Column: Quoth the Ravens, it’s Baltimore

And you can book this one to the Birds. The Baltimore Ravens proved that defense truly does win championships. Despite coming close to disaster a couple times, the special teams and offense played good enough to allow the defense to just do its thing. And that’s all they needed to do. Kerry Collins succumbed to the defense, and that led to four interceptions. One was for a touchdown, one prevented a New York field goal opportunity at the end of the first half and two more gave Baltimore solid field position.

It was the little things that went the Ravens way. Ahead 7-0, Trent Dilfer threw an unbelievably ill-advised pass that was intercepted for a touchdown. The score would have been tied. The Giants would have carried the momentum. But there was that seemingly minor defensive holding call on New York. The penalty changed everything. The touchdown was called back. New York, which entered the game without trailing in the postseason, failed to tie the game when it was given its best chance.

There was Ron Dixon’s kickoff return for a touchdown following Duane Starks’ pick. Right when Baltimore seemed to put the game away, New York appeared to suddenly come back to life. That’s what one play can do. But it’s also what one more play can do. Jermaine Lewis’ subsequent touchdown return was the dagger. With no offense and no more momentum, there was nothing else the Giants could do.

Once again, defense wins championships. One can’t stress that enough. The Ravens went 16-0 this season when scoring at least seven points. That’s absolutely unheard of. They had four shutouts this season. The last time that happened was when the Chicago Bears did it in 1985. They went on to win the Super Bowl. The fact of the matter is that Baltimore’s defense is simply one of the greatest of all time. Denver, Tennessee, Oakland and New York. Three points, ten points, three points, seven points. That’s how many Baltimore gave up to their postseason opponents. Simply the best in football.

But you’ve got to give the New York Giants a lot of credit. No one even thought this team would go to the playoffs. You wonder what would have happened had Giants coach Jim Fassel predicted that his team would win the Super Bowl. He predicted everything else to perfection. But Fassel was smart enough to know in the two weeks leading up to the game that mere words could not stop Ray Lewis, Jermaine Lewis or defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. The Giants did win a Super Bowl of their own against a team in purple. It just happened to come two weeks too soon.

It’s hard to believe that the Baltimore Ravens are the Super Bowl champions. They’re cursing in Cleveland, I’ll tell you that. The city of Baltimore is alive and kicking. And there must be no greater joy in Baltimore than to know it came at the expense of New York City. The Ravens ended the New York Jets season in week 17 and destroyed the Giants when it was for all the marbles. Baltimore last won a championship when the Orioles won the World Series in 1983. Months later Bob Irsay stole football hearts in Baltimore when he shipped the Colts to Indianapolis. From that dreary day in 1984, Baltimore’s search for glory always came up short. But, that was until last night.

The Super Bowl victors by a 34-7 score

Quoth the Ravens, it’s Baltimore. ,

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