Players remember: Ravens reflect on Super Bowl championship
Ravens QB Trent Dilfer holds the Vince Lombardi trophy up high after defeating the Giants in Tampa. (Sun staff photo by Kenneth K. Lam / January 28, 2001)
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Nearly 20 years apart, Matt Stover was a member of three separate Super Bowl teams. A decade after being a rookie who was on injured reserve for the New York Giants and nearly a decade before he was a 41-year old mid-season replacement for the Indianapolis Colts, Stover was a key member of the 2000 Ravens.
Stover, who retired after spending 10 games last season with the Colts, has memories of all three Super Bowls, but the one that stands out was the 2000 season and the run the Ravens made that culminated with their one-sided victory over the Giants in the Super Bowl in January 2001 in Tampa.
Stover kicked field goals of 47 and 34 yards to go along with four extra points.
It punctuated Stover's All-Pro performance that included making 35 of 39 field goals and all 30 of his extra points during the regular season.
"The kicking game was winning us games and keeping us in games because that's how our team was; you get a lot of gratification from that," Stover recalled recently.
Stover admits that his first Super Bowl experience, also in Tampa, while watching from the sidelines, helped him when he took the field for the Ravens against his former team.
"I was so young in my career, and I was kind of unobservant, but I did observe enough to where I knew the pressure of the game and the ramifications of the game," Stover said. "The thing I had to learn was by watching other players and how they handled it, and how the team orchestrated their practices … It allowed me to know how to prepare for the game mentally and emotionally."
Given the fact that the Ravens beat the Giants, 34-7, the assumption is that Stover didn't face a lot of pressure that day at Raymond James Stadium. Stover said that the magnitude of the event, not the competitiveness of the game, generates enough pressure for any player involved. Much of it happens long before kickoff.
"There are a lot of distractions, a lot of family issues, everybody is trying to come to the game, there's a lot of those peripheral things that people don't realize are there, that tends to wear on you too," Stover said.
Stover's final Super Bowl experience, with the Colts in their defeat last season to the New Orleans Saints, has helped keep the fire flickering. Stover said that his agent was recently approached by the Saints to be a short-term replacement for Garrett Hartley, but Stover turned them down.
Yet the memory of that final defeat, including a missed 50-yarder by Stover that led to the Saints' winning drive, keeps Stover practicing his craft in case of another call.
"It leaves that taste in your mouth of, ''Dang, I want to get back'," Stover said. "I want another shot at this. We could have won that game. If another opportunity showed itself that was worth it, I would be willing to go back."
Dilfer still has questions
Trent Dilfer remains the only quarterback in NFL history who was not re-signed by his team after helping it win a Super Bowl. Then again, Dilfer is aware that many believe the Ravens won the Super Bowl despite his presence, which included completing 12 of 23 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown.
"It doesn't hurt me one bit. I giggle at it," said Dilfer, now an analyst for ESPN. "That's not a scar. I want Ray [Lewis] and Tony [Siragusa] to get the credit. I'm the first to say that's the greatest defense that has ever been on a football field. I played my part and I'm fine with this."
But Dilfer does believe he had something to do with the franchise's only Super Bowl victory and the run that preceded it.
"All I know is this and I said it after they decided to sign Elvis Grbac. Time will tell whether it was the right decision or not," said Dilfer. "All I know is that we were 5-4 when I took over [from Tony Banks] and we went 11-1 with me and we won a Super Bowl. It's simple math if you ask me."
A decade later, Dilfer said that he is not bitter, but admits he is still stunned when thinking about it why he only lasted one season in Baltimore.