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Ray's last ride is bigger than the win over the Colts

A lot has happened in the last two months. The Republicans lost an election that most of the talking heads agreed was all but theirs to lose. Hurricane Sandy wreaked her havoc just days before the election. The President flew in and, making sure that Republican Chris Christie was standing next to him, had his picture taken before going right back out onto the campaign trail.

The "credit" for the President's reelection goes to the liberal/socialist/Democratic Mainstream Media (LSDMSM) lapdogs who failed to seriously question the President on any issue that might have hurt him. From the terrorist attack which took the lives of an ambassador and three other Americans on the anniversary of 9-11 to Obamacare, to the state of the economy, or 23 million unemployed, the LSDMSM demonstrated no interest in reporting the facts.

Now that the "deal" to avoid the "Fiscal Cliff" has been reached and the President has won what he campaigned for, i.e. tax increases on 'the rich," one would think that the country's revenue "problems" are behind us. If that's what you think, then you don't know the LSDs. "Botox" Nancy Pelosi doesn't think that Americans pay enough in taxes. "Tax and Spend" Ben Cardin, LSD-MD, agrees.

"We've done about $2 trillion," says Ben. "I thought $4 trillion is the goal we should reach. I think we're about halfway there." Nice to know that Ben got far enough along in school that he can add 2 trillion and 2 trillion and come up with the sum of 4 trillion. What's not so nice is that with Speaker of the House John "Tears" Boehner running the show for Republicans, it's anyone's guess how much of that $4 trillion the LSDs will extort.

But all of that is for another day. There is plenty of time for it. The big story in Baltimore is still Ray Lewis' impending retirement. Watching him as he performed his ritual pre-game dance for the last time yesterday, well, let's just say that it was an emotional experience.

There were quite a few storylines connected to yesterday's Ravens-Colts playoff game without even mentioning how Robert Irsay sneaked the Colts out of Baltimore in a snowstorm and under the cover of darkness in 1984. But I'll do it anyway.

The Ravens had never beaten the Colts in a playoff game. In their only playoff meeting, the Colts upset the Ravens 15-6 in 2006, in Baltimore. The Colts' Adam Vinatieri kicked 5 field goals, and that was the extent of the Colts' offense. The Ravens' defense kept Peyton Manning and Co. out of the end zone and the Colts still won. Rubbing salt in the wound, they went on to win the Super Bowl that year.

The big story this time was supposed to be Colts' Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who last year was the Ravens' Defensive Coordinator, and his bout with leukemia. He missed 13 weeks of the season while he underwent treatment. Colts' fans, rival players, and even Colts' cheerleaders shaved their heads in support and "Chuckstrong" became the word of the year. The Colts made the playoffs under rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. They won 11 games this year, after winning only two last season. The Ravens were supposed to be the bad guys, raining on Chuck's "I survived" parade. I was looking forward to it, glad that Chuck is healthy again. But he left. He's a Colt. The Ravens beating the Colts in a playoff game? That's not far from winning it all.

Then Ray Lewis announced that the Ravens' playoff run would be his "last ride," and something happened. The Earth shifted and the story became that one of the giants of the game would soon be seen no more. He was playing his last home game against his recovering former coach, and everybody was feeling the love. Suddenly, there was no bad guy. No bad blood. No hero. No anti-hero. The game turned into a '60s feel-good love-in, and it felt strange. That the Ravens beat the Colts 24-9 seemed anti-climactic. There was little pleasure in beating them. I feel cheated.

After the game was over, some of the talking-heads gushed that the Ravens' victory was keyed by a return to "Ravens old-syle defense." No, it wasn't. The Ravens' defense was not the dominant force of the last decade or more. Far from it.

Sure, the Colts were held to three field goals, but the game reflected little of "old-style" Ravens' defense. The Ravens gave up 419 yards in total offense to the Colts. They been giving up similar totals all year. It is a group that routinely misses tackles and commits stupid penalties. They lack speed. They can't stop the run. Their pass rush has been inconsistent at best.

Sure, the defense has been hit with more than its share of injuries. Ray Lewis himself missed 10 games. Terrell Suggs missed the first six. The Ravens have lost two of their three best cornerbacks and several starting linebackers at various times. But even a full strength, this is a less than stellar group. Going into the game, they were ranked 17th in the NFL, and for much of the season much lower than that.

No, the Ravens won yesterday because Ray Lewis willed them to win. He's been doing that his whole career. Yesterday, he went onto the field wearing a brace on his injured arm that was bigger than the entire body of many an average man. He made his typical team-leading 13 tackles and was credited with one pass "defensed" when he dropped an errant Luck pass which he should have intercepted.

For this day, the defense was inspired. They pressured the quarterback, made more tackles than they missed, and tried to live up to the Ravens' tradition of tough defense. Holding the Colts to 419 yards was the best they could do. They just don't have the horses this season.

I heard one of the talking heads say that "I root for the Ravens now, but the Baltimore Colts are still my team." I can relate. Irsay's theft of the Colts still hurts. But that the Baltimore Colts exist only in memory. The Ravens are right here in front of us, making memories. The Indianapolis Colts are, and will always somehow be unworthy successors to the Baltimore Colts. Imposters in horseshoe helmets. Irsay could have taken his crummy team, and the Colts were crummy under him, but he didn't have to take the name, or the team colors, or the logo and traditions.

That is the legacy of Robert Irsay, vindictive buffoon first class, a petty drunk who took the finest organization in the NFL and ran it into the ground to see what would happen.

Ray Lewis didn't change the past. It was beyond his power to change it, but he made it bearable. We old Colts' fans had a rooting interest again, besides rooting against the Colts. Like John Unitas turned the Baltimore Colts into champions in the 1950s-60s, Ray transformed a rag-tag team into Super Bowl winners and consistent contenders. He did it through example and force of will. He did it again yesterday, perhaps for the last time. Without him, the Ravens might still be losers. There will never be another like him.

That is the legacy of Ray Lewis.


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