By Alec Fink
He was in the middle of his 17th season in the National Football League and had accomplished more than any player would dream of, being voted the Defensive MVP twice, invited to the Pro-Bowl 13 times, and had already won a Lombardi Trophy with the Ravens in 2001. Ray Lewis could have called it quits after what looked like a season ending injury against Dallas in week six.
Lewis did, in fact, return for the 2012-2013 playoffs, telling his team it would be the “last ride” of his career. The Baltimore Ravens had lost four of their last five games and they desperately needed inspiration.
Once Lewis stepped out of the tunnel for what would be his last game in front of the home crowd in Baltimore and performed his traditional dance, the tables turned immediately. The crowd erupted and the Ravens players received a much-needed emotional charge.
From then on, Ray Lewis and his defense played exceptionally well, giving up a paltry nine points to the Colts, 21 offensive points to the Broncos, and finally completed their hunt for a Super Bowl berth by shutting the New England Patriots out in the second half in Foxboro.
Now, the Ravens knew for sure when Lewis would finish his career: on the biggest stage in football. Leading up to the Super Bowl, Lewis told his team about the big game, telling them what it felt like to hold the Lombardi Trophy in 2001. Known for his brilliant motivational skills and being able to teach his teammates, Lewis prepared his teammates and even coaches for the Super Bowl.
With the game coming down to the wire, the San Francisco 49ers were seven yards away from taking the lead with under two minutes left. It was up to Lewis and his defense to hold one of the hottest offenses in football and claim the title of World Champions.
They did just that, and the Baltimore Ravens ran out the clock and made one last stop on special teams to win the Super Bowl in Ray Lewis’ last game as an NFL player. It was the perfect way for Lewis to go out, putting everything on the line with the defense he has molded over the last seventeen years.
Lewis will always be remembered for leaving everything on the field, being a great teammate, and one of the greatest players to have ever played the game of football.