Baltimore Ravens, professional football team and
one of six teams in the Central Division of the American
Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). Under the league’s realignment
plan, which will take affect in 2002, the Ravens will
play in the North Division of the AFC. The Ravens
play at PSINet Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, and
wear uniforms of black, purple, and gold. The team
is named after a poem entitled “The Raven”
(1845) by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, who lived
in Baltimore during the 1830s.
Baltimore was home to the Baltimore Colts (now Indianapolis
Colts) from 1953 through 1983. The Ravens’ franchise
was founded after the 1995 NFL season, when Arthur
B. Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns, moved his
team from Cleveland, Ohio, to Baltimore and renamed
it the Ravens. (In 1999 a new Browns franchise began
play in Cleveland.) Modell brought to Baltimore a
roster of veteran stars, including quarterback Vinny
Testaverde and running back Earnest Byner. He also
hired former Baltimore Colts head coach Ted Marchibroda
to lead the new Baltimore team. Marchibroda had produced
three consecutive Eastern Division titles for the
Colts in the mid-1970s, but coaching the Ravens proved
difficult. Despite fielding a potent offense, the
franchise struggled defensively and finished at the
bottom of the Central Division in 1996 and 1997. Testaverde
left following the 1997 season and signed as a free
agent with the New York Jets. The Ravens wasted no
time earning their first victory in franchise history.
In their inaugural regular season game, the Ravens
defeated the Oakland Raiders, 19-14, on September
1, 1996. A Memorial Stadium record crowd of 64,124
witnessed the historic moment.
Under the direction of Ozzie Newsome, General Manager
& Executive Vice President of Player Personnel,
the team built a solid foundation on offense and defense
through free agency and the draft.
Then in 1999, the team hired long-time NFL assistant
coach Brian Billick to handle the coaching reins.
In just his second season, Billick, helped by a defense
that allowed the fewest amount of points during a
season in NFL history, guided the Ravens to a thrilling
34-7 victory in Super Bowl XXXV.
Through shrewd draft picks and free agent signings,
the Ravens rebuilt their team around a standout defense.
The team was led by linebacker Ray Lewis, who became
one of the leading tacklers and top defenders in the
NFL. The Ravens’ defense gave up a record-low
165 points during the 2000 season, then allowed just
23 points in the postseason, including a 34-7 victory
over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
2001 Super Bowl XXXV Defeated New York Giants, 34-7
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