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Following nearly 15 years of heartbreak after the Colts unceremoniously left Baltimore in the middle of the night, the city rejoiced in the opportunity to once again be a football town when the Baltimore Ravens were born in 1996. Today, 20 years after the Ravens became an NFL franchise, one key principle remains unchanged from the immediate identity that the team carved out for itself; punishing and unrelenting defense.
A solid front office started things off right in their inaugural NFL draft, picking up two players known throughout the sport. First overall pick Jonathan Ogden went on to become an 11-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer. Their other pick in the first round was Ray Lewis, the man who would go on to embody everything that being a Baltimore Raven means.
The impact on the field was felt immediately as the Ravens record improved over the course of their first four seasons, culminating in a convincing 34-7 Super Bowl victory in 2000 against the New York Giants. Ray Lewis was named the Super Bowl MVP.
Lewis would go on to another Super Bowl victory with the Ravens 13 years later with a completely different roster around him. The grizzled veteran served as an inspiration as he overcame an injury to play effectively with one good arm. Quarterback Joe Flacco was the MVP of this game that pitted Coach John Harbaugh against his brother Jim’s squad, the San Francisco 49ers. An epic game in New Orleans ended with a 34-31 victory for Baltimore and the franchise’s second Lombardi Trophy. More information about the history of the Baltimore Ravens can be found by clicking here.
Playing again at a .500 level, the Ravens are struggling to eclipse the elite status once again. Flacco is back to playing at 100%, expertly tossing to his top target, Mike Wallace. Jeremy Maclin has joined the squad to provide a solid veteran receiver and Benjamin Watson is a big tight end that is always a threat in the passing game. Terrance West in the backfield promises to make for a balanced attack.
The defense is anchored by Terrell Suggs, the veteran linebacker that opposing teams always have to game plan against. Teaming up with CJ Mosley, the Ravens second level is one that most running backs cannot penetrate and one that receivers fear. Eric Weddle leads the charge at safety, aided by cornerback Brandon Carr, a free agent pickup from the Dallas Cowboys. The Ravens hope to achieve a certain level of comfort in the backfield that hasn’t been the same since the departure of future Hall of Famer Ed Reed.
Expectations are high in Baltimore as the Ravens hope to recapture the AFC North title which was won by the rival Pittsburgh Steelers last season. However, another bitter rival in the Cincinnati Bengals always seek to spoil the fun. Some of the greatest players to ever wear a Ravens jersey include Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jonathan Ogden, Terrell Suggs, and Jamal Lewis.