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A look at the all-time best Ravens backup quarterbacks

Trent Dilfer throws the ball to the referee as the game clock hits zero vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens won, 27-7, snapping a five-game touchdown drought.
Trent Dilfer throws the ball to the referee as the game clock hits zero vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens won, 27-7, snapping a five-game touchdown drought. (Lloyd Fox / The Baltimore Sun)

Matt Schaub becomes not only Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's most expensive backup since Marc Bulger, but also his most accomplished.

Schaub, 33, signed a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with incentives on Tuesday, and brings 24,311 passing yards, 130 touchdowns, two Pro Bowl selections and 11 years of NFL experience to Baltimore.

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That's just 24,112 yards and, well, 130 touchdowns and two Pro Bowls more than Tyrod Taylor, 25, left the Ravens with after spending four years as Flacco's backup.

The smart money is not on Schaub to add to his career totals with the Ravens; Flacco's never missed an NFL start. Still, he provides a theoretical level of security in the No. 2 quarterback role that the Ravens have not had in some time.

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If Schaub needed to step in and win one game for a banged-up Flacco, could he do it? Ravens fans should probably hope they don't have to find out. But, without yet throwing a pass, Schaub immediatey joins a list of the team's all-time best backup quarterbacks.

No. 1: Trent Dilfer

OK, maybe this is cheating. But remember, before Dilfer became a Super Bowl champion and something of a cult hero for his propensity for winning without eye-popping statistics, he was Tony Banks' backup in 2000.

We all know how that ended, of course. In the midst of what would become a five-game touchdown drought for the Ravens offense, Dilfer took over and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-6, before reeling off 11 straight wins, including the team's 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.

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Dilfer threw 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in those 11 starts, and was mostly asked not to get in the way of a record-setting defense.

No. 2: Anthony Wright

Wright spent two seasons as the Ravens' backup quarterback behind first-round NFL draft pick Kyle Boller, but injuries forced Wright into the starting lineup 14 times between 2003 and 2004.

Wright's performance in 2003 is what earns him a spot on this list. Stepping in for Boller in the season's 10th game, Wright went 5-2 and in one game threw four touchdown passes to lead a 44-41 comeback win vs. the Seattle Seahawks.

Though he did not throw more than two touchdown passes in a game after that win, Wright's performance down the stretch helped the Ravens reach the playoffs, where they lost, 20-17, to the Tennessee Titans.

OK, to be fair, Wright's modest success that season probably had something to do with Jamal Lewis' 2,066 rushing yards. But he was still a fine caretaker of the Ravens' offense, and that's all you can ask of a backup.

No. 3: Randall Cunningham

Cunningham's spent his 16th and final season in the NFL with the Ravens in 2001, the season after they won Super Bowl XXXV with Dilfer.

The team signed Elvis Grbac to be their starter and the 38-year-old Cunningham as an insurance policy. It's a good thing they did.

While Grbac famously struggled with the Ravens (Lewis' training camp injury crippled the rushing offense), Cunningham stepped in and won two games when injury sidelined Grbac midway through the season.

In his first start, Cunningham led a comeback, 18-17, win over the Jacksonville Jaguards, throwing a late touchdown pass and completing 23 of 31 passes for 222 yards. The next week, he completed 14 of 22 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown in a 13-10 win over the Steelers.

Grbac returned for the Ravens' ninth game and Cunningham didn't throw another pass for a team that lost to the Steelers in the AFC divisional round.

No. 4: Tony Banks

Banks was unseated as the starter in 2000 by Dilfer, but in 1999 Banks was promoted to start the final 10 games of the year, went 6-4 and secured the Ravens' first .500 season.

Banks passed for 2,136 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 1999, but failed to maintain that pace when he began the following season as the starting quarterback.

No. 5: Marc Bulger

Bulger didn't throw a pass for the Ravens, but his resume puts him on this list. He joined the team in 2010, his final season in the NFL, after eight years with the St. Louis Rams.

In St. Louis, Bulger passed for 22,814 yards, 122 touchdowns and 93 interceptions and was named to two Pro Bowls, but the durable Flacco kept him off the field in Baltimore. Taylor replaced him as the backup the following season, and Bulger retired.

Who are we missing? Let us know in the comments, or vote for your pick here.

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