Ok, this is going to be short. And painful. There's not much history between the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens, and what history exists heavily favors the Ravens. There's plenty of history if we count the original Cleveland Browns, the Art Modell-owned franchise that relocated to Baltimore, but that would be cheating, since the Browns are still the Browns, though the Ravens were also sort of the Browns. (Can't the NFL go back and fix things the way they did when they designated the expansion Cleveland team the Browns while re-attaching their history, and do the same thing with Baltimore? If the Cleveland Browns can magically reappear, why can't the Baltimore Colts? By all rights the Baltimore team should be called the Colts, but I guess that ship has sailed. And I digress . . .) The Giants have a 1-2 regular-season record vs. the Ravens along with a nightmarish Super Bowl loss. Here's a recap of each of the games, three blowouts and a nail biter.
The two teams first met in the Ravens' second season of existence, on Sept. 14, 1997, at the Meadowlands. Both teams came into the game with 1-1 records, and it was the only close contest between the two teams, with Baltimore edging out the Giants, 24-23. Former Colts coach Ted Marchibroda was the first coach for the Ravens and the team still featured a few players closely associated with the Browns, like Vinny Testaverde and Ernest Byner, while original Raven Ray Lewis was in his second season. Baltimore finished the year with a 6-9-1 record, while the Giants went 10-5-1 in Jim Fassel's first year on the New York sidelines. Dave Brown (28-for-46, 269 yards, one touchdown, no picks), in his final year with the Giants, and Tiki Barber (64 rushing yards), in his first, led the Giants offense, along with Chris Calloway, who caught eight passes for 79 yards. Testaverde (22-for-35, 223 yards, two touchdowns, one interception), playing his last season for the Ravens/Browns franchise before moving on to the Jets, and Byner (57 rushing yards, five catches for 20 yards), in his swan-song NFL season, led the Ravens. Testaverde hit Derrick Alexander with a 22-yard pass to open up the scoring. The Giants almost tied it in the second quarter on a one-yard rushing touchdown by Barber, but Brad Daluiso missed the extra point (he also missed two field goals in the game). Jay Graham crossed the goal line for the Ravens, while Charles Way caught a one-yard pass from Brown, with the Giants failing on the two-point conversion, making the score 14-12 at halftime. In the second half the Giants took a 23-14 lead on a Tyrone Wheatley one-yard score (with Brown hooking up with Barber for the two-point conversion) and a Daluiso 27-yard field goal, but they couldn't hold on as Testaverde connected with the "other" Michael Jackson on an 11-yard touchdown pass and Matt Stover nailed a 37-yarder for the winning points.
The next time the Giants and Ravens met came in Super Bowl XXXV, on Jan. 28, 2001, at Raymond James Stadium. The Giants had plenty of experience losing NFL Championship Games (11 in all, while winning four), but this was their only Super Bowl loss in five tries. Do we really want to relive the ugliness? When Trent Dilfer completed a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley to give the Ravens a 7-0 lead? When Jesse Armstead's 43-yard interception return for a touchdown was nullified on a dubious holding call on Keith Hamilton? When Stover booted a 47-yard field goal? When the only Giants score -- a 97-yard kickoff return by Ron Dixon -- was sandwiched by two Ravens touchdowns (a Duane Starks 49-yard pick six and a Jermaine Lewis 84-yard kickoff return), all three coming in the span of 36 seconds? When Jamal Lewis and Stover finished off the Giants with a three-yard touchdown run and a 34-yard field goal, respectively, to make the final score 34-7? When Kerry Collins threw four interceptions and had a passer rating of 7.1? When the Giants only gained 152 total yards? When Ray Lewis won the MVP with a five-tackle, four-blocked-pass performance? Do we really want to relive that nightmare? Ok, I guess we just did.
Eli Manning's infamous 0.00 passer rating came in the third meeting, on Dec. 12, 2004, at M&T Bank Stadium, with Baltimore crushing the Giants, 37-14. It was Manning's fourth career start, and he only completed four of 18 passes, threw for 27 yards, with two interceptions and no touchdowns. His counterpart that day, Kyle Boller, tossed four touchdown passes without a pick, going 18-for-34, throwing for 219 yards. In his final appearance as a Giant, Kurt Warner (6-for-9, 127 yards) relieved Manning. The only highlights for the Giants were an Osi Umenyiora 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown and a too-little, too-late Barber one-yard touchdown run. It was Eli's worst-ever game, but two Super Bowl MVPs later, it all worked out in the end (though he looked like he was doing his 2004 impression in last Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons).
The Giants finally defeated the Ravens, on Nov. 16, 2008, at the Meadowlands, by a decisive 30-10 score. The victory put the Giants at 9-1 for the season, but a few weeks later Plaxico Burress did his Barney Fife impression and the season went down in flames. The Ravens fared a bit better, with an 11-5 regular-season mark, and made it to the AFC Championship Game, but fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers. A pair of Brandon Jacobs one-yard rushing touchdowns and a Manning to Darcy Johnson one-yard pass gave the Giants an insurmountable 21-0 lead (it was one of only nine career catches and two touchdowns for the tight end). Baltimore scored the next 10 points when Stover kicked a 38-yard field goal and rookie Joe Flacco connected with Le'Ron McClain on a 10-yard pass, but the Giants put the icing on the cake with an Aaron Ross 50-yard pick six (one of two interceptions for the cornerback) and a Lawrence Tynes 19-yard field goal. The Giants piled up 207 rushing yards, splitting it up three ways, with Ahmad Bradshaw gaining 96 yards, Jacobs 73 and Derrick Ward 41. Manning managed a 73.3 passer rating this time around, going 13-for-23, throwing for 153 yards, with a touchdown and interception.