Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis has had a storied NFL career that most who have played the game would be proud of to have themselves. When Lewis announced his retirement before the Ravens Wild Card match up with the Indianapolis Colts, his team responded with an inspirational win that leaves them visiting the Denver Broncos for a Divisional Round game next Saturday.
As everyone knows watching any sport, all great careers must also come to an end. Although the Ravens were able to beat a rookie-filled roster of Colts, the next game will not be as easy, as they learned back on December 16th, when they lost to the Broncos 34-17. One thing is for certain, Lewis will not be able to control the game for the Ravens like he has been able to do in the past. Lewis’ role clearly is diminished, and even with a healthy Ed Reed, this Ravens defense is not the same squad that used to be consistently one of the best in the league.
The Ravens are 17th in the league against the pass, while also allowing 122 yards/game on the ground, which is good for 20th. The Broncos pose the league’s third ranked offense, which can beat you running the ball, as well as in the air with a rejuvenated Peyton Manning, and a duo of receivers that have become one of the best in the NFL in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
To say that the Ravens could not win this game would be foolish talk, as anything can surely happen on game day. The NFL has taught us that. The Ravens will not only be facing a tough Broncos squad that is the only team in the NFL with both an offense and defense in the top five, but also a mile high altitude and a home crowd that gets as raucous as any in the league.
The career of Ray Lewis has stayed alive for one more week, as television shows and analysts will cover his every move from rookie year until Saturday. Yet this weekend is where the book will finally be closed on the best linebacker of his generation. We could argue all year long on if Lewis is the best all-time, but different eras have produced different “greats”. Now is the time for Lewis to pass the torch to the next “great”, Von Miller. So enjoy this last week of Lewis and the Ravens, it is a story well-told, but also a story deserving of an end.
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