Baltimore Ravens, American professional gridiron football team based in Baltimore, Maryland, that plays in the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). A relatively young franchise, having played their first game in 1996, the Ravens nevertheless won Super Bowl titles in 2001 and 2013.
The Ravens originated when Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell decided to relocate his historic franchise, and he reached a deal with the city of Baltimore to move his team in 1996. As part of the agreement, Cleveland kept the Browns’ name, history, and colours for a future replacement team, so the newly renamed Ravens—the moniker stems from the famous poem by Baltimorean Edgar Allan Poe—were technically an expansion team. The franchise’s first draft selection was linebacker Ray Lewis, who quickly became one of the most dominant players in the NFL and helped forge the Ravens’ reputation as a team known for its ferocious defense.
After four years without a winning record, the Ravens broke through in 2000. Led by the league’s top-ranked defense, the team won 12 games during the regular season and swept through the AFC playoffs, allowing an average of fewer than 6 points per game in the postseason. The Ravens easily defeated the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV the following January, and Lewis was named Most Valuable Player of the game. In addition to Lewis, the Super Bowl-winning Ravens squad featured standouts such as offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden, tight end Shannon Sharpe, and cornerback Rod Woodson. Over the remainder of the decade, the Ravens remained competitive, qualifying for the playoffs in six of the 10 seasons from 2001 to 2010—which included a loss to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game following the 2008 season—and featuring a defense ranked in the top five for total yardage allowed in six of those years.