By JOANNE KORTH
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 29, 2001
Herm Edwards, who spent the past five seasons as the Buccaneers' assistant head coach while coaching defensive backs, was hired Jan. 18 as head coach of the New York Jets. He spoke with staff writer Joanne Korth about the Ravens' 34-7 victory over the Giants.
Baltimore's defense won the game. Any time a team forces five turnovers, you have to think that team is going to win.
New York shot itself in the foot early when it let the Ravens score first. The Giants were in man coverage, the safety favored the tight end side and Brandon Stokely got behind Jason Sehorn for a touchdown. It looked like Sehorn was expecting help from the free safety, but Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer looked off the safety and hit the slot receiver. And when the Ravens get the lead, it puts the defense in a mind-set where they just say, "Hey, we've got the lead now, and we're going to keep it."
But the Giants had their chances. They had some opportunities and just didn't capitalize. Jessie Armstead intercepted Dilfer and ran it in for a touchdown, but it was called back by a holding penalty. And it was a big play when Giants quarterback Kerry Collins threw an interception right at the end of the first half. It looked like the Giants would get at least a field goal, maybe a touchdown, and go into the locker room with some momentum. Then they could have said, "It's okay, we're still in the game." But it was still 10-0. Momentum stayed with the Ravens.
New York just made too many mistakes. The Ravens played great defense, but the Giants beat themselves, too. When Collins threw the interception that Duane Starks returned for a touchdown in the third quarter, it played into the Ravens' hands. New York's offense became one-dimensional after that. They had to throw the ball to get in the game, and you don't want to have to throw against those guys. You're swimming upstream then. Collins obviously did not feel good in the pocket. New York had the draw play working early when it spread the Ravens' defense out, but once it got behind it couldn't use the run anymore.
Then, just when it seemed the Giants were back in the game at 17-7 after the punt return by Ron Dixon, the very next play they gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown by Jermaine Lewis. You can't do that and win the Super Bowl.
Dilfer did a good job of managing the game. He had a couple of big pass plays, and if he had hit the long ball into the end zone in the first quarter it would have been 14-0. But he played exactly how he was supposed to play. He didn't make any mistakes that could have cost them the game.
People will look at the score, 34-7, and think it wasn't a defensive game, but it was. It was a very tough game, just like everyone expected. And the Giants' defense played well, too. But they had too much to overcome. As for the Ravens being the best defense ever, that's hard to say. This season they were obviously the best. They had a tremendous season. But are they the best ever? I don't know.