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What are the best moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. Trading up to draft Kyle Boller
Following a 7-9 season in 2002 and missing the playoffs for the first time in three years, the Ravens were looking to upgrade from quarterbacks Jeff Blake and Chris Redman. They traded their second-round pick (No. 41) and their first-round pick in 2004 to the Patriots to select Kyle Boller out of California with the 19th overall pick. Boller was given every chance to be the Ravens franchise quarterback, but a string of injuries and inconsistent play led to 45 touchdowns and 44 interceptions in 53 games over 5 seasons. The Ravens eventually traded for Steve McNair in 2006 and drafted Joe Flacco in the 1st round in 2008 to replace Boller. Some consider Boller to be the biggest draft bust in franchise history. Meanwhile, the Patriots used the Ravens 2004 first-round pick on Vince Wilfork.
4. Blowing two big leads against the Patriots
After a 10-6 regular season in which they scored a franchise-record 409 points, the Ravens defeated the Steelers in the wild card round. Facing the Patriots in the divisional round on Jan. 10, 2015, the Ravens got out to an early 14-0 lead in Foxborough. However, the Patriots would come back to tie the game at 14 before a Baltimore interception and touchdown gave them a 21-14 lead at the half. Following a Justin Forsett touchdown, the Ravens once again led by 14 points. The Patriots would use some creative offensive formations and even a double wide receiver pass to once again come back from the double-digit deficit. In the fourth quarter, the Ravens once again took the lead on a field goal but couldn’t stop Tom Brady from marching down the field for what would be the game-winning touchdown. The loss was the second heartbreaking playoff defeat at the hands of the Patriots in three years.
3. The drop and the kick
The 2011 season was one of the Ravens best in franchise history. Their 12 regular-season wins was their second most all-time, they won their division for just the third time and they set a franchise record for making it to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season. But the season is only remembered for two plays in the final seconds of the AFC championship game against the Patriots in Foxborough. Trailing by three with 30 seconds remaining, the Ravens were in the red zone in a position to send themselves to the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco threw to Lee Evans in the end zone, who appeared to make the go-ahead catch before Sterling Moore was able to slap the ball out of Evans’ hands. As a result, the Ravens set up for a game-tying 32-yard field goal. Over the previous two seasons, Billy Cundiff had been a perfect 16-for-16 in the fourth quarter and had just signed a five-year, $15 million dollar contract. But some confusion over what down it was – the Foxborough scoreboard showed third down when it was actually fourth – caused Cundiff to run onto the field, taking him out of his normal routine. The snap and hold were solid, but Cundiff’s kick sailed wide left – really wide left, actually – sending the Patriots to the Super Bowl. Neither Evans nor Cundiff returned to the Ravens the following season.
2. Ray Lewis murder trial
Following a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta in 1999, Ray Lewis and people he was with got into a fight with another group of men that resulted in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. With blood of one of the victims found in Lewis’ limousine, his lawyer negotiated a plea deal with the district attorney to have the murder charges against Lewis dropped in exchange for his testimony against his two companions, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, and a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. Lewis admitted to giving a misleading statement to the police and was sentenced to 12 months probation. The NFL also fined Lewis $250,000. The media attention that the trial attracted and the way the public perceived the Ravens handling one of their star players being accused of murder left a black eye on both Lewis and the franchise that still exists today.
1. Ray Rice elevator video
Prior to the 2014 season, Ray Rice was a three-time Pro Bowl running back and a Super Bowl champion, one of the faces of the Ravens franchise. He was suspended two games by the NFL for domestic violence, but that changed drastically when TMZ released video of Rice punching his then-fiancée (now wife) Janay Palmer, then dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator. Following the release of the video, public backlash against Rice and the Ravens was swift. The NFL announced Rice was suspended indefinitely and the Ravens pulled all of Rice’s memorabilia from their pro shops. The elevator video became a lightning rod for media attention and how leagues like the NFL deal with domestic violence. Rice never played football in the NFL again.