Sunday, February 3, 2013

27-0 Embarrassment Versus Super Bowl-bound Ravens Left Jerry Jones Little Room To Dodge Reality

There's not much to say!

Throughout the twenty-first century, a bitter war between reality and perception has been waged within the confines of Valley Ranch.  Though perception persists, reality has nevertheless prevailed, even sometimes in alarming fashion.

So in honor of today’s Super Bowl XLVII participant from the AFC, let’s take a peek back into history and remind everybody just how good the Baltimore Ravens were back in the year 2000…and how low the Dallas Cowboys of once mighty glory had descended.

The Ravens were a Super Bowl-bound team reliant on a powerful rushing attack led by rookie running back Jamal Lewis and a tenacious, hard-hitting defense.  The Cowboys, on the other hand, were a bad 4-6 squad that owner Jerry Jones envisioned on the way back up, a week removed from a gut-wrenching overtime defeat in Philadelphia with backup quarterback Randall Cunningham filling in for Troy Aikman.  Now, with Aikman slotted to be back in the starting lineup, Jones thought nothing could stop the Cowboys from muscling past an unproven Ravens squad in an unfamiliar environment in Maryland.

What transpired, however, on a cold Sunday afternoon before a Fox television audience was an omen of eventual triumph for the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV against New York a few weeks later, and a harsh reminder that the Team of the ‘90s was nothing more than a tread mark on the highway of irrelevance.

Going left, right and anywhere he pleased, Lewis rushed for 187 yards on only 28 totes.  Of Lewis’ carries, 17 went for 7 yards or more, and seven rushing attempts totaled 10 yards or more.  Coupled with a Dallas offensive attack that never got off the team bus, it all added up to a 27-0 hope-shattering defeat that left Jones little place to hide.

“This is very embarrassing,” said Jones following the game.  “This is stunning.
“Overtime losses have you looking at turnovers, at mistakes. This is a clearer read on where we are.  The way Baltimore ran the ball on us almost at will this left no doubt today.”

The head coach tried to be diplomatic in defeat, but even he was rendered speechless.  ““They came out and blocked us,” Dave Campo said.  “Why?  We’ll have to look at the film and find out why.”

The “why” in it all can, in retrospect, be linked to the ultimate destiny of each respective franchise. 

Brian Billick, Art Modell and Ray Lewis stood tall celebrating a championship season for the ages in early February, while Jones and Co. licked their wounds at Valley Ranch trying to figure out how such a 5-11 squad could have fooled them into thinking that a Super Bowl was imminent.

Here we are twelve years later with Baltimore still playing and Dallas back at home, the victim of sabotaged expectations yet again.  One will be making another attempt at football immortality, while the other continues to grapple with a reality that fails to line up with in-house perception.

Some things never change.