A few weeks ago, I wrote about which Ravens team was the best to never win a Super Bowl. The debate was between the 2011 Ravens vs. the 2006 Ravens. Now, I've decided to look at two of the most frustrating and the last two losing seasons for the franchise in the past almost 10 years. These two years both started out with Super Bowl dreams and the picture of the team once again holding the Lombardi Trophy, but both ended with 5-11 seasons and were nauseating to watch. Of course, I'm talking about the 2007 and 2015 campaigns. The question is, which one was the most disappointing for Ravens' fans?
Let's kick off with the 2007 Ravens. The team was coming off a 2006 season that saw them win 13 games, clinch the AFC North and secure the #2 seed in the AFC. They did it with a balanced offense and the best defense the franchise has had since 2000. As we all know the year ended with the heartbreaking loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional round, but there were still high expectations coming into the 2007 season. I guess you can say their string of bad luck with the 2007 year started off with the team releasing running back Jamal Lewis and thinking they would re-sign him at a lower price, but Lewis wound up signing with The Cleveland Browns.
The team would respond by acquiring running back Willis McGahee from The Buffalo Bills. The year got off to a horrendous start as the team turned the ball over 6 times on opening night against The Cincinnati Bengals in front of the whole nation to see as the Ravens lost 27-20. The team would rebound nicely winning 4 of their next 5 despite the injuries from starting quarterback Steve McNair.
The good times would stop with a 4-2 record beginning in week 7 against McGahee's old team, The Buffalo Bills. The Ravens lost 19-14 and linebacker Ray Lewis criticized head coach Brian Billick's play calling at the end of the game. The seeds were planted for what would eventually be Billick's fate and the team followed it up by being at the receiving hands of a Pittsburgh style beat down on Monday Night Football as the Steelers stomped on the Ravens 38-7.
These 2 losses would be the start of a 9 game losing streak that saw the team have a horrendous secondary and an inept offense that was playing with 3 different quarterbacks during the season (the other two being Kyle Boller and Troy Smith).
During that losing streak, two losses stood out like a sore thumb. The first was on a cold December Monday night in Baltimore against the undefeated New England Patriots. The Ravens laid it all on the line. For one night this looked like the Super Bowl team many fans thought they would be, this would be their night, their Super Bowl until it was taken away.
Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense stopped Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on 4th and 1, but it was overruled by then-Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan calling a timeout. Once that happened, the writing was on the wall as a barrage of yellow flags would fly all over M&T Bank Stadium and the Patriots wound up staying undefeated.
Two weeks later the team played the winless Miami Dolphins in South Beach. Surely the team could snap their losing streak against the 0-13 Dolphins right? Right?! To quote WWE champion Dean Ambrose "Nope." The Dolphins won in overtime and the Ravens hit rock bottom. The team defeated the Steelers to snap its losing streak on the final week of the season to bring an end to the madness as Brian Billick was fired to go along with the retirements of Steve McNair and Jonathan Ogden.
Fast forward eight years and we arrive at an almost similar situation. While the 2014 Ravens didn't win the division, it had a balanced offense and a great pass rush that secured the team a wild card spot. The Ravens defeated the Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round before a gut-wrenching AFC Divisional Playoff loss to the Pats. Despite the losses of Torrey Smith, Pernell McPhee and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak in the offseason, the team felt it was ready to go on a journey to Santa Clara in 2015 for Super Bowl 50.
Little did we know that the very first day of training camp would be a sign of things to come as 2015 1st round draft pick Breshad Perriman would go down with a knee injury and we never saw him again. Week 1 wasn't as bad a 2007's opening day as the team lost a tough defensive battle 10-9 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. It was week 2 against The Oakland Raiders where Ravens fans really opened their eyes to the team they would see throughout the year.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr carved up the Ravens defense, but Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense would respond by tying the game multiple times before taking the lead. Former Ravens safety Will Hill grabbed what we thought was the game winning interception, but it was overruled due to a defensive holding penalty. Carr threw a touchdown pass later in the drive to sink the Ravens to 0-2. The Ravens mounted more losses to The Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns. Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals.
These games would have similar formulas. The Ravens defense would give up a chunk of yards and points and the offense would have to play from behind to tie it up and even take the lead until the defense would give it up again. Not to mention of course the pile of injuries. Flacco, WR Steve Smith Sr., WR Michael Campanaro, OLB Terrell Suggs, LT Eugene Monroe, RB Justin Forsett, TE Crockett Gilmore, C Jeremy Zuttah and the now infamous Perriman to name a few. All of that resulted in a 3-7 start and the Ravens Super Bowl dreams were being buried very quickly.
The Ravens also lost 9 out of those 11 games by 8 points or less, which is why I do feel the 2015 team showed more heart in times of struggle then the 2007 team did. Yes, there was the game against New England, but the 2015 team was in a lot of games and were just so close to those wins as they were snatched away from them. I can never say last year's team gave up because they never did.
Look no further than that home win against Pittsburgh with a lot of unknown players led by quarterback Ryan Mallett. The Ravens had nothing to lose and nothing to gain yet they showed that even in a down year, the team stuck together during the 2015 season. The Ravens organization also stuck by its head coach John Harbaugh, unlike the 2007 team did with Billick.
Each team has valid reasons at to why it should be handed the "most disappointing team" award. Both were hard to watch, had a lot of games go against them and they were humiliated in games as well. It seemed like nothing went the Ravens way in 2007 and 2015 but that's why it's all about how you get up and respond from the hard times. After 2007, the team got back up in a big way, now it's time to see if 2016 will await the same result.
Who do you guys believe was the most disappointing Ravens team? Sound off.