- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2001


TAMPA, Fla. The maxim that defense wins championships came true for Baltimore last night in Super Bowl XXXV as the Ravens throttled the New York Giants 34-7 at Raymond James Stadium.

The championship, the first for the 5-year-old franchise, was the first for 75-year-old Ravens owner Art Modell since his Cleveland Browns dispatched the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship game. Baltimore has its first major sports champion since the 1983 Orioles and its first NFL title since the Colts beat Dallas 16-13 in Super Bowl V.

The Ravens did it the hard way, winning playoff games at Tennessee and Oakland and becoming just the fourth wild-card team to win the Super Bowl, following Kansas City (1969), Oakland (1980) and Denver (1997). Baltimore also went 21 quarters in October without scoring a touchdown but still wound up with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

"They stuck together and pulled together," Modell said. "There's a lot of chemistry in this organization, a lot of love for each other. Lombardi told me that years ago in order to win, you have to love each other."

Super Bowl MVP and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Ray Lewis captained a ferocious Baltimore defense that surrendered just 23 points in four playoff games after allowing a league-record low 165 points during the 16-game schedule. New York's only points last night came on a 97-yard kickoff return by Ron Dixon. The Ravens held the Giants to 152 yards, forced five turnovers and sacked Kerry Collins five times.

"Until you've faced that defense, it's hard to gauge what you can do [against it]," said Baltimore coach Brian Billick, a champion in just his second year.

"This defense has been doing this all year," said Lewis, who had five tackles and four passes defensed last night. "We didn't do anything different. We just did what we do. It's a totally different game [for the opposing offense] when you've got a buzz saw coming at you from so many directions."

Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa said his unit, which hasn't allowed a runner to gain 100 yards in its past 37 games, frustrates offenses by making them one-dimensional. The Giants (14-5) ran for just 66 yards on 16 carries.

Both Collins, who threw five touchdowns in the NFC Championship game, and Giants coach Jim Fassel said they never faced a better defense.

"They're very quick and physical, and that's why they cause turnovers," Fassel said.

"They completely took me out of my rhythm," said Collins, who completed 15 of 39 passes for 112 yards and threw four interceptions. "I [stunk]. This is the most disappointing loss I've ever been involved with."

Asked if the Ravens have the best defense ever, Billick said, "Someone tell me they're not. I'll argue it to the death."

The latter word was unfortunate; it was a hot topic all week for Lewis, who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges in the wake of two murders outside a postgame party he attended following Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta.

"The man upstairs wouldn't take you through hell without bringing you to triumph," Lewis said. "If you put this in a storybook, no one would believe it."

The same is true of Baltimore quarterback Trent Dilfer, who was cut by Tampa Bay last February after six years as its starter but won the Super Bowl last night in his former home stadium.

"I've never felt anything this good," said Dilfer, 11-1 since replacing Tony Banks as Baltimore's starter in October.

The Ravens were 16-0 when scoring at least seven points. They tied a Super Bowl record with the four interceptions. Safety Kim Herring, who played with Collins at Penn State, intercepted a pass. Cornerback Chris McAlister picked one off right outside the end zone late in the first half with Baltimore leading just 10-0. Linebacker Jamie Sharper added another interception off a tip by Lewis and cornerback Duane Starks returned the fourth pickoff 49 yards for a touchdown to make it 17-0 with 3:49 left in the third quarter.

"I played soft and I played soft, and I took my chance when I knew I had a great shot … and it's going to cost them," Starks said.

Dixon got the Giants on the scoreboard 18 seconds later, but former University of Maryland star Jermaine Lewis returned the favor with an 84-yard kickoff return touchdown. Corey Harris got away with a block in the back on Emmanuel McDaniel as Lewis broke away to extend the lead to 24-7. The three touchdowns in 36 seconds and the two kickoff return touchdowns were both Super Bowl records.

"You could see the emotional swing on their side [after Dixon's touchdown], but when Jermaine took it back the other way, it was more dramatic," Billick said. "[That] had to be devastating."

Said Dixon: "I thought [my touchdown] was going to be a big emotional lift, but [Jermaine Lewis] took it all the way back, and things kind of went downhill from there."

Rookie halfback Jamal Lewis' 3-yard run with 8:45 left and Matt Stover's 34-yard field goal 3:17 later rounded out the scoring. Lewis finished with 102 yards on 27 carries.

The Ravens (16-4) jumped ahead 7-0 at 6:50 of the first quarter on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Dilfer to reserve wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who beat Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn.

"We found a matchup we liked," Dilfer said. "I looked the safety onto [tight end] Shannon Sharpe, and Stokley beat his guy."

Fassel blamed the lack of safety help, but Sehorn simply said, "I got beat."

A potential tying touchdown, a 43-yard interception return by Giants Pro Bowl linebacker Jessie Armstead with 10:36 remaining in the half, was nullified by a defensive holding penalty on tackle Keith Hamilton.

"That was huge," Fassel said.

Baltimore extended its lead to 10-0 on Stover's 47-yard field goal with 1:41 to go in the half.

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