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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
There was some lamenting about the Ravens' offense the first two weeks after Baltimore scored just 10 points apiece in its first two games. QB Joe Flacco got off to a shaky start, throwing four interceptions in a loss at Cincinnati in Week Two before bouncing back with 262 yards and three TDs in a win over the Browns in Week Three.
However, any problems the Ravens' offense may encounter this season probably won't compare to what Baltimore endured 10 years ago. The Ravens went five games — the entire month of October — without a touchdown.
That they eventually won Super Bowl XXXV speaks to the quality of their defense, led by LB Ray Lewis, game MVP and defensive MVP for 2000. Once the calendar hit November, scoring was less of a problem for the Ravens, who averaged 26.2 points as they won their final 11 games, including a 34-7 rout of the Giants in the Super Bowl.
But for a five-game stretch starting on Oct. 1, 2000, the touchdowns stopped for Baltimore. With the 10-year anniversary of that treacherous five-game streak upon us, let's take a closer look at how the Ravens fared:
Ravens 12, Browns 0
The Ravens made four Matt Stover field goals hold up in victory at Cleveland, lifting their record to 4-1. In the "good omen" department, we have the Ravens becoming the first team since the ... drum roll ... 1985 Bears to record shutouts in back-to-back games. (A week earlier, the Ravens clobbered visiting Cincinnati 37-0.) In the "trouble ahead" department, we have the Ravens having a two-yard TD run from rookie RB Jamal Lewis taken off the board by penalty.
Ravens 15, Jaguars 10
Oh, to have had Stover on your fantasy football team this week in 2000. And oh, to have benched all of your other Ravens, save the Baltimore defense. Stover knocked home five more field goals, and the defense forced six turnovers at Jacksonville. Safeties Kim Herring and Rod Woodson each had interceptions, and CB Chris McAlister's late pick helped secure the victory. The Jaguars, who had one promising drive end when Ray Lewis recovered a fumble at the Baltimore seven, didn't score a touchdown until 4:04 was left in the game. The Ravens (5-1) got little going in the passing game, with QB Tony Banks completing just 17-of-39 passes for 154 yards. Banks, the late Joel Buchsbaum wrote in these pages, "played about as bad as a starting quarterback can play and win."
Redskins 10, Ravens 3
With the game tied at three late in the first half, the visiting Ravens (5-2) had the ball at the Washington one-yard line and looked poised to break their TD-less streak. But disaster struck. Banks, looking for TE Shannon Sharpe, was intercepted in the endzone. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Redskins RB Stephen Davis scored the decisive touchdown on a 33-yard run. In defeat, Ray Lewis recorded 20 tackles, 13 solo, according to Baltimore team statistics.
Titans 14, Ravens 6
Titans fans and football trivia champions surely remember that Tennessee, not Baltimore, allowed the fewest yards in the NFL in 2000. Well, the Titans didn't win that distinction by playing like they did at Baltimore. Yards weren't the problem for the Ravens, who outgained the Titans 368-191 and held Tennessee to just seven first downs. The problem, of course, was crossing the opponent's goal line with football in tow. Banks threw three interceptions, including one on the Ravens' first play of the second half, which was returned for a touchdown. Those were the final points of the game for both teams. Banks was benched in favor of Trent Dilfer, who had the potential go-ahead TD pass with 1:28 left overturned by instant replay.
Steelers 9, Ravens 6
Dilfer got the call in place of Banks, and on Baltimore's first drive of the game, he led the Ravens inside the Steelers' 10-yard line. Perhaps this would be the breakthrough for the Ravens' offense — or perhaps not. Dilfer fumbled a snap from center, and the Steelers recovered. The Ravens would not advance inside Pittsburgh's red zone again. The Ravens allowed just one touchdown, and they even got a break when Kris Brown missed the extra point. But once again, they simply couldn't score enough, even after allowing just 231 yards and recording five sacks. At 5-4, and having scored no touchdown in six of their nine games, they hardly looked like a Super Bowl team.
Sources: PFW archives, Ravens 2001 Fan and Media Guide.