2000-01 Season Recap
The Ravens' Tale
Parity rules in the NFL. Never was this more evident than in Super Bowl XXXV when the Baltimore Ravens took on the New York Giants. By all means, those two teams were superb in 2000 and certainly deserved their spots in football's big show. But let's face it - the year before their Super Bowl run, the two teams combined for just a 15-17 regular season mark.
By week nine of the 2000 regular season, the Ravens' record was a very mediocre 5-4. They were in the midst of a five game (21 consecutive quarter) touchdown-less streak, causing the benching of quarterback Tony Banks in favor of veteran Trent Dilfer, the much-maligned former quarterback for Tampa Bay. It proved to be exactly the right medicine.
The Ravens finished out the regular season with seven consecutive wins behind what many believe was the best defense in the history of the NFL. Led by linebacker Ray Lewis, they allowed a total of just 165 points, the least ever given up over a 16-game schedule. Lewis had a stellar season, despite swirling controversy over his role in an Atlanta brawl following the 2000 Super Bowl that left two men dead.
The Giants were also unexpected Super Bowl guests. After a lackluster loss to Detroit in week 12 that left his team at 7-4, head coach Jim Fassel "guaranteed" that his team would reach the playoffs. He was right. Behind rejuvenated and rehabbed quarterback Kerry Collins, the Giants won the NFC East with a 12-4 record, took care of the Eagles (20-10) in the Conference semis and then pummeled the favored Minnesota Vikings, 41-0, in the NFC Championship.
In the Super Bowl, however, the Ravens' high-powered defense was just too much for the Giants to handle. Lewis and Co. picked off Collins four times and kept the Giants off the scoreboard, their only points in the contest coming courtesy of a Ron Dixon 97-yard kickoff return. Dilfer did what he had to do, while the Ravens' special teams unit and rookie running back Jamal Lewis did the rest. The final result was a 34-7 trouncing. For leading the defense, Lewis was named MVP.
Elsewhere, 2000 was a record-breaking year for the NFL. Vikings place kicker Gary Anderson became the NFL's all-time leading scorer when he recorded his 2,003rd point, surpassing hall-of-famer George Blanda's long-standing record. St. Louis Rams star running back Marshall Faulk broke Emmitt Smith's touchdown mark for a season, crossing the goal line 26 times.
There were three notable single-game records snapped in 2000 as well. On Oct. 22, Bengals back Corey Dillon torched the Denver Broncos for 278 rushing yards to break Walter Payton's 23-year-old mark of 275. In the Superdome on Dec. 3, Denver running back Mike Anderson, subbing for the injured Terrell Davis, tore through the Saints for a rookie record 251 rushing yards. And finally, on Dec. 17, San Francisco's Terrell Owens hauled in 20 receptions against the Chicago Bears, breaking Tom Fears' mark (18) that had stood for fifty years.