NFL Nation: Tony Siragusa
Baltimore was far from a perfect Super Bowl team in 2000. Most notably, the team had issues at quarterback. The Ravens started with Tony Banks under center but finished with Trent Dilfer, who played efficiently enough for Baltimore to make an incredible run to end the season.
At one point, the Ravens were a middle-of-the-pack, 5-4 team. Then Baltimore got hot, winning seven straight to end the regular season and four more postseason games, including a victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
Led by middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the Ravens set several defensive records in 2000, including fewest points (165) and fewest rushing yards (970) allowed in a 16-game season. Baltimore also pitched four shutouts.
There were seemingly no weaknesses on defense. Baltimore's defensive line was stout with Adams and Tony Siragusa, the linebackers were elite, and the secondary had stud playmakers at safety (Woodson) and cornerback (McAlister).
Then-rookie tailback Jamal Lewis anchored the offense with 1,364 rushing yards. Tight end Sharpe was the team's most dependable receiver, recording 67 receptions for 810 yards.
Most impressive win: Although the Super Bowl win over the Giants will go down as the biggest game of the season, the most impressive was Baltimore's dominance in the AFC Championship Game, a 16-3 road win over the Oakland Raiders. The Ravens' defense smothered Oakland's high-powered offense led by quarterback Rich Gannon. Baltimore forced five Oakland turnovers.
Research Room: Longtime Ravens kicker Matt Stover made the only Pro Bowl of his 19-year career in 2000. With an inconsistent offense, Stover was clutch in connecting on 35 of 39 field goals. He led the NFL in both field goals made and field-goal attempts that season. Stover also converted all 30 extra-point attempts.
Lone ranger: Ray Lewis remains the only player currently with the Ravens from their Super Bowl team in '00. Now 35, the future Hall of Famer is still playing at a Pro Bowl level. Lewis signed a multi-year deal in '09 to make certain that he retires a Raven.
Several key members from Baltimore's Super Bowl team left the organization in the past several seasons. Jamal Lewis last played for the Ravens in '06, Ogden retired after the '07 season, and McAlister and Stover last played for Baltimore in '08.
Honorable mentions (in order):
2006 (tie): Baltimore finally got solid quarterback play from former NFL MVP Steve McNair, and the Ravens won 13 regular-season games. But in the postseason they ran into nemesis Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, who eventually won the Super Bowl.
2008 (tie): The Ravens became the first NFL team to win two road playoff games with a rookie quarterback (Joe Flacco). But their run was stifled in fourth quarter of the AFC title game to another eventual Super Bowl champion: The Pittsburgh Steelers.
2001: Baltimore's attempt to defend a Super Bowl title ended with a second-round playoff exit. The Elvis Grbac experiment was a disaster. After signing a big free-agent deal with Baltimore, he had more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (15).
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike SandoDarren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who suggests the Giants will have to earn his respect.
Sheldon Mickles of the Advocate says Kurt Warner is giving Drew Brees a run for the MVP award. Saints coach Sean Payton states his case for Brees, a case that goes beyond raw passing stats.
Bob Baum of the Associated Press reflects on the Cardinals and Giants in light of the Giants' decision to bench Warner for Eli Manning.Kevin Shields of WCBSTV.com says the Giants need to stick with their run-first game plan and "just run the ball down Arizona's throat."
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals and Suns have traded places in the Phoenix sports hierarchy.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Giants and Cardinals are a study in contrast.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic profiles Fox sideline reporter Tony Siragusa, who will work the Cardinals-Giants game at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals' culture is changing under coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune takes a humorous look at the Cardinals' past futility, noting that those covering the team could always count on down time come January.
Also from Bordow: Giants coach Tom Coughlin lists stopping the Cardinals' ground game among his team's top priorities. Yeah, right.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee outlines four steps that would help Mike Singletary remain head coach beyond this season. Having Shaun Hill emerge as a long-term option at quarterback would certainly help.
Also from Barrows: A look at key matchups.
More from Barrows: Terrell Owens' dark side can appear at any time.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Tony Romo's even keel helps keep Owens from imploding.
Also from Maiocco: A look at trends and key matchups from the 49ers-Cowboys game.
Brian McIntyre of Scout.com predicts a 20-17 victory for the Seahawks against the Redskins. He expects improved play from Matt Hasselbeck.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers are looking to reverse a five-year run of futility on the road, particularly in games that kick off at 10 a.m. PT.
Also from Crumpacker: A quick look at what to watch for in the 49ers-Cowboys game.
Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle appreciates the versatility, intelligence and toughness of 49ers running back Michael Robinson.
Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle takes inventory at Texas Stadium, home of the $350 (and rising) used urinal.
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says Mike Holmgren wants to win as many games as he can this season. The coach isn't interested in preparing the team for 2009.
Also from Romero: Key questions from the Redskins-Seahawks matchup. Don't expect Shaun Alexander to play much against his former team.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at trends in NFL coaching hires. First-time head coaches seem to be faring well, from Jim Zorn to Tony Sparano to John Harbaugh to Mike Smith.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at the uncertain contractual future of Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill. Will a losing season affect his value?
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune sizes up the Zorn factor in the Redskins-Seahawks matchup.
Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks have become spoilers. They face five playoff contenders in their final six games.
Also from Johnson: A look at Zorn's rise through the coaching ranks in spite of Chuck Knox's refusal to hire him as an assistant coach.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams need a quality alternative to injured running back Steven Jackson.
Also from Thomas: The Rams are having problems with shotgun snaps.
More from Thomas: A look at key matchups in the Bea
rs-Rams game. He gives the Rams an edge when they pass the ball.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom, who says he's "underwhelmed" by the performance of the front office and what he sees on the field. Rosenbloom recommits to keeping the Rams in St. Louis.