Oct 26, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens helmet on the sidelines against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals defeated the Ravens 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
10. 1996 NFL Draft
The inaugural season for the Baltimore Ravens franchise was a monumental one. It started with the 1996 NFL Draft, in which the Ravens drafted one of the best classes of all-time. The draft class featured a Pro Football Hall of Famer, as well as a future Hall of Famer.
With the fourth overall pick, the Ravens selected left tackle Jonathan Ogden out of UCLA. Ogden was a monster of a man and made a living punishing opposing defenders. He was a model of consistency, leading to his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
With the 26th overall pick, Baltimore selected middle linebacker Ray Lewis from the University of Miami. Many people questioned this pick at first, given Lewis’ size. However, as Ravens fans have learned over the years, you just have to trust Ozzie Newsome. Lewis played 16 hard-fought seasons in Charm City and became the face of the Ravens franchise. He went on to become arguably the best linebacker in NFL history and will surely be wearing a gold jacket one day.
Later in the fifth round, the Ravens found wide receiver Jermaine Lewis, who never really was much of a receiver, but made his mark as a return specialist. Lewis performed well in a number of big situations, resulting in two Pro Bowl selections for his career.
What a start this was a for a brand new franchise. Every class has its hits and misses, but in ’96 the Ravens hit the lottery.
9. Ravens Close out Texas Stadium
The Dallas Cowboys are “America’s Team,” so any time you get to show them up on a national stage, it’s a great feeling. The Cowboys handpicked the Ravens for the final game in Texas Stadium, which took place on Dec. 20, 2008.
I’m sure Jerry Jones and Co. expected this to be a walk in the park, but they had another think coming. The Ravens held a 9-5 record coming into the game and were right in the middle of the playoff hunt. The Cowboys, led by Tony Romo and Terrell Owens, were also in the hunt in the NFC.
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The Ravens were led by the league’s second-best defense and the fourth-ranked running game. These have been the two strengths of this team for as long as I can remember. Both were on display on this night. Ed Reed picked off two Tony Romo passes, putting the offense in great position to score on multiple occasions.
The stamp on this game was two back to back long runs of 77 and 82 yards by Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain respectively. While it doesn’t seem like this game meant much, it was the last game to ever be played in the historic Texas Stadium.
8. Chris McAlister‘s Record-Breaking FG return
Although the Ravens finished the 2002 season with a sub-.500 record, cornerback Chris McAlister provided the Baltimore faithful with a moment that will never be forgotten.
The Ravens had a comfortable 24-3 lead over the Denver Broncos in the waning seconds of the first half. Broncos kicker Jason Elam lined up for a 57-yard field goal attempt. The kick is wide left. McAlister was in the back of the endzone to field the ball in case of this particular situation. He trots for the first few steps, but then Ray Lewis unleashed a crushing block on an unsuspecting Broncos player, springing McAlister into open field.
He headed towards the sidelines and turned on the jets, ultimately high-stepping his way to pay dirt. The 108-yard return was recorded as the longest play in NFL history.
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