OWINGS MILLS, Md., April 13 -- The Baltimore Ravens will have plenty of opportunities to show off their vaunted defense during the 2005 season, with four nationally televised games against some of the NFL's most explosive offensive teams.
The Ravens, who finished 9-7 and narrowly missed the playoffs in 2004, open the season Sept. 11 with a Sunday night game against Indianapolis, the first trip to Baltimore for the Colts and record-setting quarterback Peyton Manning since December 2001. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Ray Lewis and Baltimore's celebrated defense will face four of the league's best offenses on national television.
(Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)
The Green Bay Packers, along with quarterback Brett Favre, will make their first regular season appearance at M&T Bank Stadium on "Monday Night Football" on Dec. 19. Six days later, the Ravens host Minnesota on Christmas night in an ESPN game. Indianapolis, Green Bay and Minnesota -- along with the Ravens' Dec. 11 opponent, Denver -- all ranked in the top five in the league in total offense in 2004.
"I think it's great for our fans to have two athletes of that caliber to come into M&T Bank Stadium," Baltimore Coach Brian Billick said, referring to Favre and Manning. "The atmosphere -- the Colts, Manning, Sunday night, the opener -- wow. That's going to be electric."
Baltimore's bye falls during Week 3, which means the team will play only two games between its preseason finale against Washington (Sept. 1) and its Oct. 2 game against the New York Jets.
"Obviously, you'd prefer to have it later," Billick said of the bye week. "But after two tough games like Indianapolis and Tennessee, we might need the bye."
Baltimore won't face its first AFC North division foe until Week 6, when it hosts Cleveland (Oct. 16). That game marks the beginning of a seven-week stretch in which the Ravens will play five divisional games -- including two against defending AFC North champion Pittsburgh. They face the Steelers at Heinz Field in a Monday night game on Halloween.
The Ravens, who are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the franchise's move to Baltimore, will play in Detroit for the first time; the Oct. 9 game at Ford Field will be the first regular season meeting between the teams since 1998. Baltimore will make its first trip to Chicago's Soldier Field since 1998 on Oct. 23, and it will face the Houston Texans, Dec. 4 at home, for the first time.