His farewell tour, his “last ride” will make at least one more stop.
Ray Lewis willed his team, emotionally and physically to an opening round win over the Indianapolis Colts. Thirteen tackles, nine of those solo, and a pass deflection in his first game since tearing his right triceps was a gutsy performance that could only epitomize his career.
“He’s made a huge difference for their team coming back. You could see the energy that he brought to that team on Sunday in their playoff game,” said Peyton Manning. “He’s special. That’s all you can say.”
Lewis , who has played for the same franchise since its inception in 1996, said there will be no carry over in emotions that carried pulsed through him and his teammates in No. 52’s final game in Baltimore. There will be a new, but altogether very similar sensation of emotion in Denver Saturday.
“The emotions are going to be what they’re going to be,” said Lewis. “When you go out to the next round, you move to the next round very quickly, and you’re mentality has to move with it. You can’t be running around here still celebrating last week. Last week is over.”
The future NFL Hall of Famer, 1,336 tackles and 41.5 sack to his name, isn’t the same player he once was, the one that led the Ravens to the 2001 Super Bowl and was awarded most valuable player of that game, but he still commands respect on the field.
Lewis remains is the undeniable heart of their defense.
“I think guys play differently when he is in there,” Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme said. “We have to be ready for him, get a game plan going and do whatever we have to do to move the ball down the field and get it in the end zone.”
And whether this is the abrupt end or not, his impact was felt in Denver, as it was likely everywhere else around the league. His passion, gamesmanship and hunger will certainly leave a mark on the NFL.
“The game is going to miss him,” said Champ Bailey. “I know he is going to miss the game, but I think the game will miss him more.”