Maybe it was that tone-setting, 80-yard, nine-minute-plus Steve McNair-led opening touchdown drive -- when was the last time you saw that out of a Baltimore quarterback? -- or maybe it was that crushing, flying hit by Ray Lewis on Michael Pittman on third-and-goal from the Bucs' 6.
Either way, the Baltimore Ravens re-announced themselves as a legitimate NFL playoff contender Sunday in Tampa Bay, and the echoes they woke up with their 27-0 blanking of the Bucs might resonate throughout this season.
Playing on the same field where they won Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, the Ravens used the same basic blueprint that worked so magnificently that season: a suffocating, playmaking defense and a veteran quarterback who works the crevices to coolly keep the chains moving.
True, the Ravens' running game isn't where it was in 2000, but McNair's superior grasp of the short passing game should pick up the slack. He helped Baltimore dominate in time of possession (35:49 to 24:11), and his 17 completions were to seven receivers for an efficient 181 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Baltimore scored in every quarter, and nine of its 16 first downs were via the passing game.
"Obviously it was a little bit more than I expected,'' Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome admitted Monday morning. "But since the addition of Steve, there has been an air of confidence that has permeated everything. In the locker room, out on the field, really just throughout the entire organization.
"And that came because we competed so many years against the guy. He's just gotten everybody else to take their play to another level. And the thing I love about him is he's come in and just wants to be a part of things. He didn't feel we owed him something. He feels he owes us something. It's the confidence that he has brought that has made a difference.''