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Look familiar? Defense gets ball, offense runs

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 29, 2001


Tampa Bay fans surely recognized how the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXV unfolded, with the victory-bound Ravens punishing the bewildered Giants with their own version of "Buc Ball."

Kerry Collins' woes continued as the Ravens harassed him into throwing two incompletions and sacked him, forcing a punt.

Starting from the Giants 38, Baltimore's Trent Dilfer hit tight end Ben Coates with a 17-yard pass to the 21. Then rookie Jamal Lewis took over, pounding against the faltering New York defense, and breaking free for a crucial 9-yard gain to convert third and 1 at the 12.

On the next play, Lewis took the ball and swept left. Three Giants defenders stopped him a yard shy of the end zone, but Lewis extended his hands and stretched the tip of the ball into the end zone, though he fumbled almost simultaneously.

The officials ruled it a 3-yard TD run, but New York coach Jim Fassel challenged the call.

Upon further review, Baltimore had won the Lombardi Trophy.

The Ravens took a commanding 31-7 lead and the Giants' hopes of mounting a historic comeback on the NFL's greatest stage were over.

Even Ron Dixon lost luster off his star within a matter of seconds, fumbling away the ensuing kickoff. James Trapp's strip was recovered by Robert Bailey at New York's 34.

Matt Stover kicked a 34-yard field goal to make it 34-7, and the game was over except for commercial breaks.

Super Bowl XXXV MVP Ray Lewis, who finished with five tackles, was no more humble after the game than he had been in the weeks leading up to it.

"It was incredible the way we played as a team," he said. "But this defense has played this way all year, and we never got any credit for it.

"We're the best ... we're the best ever right now."

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