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  • Ray Lewis does his patented “squirrel dance” as the rest of the team looks on before the AFC wild-card playoff game against the Colts at M&T Bank Stadium on January 6, 2013. —Photography by Patrick Smith

  • An aerial view of the Ravens celebrating their Super Bowl XLVII victory with tens of thousands of fans at M&T Bank Stadium. —Photography by Patrick McDermott

  • Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh cheer from the sideline after defeating the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game in 2013. —Courtesy of Baltimore Ravens

  • Memorial Stadium played host to the first Ravens game on September 1, 1996. —Photography by Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

  • Team mascots Rise and Conquer. —Photography by Doug Pensinger

  • Jacoby Jones catches a 70-yard TD pass against the Denver Broncos in 2013. —Courtesy of Baltimore Ravens

  • Ray Lewis takes a lap around the field on January 6, 2013, after the Ravens won 24-9 against the Indianapolis Colts in what would be Lewis's last game at M&T Bank Stadium before retirement. —Photography by Patrick Smith

  • Brian Billick and Tony Siragusa smile during the second half of Super Bowl XXXV, where the Ravens defeated the Giants 34-7. —Courtesy of Baltimore Ravens

  • Ed Reed walks back to the locker room. In his 10-year career with the Ravens, Reed was selected to nine Pro Bowls, named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and broke a league record for the two longest interception returns. —AFP/Getty Images

  • Quarterback Trent Dilfer cocks his arm back before a pass in Super Bowl XXXV. —Courtesy of Baltimore Ravens

  • Terrell Suggs kisses the Lombardi Trophy as he and his teammates celebrate during their Super Bowl XLVII victory parade on February 5, 2013. —Photography by Phil Hoffman/Baltimore Ravens

  • Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden playing against the Browns in December 2006. The Ravens won 27-17; Former owner Art Modell admires the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the Ravens Super Bowl victory parade in February 2001; Justin Tucker celebrates after a game-winning 61-yard field goal against the Detroit Lions in December 2013. —Photography by Jim Rogash, Patrick Smith

Rave Review

We celebrate 20 seasons of the Baltimore Ravens.

– Photography by Patrick Smith

VIEW THE
PHOTO ESSAY

Hard to believe that it has been nearly two decades since Art Modell rolled into town with a new football team for Baltimore. Through words and photos, we celebrate 20 seasons of monumental moments: logos transformed from horseshoes to bird heads, defensive players named Goose and T-Sizzle, the can’t-lose pair of John and Joe, two Super Bowl titles, and a legend named Ray. Who better to start us off than Ravens broadcaster Gerry Sandusky, as he waxes poetic about growing up around the Colts (his dad, John, was a coach) all the way up through the 2012 Super Bowl. Ca-caw, indeed!

“When my dad was with the Colts, I played pickup games with the other coaches’ sons at practice. I remember Bubba Smith’s locker, and Johnny Unitas teaching me how to throw a spiral. Blue and white were the most important colors in the universe.

[In 1988] I came back to Baltimore to work at Channel 11. There was no longer that magnet that draws people together the way football does around a single shared experience, only this conspicuous void—you knew what was missing, and you didn’t know if it was ever coming back.

I had a couple of really good contacts in Cleveland. One was involved in the Browns minority ownership. [Sportscaster] Mark Viviano and I were working together at the time. He got a call from somebody who had knowledge of the move. We started comparing notes. We knew this was going to blow up, so I took all the notes and put them in my bank safety deposit box. We were that concerned because we knew that when we broke the story, people weren’t going to believe us, and things could get ugly.

My dad played for the Browns in the ’50s, so I knew it was a great football town. I knew there would be a lot of mixed emotions here because Baltimore had been jilted by a move, and now Cleveland was going to be jilted and Baltimore played a role in that. The thing I didn’t fully realize at the time was that those mixed emotions were going to belong to my father’s generation. It was a new day for a generation of football fans here who hadn’t grown up with a team.

So many people went to Memorial Stadium with their fathers, their mothers, their grandmothers; it became an intergenerational joy. The Ravens coming to town created that intergenerational link. They beat the Raiders in the first game. It was an omen: This is going to work out.

The first time I saw M&T Bank Stadium, I remember thinking the scoreboard is big, the lights are bright, and the angles are wonderful, but what really makes it magical is that people are going to share something special in this place with someone they love, and that memory will be with them for the rest of their lives.

“The city went nuts. It was a moment of pride after all those years of feeling overlooked by the NFL. Politics, geography, and demographics divide us, but this moment united everybody.”

But the really big games in Ravens history have all happened on the road. That first playoff game against Denver, I don’t think anybody was thinking Super Bowl. My biggest memory of the [2000] Super Bowl week in Tampa was talking with [coach] Brian Billick in the foyer of the hotel. He was so convinced that they had this game won. He wasn’t cocky about it, but his level of confidence was so conspicuous. I remember thinking he has played this thing out 100 times in the game plan, and he has won it all 100 times. Then they stomped the Giants.

The city went nuts. It was such a moment of pride after all those years of feeling overlooked by the NFL. Politics divides us, geography divides us, demographics divide us, but this moment united everybody. To see Art Modell, who had known so many close calls as an owner, on the stage with the Super Bowl trophy, was overwhelming.

John Harbaugh is an extremely good coach, and Joe Flacco is an extreme talent. They have all the tangibles. But they also arrived at a time when they both needed each other. Their first year, Kyle Boller gets hurt in training camp, Troy Smith gets some crazy virus, so Flacco has to start. He hasn’t missed a game since.

I flew into New Orleans the Monday before the [2012] Super Bowl. Everywhere you looked you saw purple and black. Unbeknownst to me at the time, those are the colors of Mardi Gras. [Broadcaster] Stan White and I walked from the hotel to the Superdome, and it was electric. Then the game starts to unfold and they’re winning 21-6. Then Jacoby [Jones] breaks the kick return and you start thinking, ‘Oh my God, they’re going to win another Super Bowl with another blowout.’ And then the lights go out.

The whole thing turns around and goes south. It all comes down to the last play of Ray Lewis’s career. It’s either going to be total joy and fulfillment and celebration, or a level of despair and dejection that you can’t even imagine. I’ll always remember the feeling of uncertainty prior to the snap.

If you think about the life of a fan, you only experience that kind of play, if you’re lucky, a handful of times in the course of your life.”

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