Nothing will top Ravens' first Super Bowl win, but this one was close

The comparisons are inevitable because there has been only one other Super Bowl winning season in the Ravens' 17-year history in Baltimore.

Both the 2000 and 2012 teams will have their special place, but no championship season will ever compare to the first. This season's title, however, adds to the distinction of the Ravens being one of the best franchises in the NFL, and it has created a whole new generation of fans — and excitement — for the organization.


The 2000 season was special because it was the first winning season in club history. Back then there was a lukewarm enthusiasm from fans who struggled with the Browns move to Baltimore, and they compared it to the Colts' relocation from here to Indianapolis in 1983.

But during the team's final seven-game winning streak that year, fan support reached a new high. For the first time, Ravens banners started appearing on cars. "Purple Friday" became a part of the week and the unofficial start of the weekend. City hall and Federal Hill were lit up at night in purple lights, and a new football pride resurfaced in Baltimore.


And when the Ravens defeated the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV, the resurrection of one of the NFL's most storied cities was complete.

No season can ever replace that magical year, but 2012 is close.


There is a new generation of Ravens fans. It's been 12 years since Baltimore won its last title, long enough for another crop of fans to embrace this team. It was clearly evident Tuesday when an estimated 200,000 people packed downtown for a parade that began at city hall and ended at the stadium to celebrate the championship.

It was astounding, especially for those who were around in 1996 when the Ravens couldn't draw more than 400 fans on opening day of training camp, or when media outlets decided the Ravens weren't hot enough to cover yet on a full-time basis.

The comparisons between the two championship teams will be endless, and there are a few. Both were underdogs throughout most of the post season and both teams had to play their final two playoff games on the road.

Both had head coaches, first Brian Billick and now John Harbaugh, who were outstanding motivators and excellent at using the "Us Against the World" theme. Both were also hard-headed, one failing to use running back Jamal Lewis and the other offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, until they were forced to, and both players were keys in their march to the Lombardi Trophy.

At one point, the 2000 team went five straight games without scoring a touchdown. The 2012 team lost three straight late in the season including two at home, one of those a rout by Denver.

Few thought either one of those teams would win Super Bowl titles at those times.

But in 2000, that team won with one of the best defenses in the history of the NFL led by the league's best player, middle linebacker Ray Lewis. The Ravens pitched four shutouts that season, and had nine other games where they held opposing teams to 10 points or less.

They just didn't win games; they took away the opposition's desire to play against them.


This year's team won with offense even though the transition didn't come until late in the season. There was no one great player like the young Lewis, but just a bunch of hard-working guys like quarterback Joe Flacco, receivers Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith and running back Ray Rice.

Fate also played a large part in the success of the 2012 team. Who can forget the dropped two-point conversion pass and the missed field goal by Dallas and the late field goal made by the Ravens' Justin Tucker against New England during the regular season?

Kansas City had a case of fumble-itis and then there was the 4th-and-29 conversion for a first down in the last minute against San Diego. No one will forget the bomb from Flacco to Jones in the final minute of regulation versus Denver in the playoffs.

But to say the Ravens were lucky would only cheapen their success. They showed great resiliency by overcoming injuries to linebackers Terrell Suggs and Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb. They survived the change of offensive coordinators late in the season and believed in the team concept.

It all goes back to the pledge made by owner Steve Bisciotti of wanting a team that would be in playoff contention every year. The Ravens have achieved that, and they have with one NFL's best general managers in Ozzie Newsome and head coaches in Harbaugh.

They are as good of an organization as the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers or the New England Patriots, and that's pretty good company.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun