Super Bowl XXXV Remembered
The NFL post-season is in full swing and before we know it Super Bowl LV will be upon us. Reflecting what we did last year, in the run up to this years’ championship I thought it might be fun to do a series on the decade anniversaries of the big game.
This is the third in the series, following our look back to Super Bowl V , Super Bowl XV, & Super Bowl XXV. Now we are travelling back 20 years to the culmination of the 2000 season and January the 28th 2001. For the NFL this matchup was a championship game with 71,921 fans on hand at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.
The Run up to the Game
The Baltimore Ravens had only been in town since the 1996 season. A move from Cleveland had seen them leave all of their history and records as the Cleveland Browns to the city of Cleveland.
So the Ravens were an expansion team without being truly new. As they were taking an exisiting team into their new city.
The first three years in Baltimore however were hardly inspiring. From 1996 to 1998 they managed a 16-31-1 run and no playoff appearances.
In 1999 new Head Coach Brian Billick had arrived and improved the team to 8-8. Now in his second season at the helm, the team had gone 12-4 and made it to the Super Bowl.
After winning Super Bowl XXV Bill Parcells had stepped away from coaching the Giants. And over the next two seasons they went 14-18 with Ray Handley at the helm.
Dan Reeves replaced him and won Coach of the Year in 1993 thanks to an 11-5 season. But his time in charge only led to a 31-33 run over 4 years.
Jim Fassel had arrived as Head Coach in 1997 and guided the Giants through a 10-5-1 season. A 15-17 run over the next two seasons didn’t inspire the fan base much. But, after a 12-4 season in 2000, Fassel had the Giants back in the Super Bowl a decade after their last win at the show.
Ravens Road to the game
Baltimore at 12-4 had finished second in their Division behind the 13-3 Tennessee Titans. Which meant they started out in the Wild Card round at home to Denver.
The game was scoreless after one but Baltimore sandwiched a Denver Field Goal between two TD’s for a 14-3 halftime lead. The Ravens would add another in the third and allow the Broncos no further points taking a 21-3 win.
In the Divisional Round they faced their Division rival Titans. For the first, and only time in these playoffs they fell behind when Eddie George ran in a first quarter score. It was 7-7 by halftime and tied at 10 afer three.
Then the Ravens pulled away in the fourth. A 90-yard blocked field goal return and 50-yard interception return led to a 24-10 win.
In the AFC Championship Game the first quarter was scoreless. Then Trent Dilfer hit Shannon Sharpe on a 96 yard TD pass in the second quarter and that was already enough to win. Yet again the Ravens held a playoff team to 3 points (this time the 12-4 Oakland Raiders) as they went on to win 16-3.
The Ravens D was looking formidable as the team allowed a total of 16 points in 3 playoff games to reach Super Bowl XXXV.
The Giants Playoff Run
Finishing first in the NFC East the Giants went into the NFC Playoffs as the number one seed. Which meant they got to spend Wild Card weekend at home.
Like the Ravens, the Giants faced a Divisional foe in the Divisional Round. Welcoming the Philadelphia Eagles to town. New York had beaten Philadelphia twice in the regular season. But, the Eagles had finished the season strongly going 6–1.
Rookie WR Ron Dixon returned the opening kickoff for a 97 Yard Giants touchdown to settle any nerves. A pick six when Jason Sehorn intercepted a McNabb pass made it 17-3 at the half. The Giants held on to win 20-10.
For the NFC title match the Giants lined up against the 11-5 Minnesota Vikings. Nobody predicited what would follow.
The Giants staff had seen a weakness in the Vikings’ secondary and exploited it. Kerry Collins went 28 of 39 for 381 yards and 5 touchdowns, with 2 picks.
The pass heavy attack saw the Giants outgain the Vikings by 380 yards to 60 in net passing for the game. They were 14-0 up after one and 34-0 up at halftime. The eventual score was 41-0 in their favour.
The Game Itself: Super Bowl XXXV
Going into Super Bowl XXXV it was clear the Baltimore Ravens were a team built to win on Defence.
They had allowed the fewest points in the League, 165. A number that broke a record set by the 1986 Chicago Bears. The Ravens D had also become the only team to hold the opposition to under 1,000 yards rushing in a season since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978. Not to mention they had held their opponents to 10 or fewer points in 11 games, including four shutouts.
As long as the Trent Dilfer led Offence didn’t make any key errors most observers felt the Baltimore D would lead the team to victory. And so it proved.
The first quarter was dominated by defensive play as the first 5 possessions ended in punts. Baltimore finally got things going when Dilfer hit WR Brandon Stokeley for a 38-yard touchdown pass. It was 7-0 after one.
The Giants rue a penalty
With the Giants Offence gaining no traction, it looked like their D had got them back into the game in the second quarter. LB Jessie Armstead appeared to have evened things up with a pick six. He ran the ball back 43 yards for an apparent TD.
But, there was a flag on the play. Holding against the Giants. It was a deflating moment and took away some momentum. Dilfer hit WR Qadry Ismail for 44 yards and set up a Field Goal to put the Ravens up 10-0.
New York did get to the Ravens 29 yard line, but QB Kerry Collins was picked off and the score remained 10-0 at the half.
In the second half Kerry Collins was picked off again but the Ravens missed on a 41 yard FG attempt. The Defences stayed on top as more punting was forced by each team before the game momentarily exploded into life.
An Exlposion of Scoring
Out of the defensive struggle came an improbable turn of events. Three 40 plus yard touchdowns were scored in just record time.
Giants QB Kerry Collins was intercepted for the fourth and final time in the game. DB Duane Starks ran it back 49 yards for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead.
The Giants found a spark immediately. Ron Dixon took the ensuing kickoff back 97 yards to make it 17-7. Could this huge play be the momentum booster New York needed? Well, no, because incredibly Baltimore immediately responded with an 84 yard kick return touchdown from Jermaine Lewis to restore their 17 point lead at 24-7.
This was the first time in history two kickoffs were returned for touchdowns in the same Super Bowl game, and on back-to-back kickoffs. At the time you felt it was over. Any spark the Giants had found had been extinguished so rapidly that it had to affect them.
Baltimore seals the deal
The Giants had the ball four times in the final quarter but never made it into Ravens territory. Jamal Lewis ran in a 3 yard TD and Stover added another Field Goal for the final 34-7 result.
After his 5 TD outburst against the Vikings, the Ravens Defence held Kerry Collins to a 15 of 39, 112 yard, zero TD, 4 interception performance. It would go down as one of the great Super Bowl pass disasters.
Super Bowl XXXV set a record for fewest net yards, rushing and passing (396) and most punts in a game with 21.
Special mention to OJ Brigance in this game. The LB was a dominant special teams player who had four solo tackles in this one. And became one of the few to win both a Grey Cup and a Super Bowl ring.
The Ravens would not retain their title, going 10-6 the following year and falling in the Divisional round to Pittsburgh.
Baltimore would only make the playoffs in three of the next seven seasons. A 13-3 year in 2006 being the zenith. But that ended in disappointment with a one and done playoff ‘run’. They would finish 5-11 in 2007 and Billick would be replaced after a 72-56 run at the helm.
John Harbaugh took over as the Ravens third coach in 2008. Over his first five seasons the team went on an impressive 54-26 run. Making five consecutive playoff appearances culminating in winning Super Bowl XLVII.
Harbaugh is still leading the team, and after some average years they went 35-13 over the last three years making the playoffs on each occasion.
The Giants followed their Super Bowl apperance with a 7-9 year in 2001. Jim Fassel was replaced as Head Coach by Tom Coughlin in 2004.
Although he went 6-10 in his first year, Coughlin would coach the Giants for 12 years going 102-90 in the regular season. That regular season record was supplemented by an 8-3 Playoff record and wins in Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI.
The Giants have had 3 Head Coaches and 1 interim coach in the past 4 seasons as they have gone 18-46. You feel better days will return for one of the League’s most storied franchises however.
Banner Image from Bleacher Report