From his seat at the Super Bowl on Sunday, Vonta Leach will summon the past — the Ravens' ascent to the top in the 2012 season and that glorious scoreboard, at game's end, which he'll not forget: Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31.
A framed photo of the Super Bowl XXXV champions hangs on Edwin Mulitalo's bedroom wall; a "Festivus" T-shirt, in his closet. They are cherished keepsakes for Mulitalo, a starting guard for the 2000 Ravens when they won their first NFL title.
The NFL playoffs may be settled, but the Puppy Playoffs will rage on through Super Bowl Sunday and the Humane Society of Carroll County has a dog in that fight. The name is Killian. Cute is what Killian needs in this contest, a social media fundraising competition between 30 shelters and human societies across the U.S., according to Rachel Skolnick, director of marketing for D.C.-based start GoodWorld, which is organizing the "playoff."
It has been 15 years since the Ravens won their first Super Bowl. They won another in 2012, which is remarkable for a franchise that has been in existence for only 20 years. Often there are questions about which team is better, but maybe they can be tied into one. Can Ray Lewis of the 2000 team beat Ray Lewis of the 2012 squad?
The welcome to the NFL moments for Darius Kilgo were plentiful during his first season with the Denver Broncos this fall. The former Maryland defensive tackle endured two-a-days at rookie minicamps last May, appeared in the Broncos' season opener against Baltimore in September and watched Tom Brady try to lead a last-minute New England comeback in the AFC championship game last week. And there's a bunch more ahead for him in the next week.
There will be no storyline unturned during the week-long buildup to the enticing Super Bowl 50 matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, but there will be one that dominates all others. It is, of course, the matchup between 39-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning and soon-to-be-named NFL Most Valuable Player Cam Newton — the once and future kings of the NFL.
Gary Kubiak's loss was the biggest of the offseason for the Ravens. He just has that type of presence about him. Some guys are born to lead, some guys are followers. Kubiak was born to be a head coach and he might end up being one of the best ever when he is done.
If Cam Newton wins the NFL MVP award on Feb. 6, the style-conscious quarterback will debut gold cleats at the Super Bowl, according to Under Armour, which will design them and sell 50 pairs for $500 apiece.
Cam Newton's talent on the field and easy embrace of showmanship has long made him an invaluable ambassador for Under Armour, the Baltimore-based athletic apparel and footwear brand. And his value to the company is about to skyrocket as the Panthers, who defeated the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, prepare for Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7.
Cam Newton brings an added dimension to the quarterback position. There have been signal-callers — like Steve Young, Fran Tarkenton and Steve McNair — who ran out of necessity, and others, like Seattle's Russell Wilson, who took it further with some designed runs. But Newton is a threat as both a passer and runner, and unlike the others, he just doesn't give a damn who he has to fly over to win the championship.
When owner Steve Bisciotti last spoke publicly about the state of his team, the Ravens were about seven weeks removed from the conclusion of a 10-6 season and a berth in the AFC divisional playoffs. Bisciotti graded the 2014 Ravens' performance as an "A," saying that the only thing preventing him from adding a plus to the grade was falling short of the Super Bowl. The owner's tone will probably be far different Thursday afternoon at the "State of the Ravens" address.
The win culminated a three-game playoff sweep and one of the more unlikely championship runs in recent Carroll County rec sports history. The Cavaliers won only three of eight regular season games and seemed to be among the least likely to succeed in terms of winning a football championship.
The Ravens are again looking up at the Bengals and Steelers in the standings, and the gap between the three franchises is wider than it has been in several seasons. When the Ravens (4-10) face the Steelers and Bengals over the final two weeks of the regular season, they'll be playing out the string while their division foes are priming themselves for potential playoff runs.
Carlton Bailey (Woodlawn) has three conference championship rings and the memory of that AFC title game in 1992, when he intercepted a pass by the Denver Broncos' John Elway and ran for a touchdown in a 10-7 victory that sent the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl.
There's seemingly no surefire recipe for success in building an NFL secondary, but one thing could become abundantly clear when the Ravens face the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have found a formula that works for them, while the Ravens haven't.
On the evening of Feb. 3, 2013, the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers met to decide NFL supremacy. On Sunday afternoon, the two teams play again, hoping to stave off 2015 irrelevance. Staying on the NFL mountaintop has proven difficult for both organizations since Super Bowl XLVII. Retirements, free-agent departures and injuries have whittled away talented and deep rosters. There have been off-field issues and on-field deficiencies. After engaging in a classic shootout on the sports' biggest stage,
It used to be a scenario that the Ravens' defense would relish — a three-point lead to protect, just over two minutes to play and a young quarterback tasked with putting together a lengthy game-saving drive against them.
Entering their 20th season as an NFL franchise, the Ravens have won two Super Bowl championships and become a consistent presence in the postseason. These players -- the 20 best in the history of the team, according to The Baltimore Sun's experts -- are a big reason for that success.
As the Ravens start their camp, they do so with a desire to build a smoother path through the playoffs by winning a division title to earn at least one home playoff game. Their bigger goal is earning home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with the top record in the AFC.
The Ravens have hired retired linebacker Jarret Johnson and retired cornerback Duane Starks, a starter on their Super Bowl XXXV championship team who scored a touchdown against the New York Giants in that win, as scouting interns for camp.