The season began with a stunning 20-3 loss to Cleveland. The Ravens rebounded to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, knocking starting quarterback Tommy Maddox out of the game on a play that would have a major effect on the division race.
The Ravens responded by winning five of their next six with their only loss coming at Philadelphia by just five points without Jonathan Ogden, Jamal Lewis and Todd Heap. A victory over the Washington Redskins showed the Ravens big-play ability with a blocked punt for a touchdown by Ed Reed and punt return for a touchdown from B.J. Sams being the difference in the 17-10 win.
Injuries became a huge issue throughout the season, with a number of starters missing time. Peter Boulware missed the entire season with knee and toe injuries, as did Dale Carter with a blood clot. Heap missed 11 games with a sprained ankle while Jamal Lewis was out four games because of a drug-related suspension and sprained ankle. Ogden and Deion Sanders both missed significant time. Even Ray Lewis missed the final game of the season with a broken wrist.
When punter Dave Zastudil went down with an injury in the first half against the New York Jets, backup quarterback Kordell Stewart was forced to take over the punting duties. The Ravens were able to rally for a 20-17 overtime victory, a game that served as a breakout performance for Kyle Boller. Boller threw two second-half touchdown passes to rookie Clarence Moore to carry the Ravens to victory.
However, the team stumbled down the stretch, losing four of five to see its Super Bowl hopes disappear.
The slide started on a rain-soaked, mud-covered Gillette Stadium field to the defending champion New England Patriots. The Ravens went to halftime tied at 3, but the team was outscored 21-0 in the second half. The loss virtually eliminated the Ravens from the AFC North title race with the Steelers leading by three games with just five to play.
The Ravens secondary underwent a complete meltdown in a 27-26 loss to Cincinnati. The Ravens led by 17 points in the fourth quarter before Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh took over, combining for three touchdowns against a confused and overmatched group of defensive backs.
The team kept its playoff hopes alive with a win over the New York Giants that left the Ravens in a position to control their own destiny. The defense was able to force six turnovers against a rattled Eli Manning.
Losses at Indianapolis and Pittsburgh sealed their fate as the Ravens offense sputtered. The team scored a combined 17 points in the two games after scoring 37 and 26 points the previous two weeks. Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers replacement at QB for Maddox, threw two touchdowns against the Ravens in Week 16 and went undefeated in the regular season to lead the Steelers to the AFC Championship game.
The team concluded the season with a 30-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins, which at the time kept their faint wild card hopes alive. The Ravens (9-7) were officially eliminated from playoff contention later that day when the Denver Broncos defeated the Indianapolis Colts.
The Ravens were among the biggest underachievers of the 2004 NFL season, and it was certainly one of the most disappointing years in franchise history.
How will the Ravens respond in 2005?
- S Ed Reed set an NFL record with a 106-yard interception return for touchdown against Cleveland.
- RB Jamal Lewis rushed for 1,006 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown.
- The team wore black uniforms for the first time in a victory over the Browns, 27-13.
- The Ravens had four interceptions in a 20-6 win over Buffalo.
- LB Ray Lewis, OT Jonathan Ogden, LB Terrell Suggs, CB Chris McAlister and Reed made the Pro Bowl.
- Reed intercepted a pass in three straight games.
- The Ravens defense forced the New York Giants into six turnovers.
- Jamal Lewis ran for 186 yards in the win over the Bengals.
- Rookie WR Clarence Moore led the team in touchdown receptions with four.
- Suggs finished the season with 10.5 sacks.
- Indianapolis Colts DE Dwight Freeney led the NFL with 16 sacks.
- The New England Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four years, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles.
- The San Diego Chargers drafted Mississippi QB Eli Manning first overall, only to later trade him to the New York Giants for N.C. State QB Phillip Rivers and draft picks.
- For the first time in four consecutive tries, the Eagles won the NFC Championship game.
- New York Jets RB Curtis Martin won the rushing title by one yard over Seattle Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander.
- Tennessee Titans LB Keith Bulluck led the NFL with 152 tackles.
- Kansas City beat out the Colts for the top-rated total offense.
- Minnesota Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper led the league with 4,717 yards passing.
- New England Patriots RB Corey Dillon led the league in postseason rushing yards.
- An earthquake and tsnuami hit southern coastal areas of Asia in December killing hundreds of thousands of people.
- President Bush defeated John Kerry to be elected to a second term.
- The war in Iraq continued with more than 1,000 U.S. troops killed.
- George Tenet resigned as the director of the CIA.
- Kobe Bryant avoided going to trial after the woman accusing him of rape did not testify.
- Actor Macaulay Culkin was arrested on drug charges.
- Five Indiana Pacers players were charged after going into the stands to fight fans in Detroit.
- Scott Peterson was tried and convicted of killing his pregnant wife, Laci.
- Michael Jackson was charged with child molestation.
- Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, died.