A look back on the Ravens' championship season
They lived up to the hype in their first game, a prime time matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, as Joe Flacco led his team to a dominating 44-13 victory. The defense appeared to have remained strong despite an aging core, and the offense looked just about as good as any offense in the history of the franchise.
Despite a tough one-point loss to the Eagles in Week 2, the Ravens made their way to a 4-1 record, the highlight being a 31-30 win over the New England Patriots. In Week 6, the Ravens held off a struggling, yet talented Cowboys team in a nail-biter that came down to a missed field goal by Cowboys' kicker Dan Bailey. Despite the big win, the Ravens also suffered tremendous losses against the Cowboys - cornerback Lardarius Webb tore his ACL, and more importantly, middle linebacker Ray Lewis tore his triceps. The loss of Webb meant the loss of the Ravens' top cover cornerback, forcing several inexperienced corners to step into bigger roles, while the loss of Lewis meant the loss of one of the greatest leaders in the history of sports.
Webb was placed on the injured reserve, while Lewis was placed on the injured reserve and given the "designated to return" tag, in hopes he may be able to join the team at some point during the playoffs.
A week after losing Lewis and Webb, the Ravens were slaughtered by the Texans by a score of 43-13. Everything was looking bad for the Ravens defense without two of their best players, despite the fact that reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs, who was recovering from an achilles injury, made his season debut.
The Ravens then entered a much needed bye week with their banged up team, but were fortunate to be looking down a month-long stretch of poor opposing offenses. The Ravens' defense held strong through four straight games against the Browns, Raiders, Steelers (with a banged up Byron Leftwich starting at quarterback), and Chargers. With those four wins, the Ravens were sitting pretty at 9-2, the second best record in the AFC.
Just two weeks after notching a fourth straight victory, the Ravens did something that Super Bowl contenders almost never do - they fired their offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron. Cameron was often criticized for the lack of touches that running back Ray Rice received, and was cut loose after a 31-28 loss to the Redskins. He eventually stated, however, that his firing was exactly what the Ravens needed.
Stronger competition then caught up with the Ravens. They fell victim to Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning among others to finish the season losing four of their last five games, giving them the worst record among the NFL playoff teams (10-6). Many experts and analysts didn't consider them realistic contenders for the Lombardi Trophy after their poor end to the season.