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Baltimore Ravens


The Baltimore Ravens came into existence in 1996 when Art Modell, then owner of the Cleveland Browns, announced his intention to relocate his team from Cleveland to Baltimore. The controversy ended when representatives of Cleveland and the NFL reached a settlement on February 8, 1996. The agreement stipulated that the Browns’ name, colors, uniform design and franchise records would remain in Cleveland. The franchise history included Browns club records and connections with Pro Football Hall of Fame players. A new team to begin play in 1999 would be regarded as the “reactivated” Cleveland Browns. Modell’s Baltimore team, while retaining all current player contracts, would officially be the expansion team, a “new franchise.”

Modell relocated the team and hired Ted Marchibroda as head coach. Marchibroda was already well known because of his work as head coach of the Baltimore Colts during the 1970s and the Indianapolis Colts during the early 1990s. Ozzie Newsome, the Browns’ tight end for many seasons, joined Modell in Baltimore as director of football operations. He was later promoted to Vice President/General Manager.

The home stadium for the Ravens first season in 1996 was Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, home field of the Baltimore Colts years before. The 1996 Ravens finished with a 4-12 record. The 1997 Ravens started 3–1. Peter Boulware, a rookie defender from Florida State, recorded 11.5 sacks and was named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year. The team finished 6–9–1. The Ravens played their 1998 season in their own new stadium at Camden Yards. Raven Stadium would subsequently wear the names PSI Net Stadium and then M&T Bank Stadium. Quarterback Vinny Testaverde left for the New York Jets before the season and was replaced by former Indianapolis Colt Jim Harbaugh, and later Eric Zeier. Cornerback Rod Woodson joined the team after a successful stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Priest Holmes started getting the first playing time of his career and ran for 1,000 yards. The Ravens finished with a 6–10 record.

Three consecutive losing seasons under archibroda led to a change in the head coach. Brian Billick took over as head coach in 1999. Billick had been offensive coordinator for the record-setting Minnesota Vikings the season before. Quarterback Tony Banks came to Baltimore from the St. Louis Rams and had the best season of his career with 17 touchdown passes and an 81.2 pass rating. He was joined by receiver Qadry Ismail, who posted a 1,000-yard season. The Ravens struggled early starting 3-6 but managed to finish with an 8–8 record.

Due to continual financial hardships, the NFL directed Modell to initiate the sale of his franchise. On March 27, 2000, NFL owners approved the sale of 49% of the Ravens to Bisciotti. In the deal, Bisciotti had an option to purchase the remaining 51% for $325 million in 2004 from Art Modell. On April 9, 2004 the NFL approved Steve Bisciotti’s purchase of the majority stake in the club.

2000 season — Super Bowl champions

The 2000 season saw the Ravens defense, led by defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, develop into a rock-solid unit that emerged as one of the most formidable defenses in NFL history. The Ravens defense set a new NFL record in holding opposing teams to 165 total points; the feat eclipsed the mark set previously by the 1985 Chicago Bears of 198 points for a 16 game season. Linebacker Ray Lewis was named Defensive Player of the Year and, with two of his defensive teammates, Sam Adams and Rod Woodson, made the Pro Bowl.

Baltimore’s season started strong with a 5–1 record. Banks began the 2000 season as the starting quarterback, but was replaced by Trent Dilfer mid-season. Dilfer provided a steady hand at quarterback. The 1,364-yard rushing season by rookie running back Jamal Lewis combined with the stout Ravens defense to keep Baltimore competitive in games even when the offense struggled. At one point in the season the team played five consecutive games without scoring an offensive touchdown but still managed 2 wins during that stretch. The team regrouped and won each of their last seven games, finishing 12–4. The Ravens had made the playoffs for the first time.

Since the divisional rival Tennessee Titans had a record of 13–3, Baltimore had to play in the wild card round. They dominated the Denver Broncos 21–3 in their first game. In the divisional playoff, they went on the road to Tennessee. Tied 10–10 in the fourth quarter, an Al Del Greco field goal attempt was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Anthony Mitchell, and a Ray Lewis interception return for a score put the game squarely in Baltimore’s favor. The 24–10 win put the Ravens in the AFC Championship against the Oakland Raiders. The game was barely in doubt. Shannon Sharpe’s 96-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter, followed by an injury to Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, was crucial as the Ravens won easily, 16–3.

Baltimore then went to Tampa for Super Bowl XXXV against the New York Giants, cruising to a 34–7 win for their first championship in franchise history. The Ravens recorded four sacks and forced five turnovers, one of which was a Kerry Collins interception returned for a touchdown by Duane Starks. The Giants’ only score was a Ron Dixon kickoff return for another touchdown (after Starks’ interception return); however, Baltimore immediately countered with a TD return by Jermaine Lewis. The Ravens became only the third wild card team to win a Super Bowl championship. The interception return for a touchdown, followed by two kick return TDs, marked the quickest time in Super Bowl history that three touchdowns had been scored.

The title made the Ravens the fourth Baltimore-based pro football team to win a league championship. They were preceded by the NFL Colts in 1958, 1959 and 1970, the USFL Stars in 1985, and the CFL Stallions in 1995.


In 2001, the Ravens attempted to defend its title with Elvis Grbac as its new starting quarterback, but an injury to Jamal Lewis on the first day of training camp and poor offensive performances stymied the team. After a 3–3 start, the Ravens defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the final week to clinch a wild card berth at 10–6. In the first round the Ravens showed flashes of their previous year with a 20–3 blowout over the Miami Dolphins, in which the team forced three turnovers and outgained the Dolphins 347 yards to 151. In the divisional playoff the Ravens played the Pittsburgh Steelers. Three interceptions by Grbac ended the Ravens’ season, as they lost 27–10. Baltimore ran into salary cap problems entering the 2002 season and was forced to part with a number of impact players. The Ravens stayed somewhat competitive, until a losing streak in December eliminated any chances of a post-season berth.


After the 2003 season, Art Modell officially transferred his remaining 51% ownership to Bisciotti, ending over 40 years of tenure as an NFL franchise owner. Modell still has an office at the Ravens’ headquarters in Owings Mills, Maryland, and acts as a consultant.

The Ravens named Boller their starting QB just prior to the start of the 2003 season, but he was injured midway through the season and was replaced by Anthony Wright. Jamal Lewis ran for 2,066 yards (including 295 yards in one game against the Cleveland Browns on September 14). The Ravens held a 5–5 record until, in a home game against the Seattle Seahawks, wiped out a 41–24 gap in the final seven minutes of regulation, then won on a Matt Stover field goal in overtime for a 44–41 triumph. From there the Ravens won five of their last six games. With a 10–6 record, Baltimore won their first AFC North division title. Their first playoff game, at home against the Tennessee Titans, went back and forth, with the Ravens being held to only 54 yards total rushing. The Titans won 20-17 on a late field goal, and Baltimore’s season ended early. Ray Lewis was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in his career.

The Ravens did not make the playoffs in 2004 and finished the season with a record of 9-7 with Kyle Boller finishing the season at QB.

In the 2005 offseason the Ravens looked to augment their receiving corps (which was second-worst in the NFL in 2004) by signing Derrick Mason from the Titans and drafting star Oklahoma wide receiver Mark Clayton in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. However, the Ravens ended their season 6-10.

2006 season

The 2006 Baltimore Ravens season began with the team trying to improve on their 6–10 record of 2005. The Ravens, for the first time in franchise history, started 4–0, under the leadership of former Titans quarterback Steve McNair.

The Ravens lost 2 straight games mid-season on offensive troubles, prompting coach Brian Billick to drop their offensive coordinator Jim Fassel in their week 7 bye. After the bye, and with Billick calling the offense, Baltimore would record a five-game win streak before losing to the Bengals in week 13.

Still ranked second overall to first-place San Diego, The Ravens continued on. They defeated the Chiefs, and held the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers to only one touchdown at Heinz Field, allowing the Ravens to clinch the AFC North.

TheThe Ravens ended the regular season with a franchise-best 13–3 record. Baltimore had secured the AFC North title, the #2 AFC playoff seed, and clinched a 1st-round bye by season’s end. The Ravens were slated to face the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the playoffs, in the first meeting of the two teams in the playoffs. Many Baltimore and Indianapolis fans saw this historic meeting as a sort of “Judgment Day” with the new team of Baltimore facing the old team of Baltimore (the former Baltimore Colts having left Baltimore under questionable circumstances in 1984). In one of the most bizarre playoff games in NFL history, both Indianapolis and Baltimore were held to scoring only field goals as the two defenses slugged it out all over M&T Bank Stadium. McNair threw two costly interceptions, including one at the 1-yard line. The eventual Super-Bowl-Champion Colts won 15-6, ending Baltimore’s season.

2007 season

After a stellar 2006 season, the Ravens hoped to improve upon its 13-3 record but injuries and poor play plagued the team which finished the 2007 season in the AFC North cellar with a disappointing 5-11 record. A humiliating 22-16 overtime loss to the previously winless Dolphins on December 16 led to Brian Billick’s dismissal on New Year’s Eve, one day after the end of the regular season.

2008 season

With rookies at head coach (John Harbaugh) and quarterback (Joe Flacco), the Ravens entered the 2008 campaign with lots of uncertainty. After a season-opening home victory over the Bengals, their Week 2 match at the Houston Texans was postponed until two months later because of Hurricane Ike, forcing the Ravens to play for what would eventually be eighteen straight weeks. Its record would drop to 2-3 after three straight losses – in overtime at Pittsburgh, a home heartbreaker versus Tennessee and a blowout in Indianapolis. A win at Miami, redemption for what happened late in the previous season, sparked a four-game winning streak. After a road loss to the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants in Week 11, the Ravens beat Philadelphia at home, powered by Ed Reed breaking his own NFL record for longest interception for a touchdown when he returned one 108 yards against Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb. The previous record was 106 yards in 2004. In Week 16, the Ravens bounced back from a frustrating home loss to the Steelers that was decided by a highly controversial call from officials by humbling the Dallas Cowboys 33-24 in the final game at Texas Stadium behind Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee combining for 249 rushing yards and two touchdowns. McGahee broke a 77-yard run for a touchdown, a stadium record which would last until McClain, on the very first offensive play of the Ravens’ next possession, secured the victory with an 82-yard touchdown run of his own. Baltimore closed out the regular season at home by defeating the Jaguars to clinch the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs.

On the strength of two more Ed Reed interceptions, one resulting in a touchdown, the Ravens began its postseason run by winning a rematch over Miami 27-9 at Dolphin Stadium on January 4, 2009 in a wildcard game. Six days later, they advanced to the AFC Championship Game by avenging a Week 5 loss to the Titans 13-10 at LP Field on a Matt Stover field goal within the last two minutes of regulation. Even though they trailed by only two points with about four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Ravens fell one victory short of Super Bowl XLIII by losing to the Steelers 23-14 at Heinz Field on January 18, 2009.

2009 season

The Ravens held the 26th pick in the 2009 NFL draft. The Ravens selected Michael Oher in the first round of the NFL Draft. During the training camp the Ravens organization came with the slogan “Play like a Raven”. Early this year Derrick Mason said he retired but later came back. They look to make it past the AFC title this year.

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