Ravens to Play Without Former DPOY for First Time Since 2001


One of the most incredible – and least talked about – streaks in NFL history is about to come to an abrupt end this week.

The Baltimore Ravens, a franchise that boasts arguably the greatest history of defensive talent since its inception in 1996, will be without a starting former Defensive Player of the Year this week against the Oakland Raiders for the first time in fifteen years.

The streak was crushed courtesy of a season-ending Achilles injury to Terrelle Suggs in week 1’s loss to Denver. Without their vocal and passionate leader on defense, the Ravens will now take the field without some combination of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed or Suggs for the first time since 1998.

Lewis, drafted in the first round of the Ravens’ first year, won the first of his two DPOY awards at the conclusion of the 2000 season, while Reed earned his accolade in 2004.

Following Baltimore’s victory in Super Bowl XLVII, Lewis retired a two-time champion, while Reed faded into obscurity with the Texans and Jets before signing a one-day contract to end his career as a Raven.

By the time both men rode off into their respective sunsets, Suggs was one year removed from his own DPOY, proving that, at least in Baltimore, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

So now, short of signing Troy Polamalu to a one-year contract (you can hear the Steeler fans dry heaving from here) the Ravens will finally have to do without a man once considered the NFL’s best defender.

It may all be a moot point, though. The Raiders didn’t exactly convince fans they’d be much better than 3-13 in 2015 following last week’s drubbing against the Bengals.

With a vastly improved secondary boasting a healthy Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, and a versatile offense led by Joe Flacco, the Ravens shouldn’t be troubled by the AFC West’s cellar dwellers. Still, this week marks a huge first in Baltimore’s young history.

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