The Ravens entered their third season in Baltimore with a new stadium and the hope of contending for a playoff spot. They finished the season not knowing which direction the franchise was headed.
Head coach Ted Marchibroda returned for his third season and was joined by first round draft pick Duane Starks (cornerback) and free-agent signee Rod Woodson (safety). The Ravens hoped the two defensive backs could help stabilize the erratic play in the secondary.
The team also acquired offensive help, trading for quarterback Jim Harbaugh and running back Errict Rhett. Harbaugh replaced the mistake-prone Vinny Testaverde, who signed as a free agent with the New York Jets while Rhett would be the team's workhorse out of the backfield.
The Ravens split their first four games of the season, losing to Pittsburgh 20-13 in the season opener before winning at the Jets. After a loss at Jacksonville, the Ravens bounced back to beat Cincinnati, 31-24.
The season then took a turn for the worse as the Ravens lost four straight games, putting their hopes of contending for the playoffs in serious jeopardy.
A home victory over the Raiders put the Ravens back on track as the team won three of its next four games.
Inconsistent play on both sides of the ball led to three consecutive losses that eliminated the Ravens from playoff contention, beginning with a 16-14 loss at Tennessee. The loss to Tennessee was the turning point as the Ravens had a chance to pull out a victory but were stopped on a fourth and one late in the game.
The Ravens struggled to play with any emotion in a 24-3 loss to the Chicago Bears in the second to last game of the season. Many felt it would take a disciplinarian-type of coach to command the respect of the young players for the franchise to move forward.
The Ravens finished the season 6-10 after a 19-10 home win over the Detroit Lions. Harbaugh and Rhett were both major disappointments. The quarterback struggled all season long with injuries to his throwing hand and elbow and was eventually replaced by Eric Zeier, who fared no better. Rhett carried the ball just 20 times after the first two games of the season. One bright spot was the emergence of Priest Holmes, who took over for Rhett and rushed for over 1,000 yards.
The offense was a huge disappointment, finishing 26th overall and dead last in first downs. In the previous two seasons the defense was horrible but the offense put points on the board to keep the Ravens in the game, only to make a mistake at a critical time. Now the Ravens were stuck with a defense that was still terrible and an offense that couldn't score.
The franchise's third straight losing season was too much. Marchibroda's contract was not renewed and a new regime was just around the corner.
- RB Priest Holmes rushed for 227 yards in a 20-13 win at the Cincinnati Bengals.
- DE Michael McCrary recorded 14.5 sacks.
- S Rod Woodson intercepted six passes, two for touchdowns.
- Holmes had a team-leading 43 receptions.
- LB Peter Boulware, WR/RS Jermaine Lewis, LB Ray Lewis, McCrary, OT Jonathan Ogden and S Bennie Thompson were all selected to the Pro Bowl.
- The Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts, 38-31, in their first visit to Baltimore since they left town in 1983.
- The Ravens and Minnesota Vikings set an NFL record with three kickoff returns for touchdowns, all in the first quarter.
- Jermaine Lewis returned two punts for touchdowns while Corey Harris returned one kickoff for a touchdown.
The Year in the NFL
- The Indianapolis Colts selected Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Peyton Manning with the first overall pick in the draft.
- Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis rushed for over 2,000 yards.
- Colts running back Marshall Faulk led the NFL with 2,227 total yards.
- Broncos kicker Jason Elam set an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal.
- New England Patriots cornerback Ty Law led the league with nine interceptions.
- Green Bay Packers defensive end Reggie White averaged one sack per game.
- Vikings kicker Gary Anderson was a perfect 35 for 35 on field goal attempts.
- The Broncos won their second consecutive Super Bowl, defeating the upstart Atlanta Falcons.
- Packers quarterback Brett Favre led the NFC in both passing yards and interceptions.
- The Vikings finished the regular season 15-1, the best record in the NFL.
The Year in the World
- President Bill Clinton made history when he was the first sitting president to testify before a grand jury following the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
- Hurricane Mitch hit the Caribbean and Central America, leaving an estimated 10,000 people dead.
- Singer and actor Frank Sinatra died of a heart attack at age 82.
- John Glenn returned to space 36 years after he orbited the earth.
- Researchers successfully grew human stem cells from embryonic tissue in a laboratory.
- California Congressman and former entertainer Sonny Bono died in a ski accident. He was 63.
- Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken sat out a game for the first time since May 29, 1982, leaving his consecutive games record at 2,632.
- Legendary Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray died at age 77.
- St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris' record of 61 home runs in a season by belting 70.