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Ray Lewis simply wouldn't allow it. The future Hall of Famer still plays at a high level, but he was on a whole other level in 2000. And so was the defense he led.

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