Many of football’s most memorable champions feature a marquee quarterback, along with perhaps an elite running back, plenty of points scored and a highlight reel of offensive fireworks.
However an old adage also says defenses win championships, and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens ranked as amongst the best of all time.
For that reason, it comes as little surprise that the Ravens become the third consecutive team to repeat their actual World Championship in simulation.
- Everything was nice and spread out between both conferences. The second place team in all six divisions earned playoff berths.
- The AFC East in particular was competitive with no easy touches. Peyton Manning made his first playoff appearance in his second year in the league.
- The Ravens and Tennessee Titans comprised possibly the NFL’s best two teams in the AFC Central. They would not get a chance to meet up in the playoffs however.
- The Cleveland Browns appear to be on the right track, with a competitive 6-10 record in their season season.
- The NFC provided no dominant teams, with the Giants, Buccaneers and Rams all posting 12-4 campaigns. A strong strength of victory resume vaulted Tampa to the number one seed and the possibility of playing Super Bowl XXXV in its own stadium.
The Colts return to the playoffs went out with a whimper, losing at home to the Dolphins in the wild card round. Kicker Mike Vanderjagt questioned Peyton Manning’s mindset on Canadian television two days later, Manning returned the favor and destroyed Vanderjagt in a sideline interview during the AFC’s 59-58 Pro Bowl victory.
Kerry Collins and the New York Giants did not make it to Tampa, the Giants lost at home to the 49ers on Wild Card Weekend while the Eagles dispatched the Minnesota Vikings and the Titans escaped with a 19-17 win over the Oakland Raiders.
The Ravens opened playoff competition with an 18-0 shutout over the Dolphins while the Titans lost on the road in Denver, 22-17. In the NFC, Tampa Bay defeated the 49ers 21-13 while the Eagles made a major statement with a 47-13 rout at St. Louis.
The Broncos traveled to Baltimore to play their old rival who they know as the Cleveland Browns in drag. In a brutal and bloody affair the Ravens punched their Super Bowl ticket with a 10-6 win. The Buccaneers hosted their franchises first-ever NFC Championship game appearance but lost to the Eagles 17-10, giving Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb a Super Bowl appearance prior to the first of their four real-life championship game appearances.
Days later the Eagles returned to Tampa with designs on the franchises third championship in as many Super Bowls. The Ravens would have none of it as they added their name to a recent list of Super Bowl routs. The game featured only one touchdown but kicker Matt Stover etched his name in the Super Bowl record books for eternity and beyond with seven field goals in the Ravens 28-3 win.
For the postseason, the Ravens defensive dominance became a performance for the ages by not allowing a single touchdown, just three field goals. WhatIfSports listed Tony Banks and not Trent Dilfer as the quarterback of record, proving just how far an elite defense can take a team.