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Ravens alternate history: What if the Ravens knocked off the unbeaten Patriots in 2007?

Ravens alternate history: What if the Ravens knocked off the unbeaten Patriots in 2007?

The true start of the Ravens and Patriots’ rivalry can be traced back to a cold December night in 2007. 

The two had played just three times before Dec. 3, 2007, with all three results in the Patriots’ favor. The last two games, which took place in 2000 and 2004, were multiple-score wins by the Patriots. 

But the 2007 matchup had a different feel to it. 

New England was 11-0 and en route to the best season in NFL regular season history. Baltimore was 4-7 in the midst of a disappointing season after a 4-2 start to the season.

But the Ravens had the chance to play spoiler to the Patriots’ unbeaten season and finish the season with some momentum. Instead, one of the league’s best rivalries was forged. 

On Monday Night Football, the Ravens jumped out ahead of the Patriots with a Derrick Mason touchdown late in the first quarter and maintained control over the game for nearly the rest of the way. 

The Patriots tied the score twice, but couldn’t rally any further to take a lead over the Ravens. Kyle Boller had a good night through the air and went 15-for-23 for 210 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception. But the Ravens dominated the Patriots on the ground. 

Willis McGahee had 138 rushing yards on 30 carries and a score as the Patriots didn’t have an answer to keep the Ravens off the field. 

And early in the fourth quarter, Daniel Wilcox caught a one-yard pass from Boller to give the Ravens a 24-17 lead. A Stephen Gostkowski field goal cut the lead to 24-20, but the Patriots still needed a touchdown to win the game and keep their perfect season alive. 

Then all Hell broke loose.

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The Patriots were in Ravens territory when they stalled and faced a 4th-and-1 at about the Ravens’ 30-yard line with time ticking away. The Ravens appeared to have Tom Brady stopped on a quarterback sneak, but defensive coordinator Rex Ryan called a timeout from the sideline. 

The Patriots tried a fullback dive on the second 4th-and-1 and were stopped for a loss. But a false start penalty negated the play. And on the third 4th down attempt, Brady scrambled for a first down. 

New England moved to the 13-yard line, when again it was bailed out by another penalty flag on a 4th down. Brady threw for tight end Benjamin Watson in the end zone and the pass fell incomplete, but a holding penalty committed on Watson gave the Patriots another first down. 

On the ensuing play, Brady found Jabar Gaffney for a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone to give the Patriots a 27-24 lead. 

But the drive had more controversy, too. 

Outside linebacker Bart Scott was penalized for berating an official on the field. He launched the penalty flag into the stands, and thus received a second unsportsmanlike foul. Cornerback Samari Rolle had words with one referee on the drive, who Rolle claimed called him “a boy,” which resulted in an investigation from the league. 

“It’s hard to go out there and play the Patriots and the refs at the same time,” Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister said after the game. “They put the crown on top and they want them to win.”

After a near-successful Hail Mary attempt, the Ravens officially fell to 4-8 on the season. 

RELATED: WHAT IF THE RAVENS LOST TO THE TITANS IN THE 2000 PLAYOFFS?

Now it’s worth asking the question: What would’ve happened if the Ravens had won? 

The loss was the sixth of nine in-a-row for the Ravens, and a win would’ve stopped the bleeding and lifted the Ravens to 5-7 with four games to play. The Ravens hosted the Colts the following week, who finished the season 13-3, so any dreams of a strong finish were quickly going to be squashed.

Plus, even if the Ravens had won out down the stretch and finished 9-7, they wouldn’t have surpassed the 10-6 Browns or Titans, as well as the 11-5 Jaguars. 

But in Week 15, the Ravens hit a low-point and lost to the 0-13 Dolphins on the road. They finished the season with a loss to the Seahawks and a win over the Steelers. 

By that point, the Ravens knew their offense needed upgrades. So much so, in fact, that they offered their entire draft to the Rams at second overall for the ability to pick quarterback Matt Ryan. Instead, when the Rams wanted more, the Ravens traded back and selected Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco 18th overall. In the second round, they picked running back Ray Rice. 

Where this alternate history takes an interesting turn is where the game changed the outlook of the franchise.

Brian Billick, who had received an extension 10-months prior, was fired at the end of the season. Some viewed that game as the beginning of the end for his tenure in Baltimore. 

The Ravens replaced him with John Harbaugh at the end of the season, who has since been the most successful coach in franchise history. 

If the Ravens had finished 6-10, at the very least, or perhaps even with an additional win or two, it’s possible owner Steve Bisciotti would’ve been swayed to hang onto Billick for another season. And if the Ravens had still selected Flacco in 2008, Billick might’ve been given more than the 2008 season to work with his new quarterback.

While the Ravens brutal loss to the Patriots, fair or unfair, was a bitter pill to swallow, there’s a compelling case to make that everything worked out well for the Ravens in the end.

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Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti makes $1 million donation to local social justice reform programs

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti makes $1 million donation to local social justice reform programs

The Baltimore Ravens, along with the Steve and Renee Bisciotti Foundation, announced on Monday a $1 million joint-donation will be going to 28 local charities promoting racial equality. 

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti pledged to make this donation a week after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minnesota. 

The Ravens formed a committee with five players -- Justin Tucker, Morgan Cox, Marlon Humphrey, Matthew Judon and Ronnie Stanley -- and former wide receiver Torrey Smith in order to decide which Baltimore-area organizations would receive funding. 

“When you talk about social justice, there are many different issues -- from education, to criminal justice reform, to health," Smith said through a Ravens release. "There are so many avenues the players could have chosen, so they really spread it out among a lot of different grassroots organizations. This is just the beginning of trying to figure out as many ways to collaborate with the people in the city who are doing great things to help change Baltimore for the better."

For Stanley, his status as a professional athlete in America's biggest sporting league makes him 

“I’m passionate about this, knowing the position I’m in and how blessed I am to be in a position to help people. I’m not going to forget about the people who are dealing with things that aren’t fair. We have an opportunity to help make the world a better place, and I want to take advantage of that," Stanley said in the Ravens statement.

“There are so many places in society that racism has affected. It really starts with people’s mentalities and how they’ve been raised and taught," continued Stanley. "The biggest thing for me is educating people about their own misconceptions and stereotypes, helping them understand the root behind these stereotypes and why the black community is where it is today. It has everything to do with American history.”

For a full list of the 28 organizations receiving money, click here

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Lamar Jackson is only focused on one thing after his MVP season: Winning a Super Bowl

Lamar Jackson is only focused on one thing after his MVP season: Winning a Super Bowl

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson deserved every single one of the votes he earned a year ago when he was unanimously voted the NFL's Most Valuable Player.

Jackson electrified in 2019, leading the NFL in passing touchdowns with 36 while shattering the sport's single-season QB rushing yards record with over 1,200 yards on the ground. He led Baltimore to a 14-2 record and the top seed in the AFC before the Ravens were upset by the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

On an individual level, there's not much Jackson can do in 2020 to top his personal success in 2019. Well, it's a good thing the QB is not focused on his individual accolades.

Ravens tight end Mark Andrews -- Jackson's top target from 2019 -- spoke to local media on Monday and said that Jackson's only goal for an encore to his MVP season is leading Baltimore to a Super Bowl.

"His biggest goal is to win a Super Bowl. That's his biggest thing," Andrews said. 

RELATED: OPTING-OUT NEVER REALLY CROSSED MARK ANDREWS' MIND

After Jackson's remarkable 2019 campaign, it would be easy for the success he's had to get in his head. But according to Andrews, it's been nothing like that at all for the rising third-year QB.

"There's no superstardom coming from Lamar. Lamar is Lamar, and that's something that we all love about him," Andrew said. "That's something we can kind of relate to, that his head is not too big and it will never get too big, because he's down to earth."

While the Super Bowl is a lofty goal, it's a realistic one for Jackson and the Ravens. But for now, in August, left tackle Ronnie Stanley thinks Jackson should just focus on getting a little better each day, and the rest will work itself out in the long run.

"Just not try to make these tremendous leaps. Everyone kind of tries to put that pressure on you," Stanley said on advice for Jackson following his MVP season. "Just go in every day just trying to get a little bit better. Just keep that focus that, ‘I’m going to get better at this today.’ And just focus on that; not thinking every day that you have to be the perfect person or perfect player, because I feel like guys can get too ahead of themselves."

Entering the 2020 season, Jackson and the Ravens' disappointing performance in the playoffs is what many remembers from their 2019 season. The 14-2 record and overall regular season success are overshadowed by the early playoff exit.

That loss has stuck with Jackson, too, and it's motivated him this entire offseason.

"He's the best player I've ever been around, and he works hard," Andrews said. "So I think you're going to see an even more polished and even more ready Lamar than you saw last year. That sounds almost unbelievable, but the guy is incredible and he's a winner."

And while the expectations for Baltimore in 2020 are as high as they come, Andrews knows Jackson won't change his demeanor to try and accomplish them.

"Lamar is Lamar, man. He's never going to change who he is," Andrews said.

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