January 28, 2001: Ray Lewis and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens cemented their legacies on defense with a dismantling of the New York Giants, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa.
The Ravens had an all-time defense during the season. Baltimore gave up only 970 rushing yards (60.6 per game) all year, an NFL record for a 16-game season, as well giving up an NFL record with the fewest points allowed (165). The defense held 11 opponents to 10 or fewer points and had four shutouts. The defense of course was led by NFL Defensive Player of the Year Lewis, who had 138 tackles. But he had help at linebacker with a talented duo of Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sam Adams and veteran Tony Siragusa anchored the line, along with defensive ends Rob Burnett and Pro Bowler Michael McCrary. The secondary might have been even better, with Pro Bowl safety Rod Woodson, who along with Kim Herring, Duane Starks, and Chris McAlister combined for 17 interceptions. The team as a whole recovered an incredible 26 fumbles during the season.
Despite the defense, Baltimore (12-4) had to go the route of a wild card to win the Super Bowl. The Ravens blitzed through the Denver Broncos, No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans, and No. 2 Oakland Raiders by giving up a total of 16 points in the three games.
Super Bowl XXXV was no different, as Baltimore's defense dissected the Giants (12-4). Baltimore allowed only 152 yards (the third-lowest total ever in a Super Bowl), recorded 4 sacks, and forced 5 turnovers. All 16 of the Giants' possessions ended with punts or interceptions, except for the last one, which ended when time expired in the fourth quarter. The Giants could only score on a 97-yard kickoff return in the third quarter, which ironically was answered right back with an 84-yard kickoff TD by Baltimore. The Ravens were so dominant that the Giants never stood a chance. QB Kerry Collins had 4 interceptions and only 112 yards passing, while Tiki Barber managed only 26 yards rushing.
The highlight of the game may have been Ray Lewis' entrance.
Ray Lewis became just the second linebacker to ever win Super Bowl MVP (Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley in Super Bowl V). Even though he only recorded 3 solo tackles, Lewis was all over the field and terrorized the Giants' offense. He also batted down 4 passes.
Ravens running back Jamal Lewis had rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown for Baltimore, becoming just the second rookie to crack 100 yards rushing in the big game.
Here's to you 2000 Ravens and your dominant Super Bowl win.