'Greatest in history'
Collins, Giants had no chance against Ravens' defense
When the Giants tried to pass, the results were even worse against the NFL's best defense.
The Ravens' first NFL title was built on their ability to completely shut down an opponent's running game. It was secured by picking off four passes by Kerry Collins, who had five touchdown passes two weeks ago in the NFC Championship Game.
"They confused me," Collins said of the Ravens, who held him to 15 completions for 112 yards and sacked him four times. "They did a good job of disguising coverages. All around, I made bad reads, they had good defensive coverage, and in a game like this, against a defense like this, you can't do that."
Ron Dixon's 97-yard kickoff return provided the Giants' only points in Baltimore's 34-7 rout.
New York never got halfback Tiki Barber going, which meant the Giants had to go to the air early -- just what the Ravens wanted.
"We came after them early, set a tempo," said defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, who likely will wind up as the head coach in either Cleveland or Buffalo. "We applied pressure to let them know we'll play our defense and keep attacking and not let anyone take us out of our game."
Instead, it was New York's offense that was completely taken out of the Super Bowl.
Collins completed only eight passes in the first half while the Ravens picked him off twice. The first was grabbed by Jamie Sharper after it was tipped by fellow linebacker Ray Lewis, the game's Most Valuable Player. That didn't lead to any points, but it denied the Giants decent field position.
The second pickoff, by Chris McAlister, was a prime example of what Baltimore does best. The defense that allowed an all-time low of 165 points this season pressured Collins with a strong rush. He forced a deep pass over the middle into double coverage, and McAlister leaped to grab it at the Ravens' 5-yard line just before the half ended.
"I think maybe Collins got pressure he was not expecting," McAlister said. "He may have been rattled."
The fourth interception was the killer.
Still in the game, behind just 10-0, New York got the ball at its 44. On the first play, Collins' poor throw was intercepted by Duane Starks, who scooted untouched into the end zone from 49 yards.
"I played soft, and I took my chance when I knew I had a great shot to do it," Starks said. "All those interceptions that I didn't return for a touchdown during the season, I was saving it for the Super Bowl."
Following consecutive kickoff returns for scores, making it 24-7, the Giants no longer could afford to run. Not that they would have gotten anywhere -- the Giants managed 66 yards on 16 rushing attempts.
"If you followed us throughout the playoffs, we dominated anyone we played," said Ray Lewis, the league's defensive player of the year. "I truly believe this defense has to go down as the greatest in history."