And they lived happily ever after. The fairy tale story came true for Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens last night in Super Bowl XLVII, with a 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens entered the playoffs coming off a losing streak, three of their last four games, and barely made postseason play. Then, just four days before their opening playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, Ray Lewis announced his retirement. The fans were shocked, the coaches sad to see a premier player leave the game, but it all came down to the players. They wanted to make Ray’s last season special. After a convincing 24-9 win against the Colts, the Ravens plowed through playoff competition to reach the Super Bowl, with a drive to win that all rested on making it the greatest of all going away parties.
The Ravens wasted no time, scoring on their first possession of the game, a 13 yard throw and catch from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin. The first half was dominated by the Ravens, scoring twice more after that, both on passes from Joe Flacco to Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones, respectively. The 49ers couldn’t get their offense started, only putting up six points in the first half. Rookie sensation Colin Kaepernick looked uncomfortable in the pocket to say the least, with shaky accuracy and an overthrown ball that was picked off by Ed Reed.
The second half looked to be the same, with Jacoby Jones returning the opening second half kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown. But then the electricity was sucked out of the building. Literally. A power issue in the Superdome cause the entire stadium to go dark, lit up only by auxiliary and emergency lights. This proved to hurt more than just the television views, in which watchers endured a gruelling 34 minutes of darkness until the lights began popping back on.
“It really hurt us. We had lot of momentum,” fullback Vonta Leach of the Ravens told CBS. “We were rolling. That 35- or 40-minute wait, whatever it was, hurt our momentum as far as what we were trying to do.” The 49ers came back from the break with a vengeance, and the next three scores of the game, on a thirty-one yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree, a six yard touchdown run by Frank Gore, and thirty-four yard field goal from David Akers. And just like that at the end of the third quarter the score stood, still in favor of the Ravens, at 28-23.
After a fourth quarter field goal from Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker, the 49ers found themselves going for two, and the tie, after a fifteen yard touchdown run by Kaepernick. The two point conversion was halted by someone who could barely be seen running through the line of scrimmage to disrupt Kaepernick’s timing on the throw. Ravens’ safety Ed Reed blitzed on the play, and nearly sacked Kaepernick, but still forced an errant throw.
From that point on the Ravens’ took control and cruised to their second Super Bowl win.
It was the perfect ending to the perfect story, an unlikely playoff run to the Super Bowl, a beatdown in the first half, and still the calm, collectedness to hold off the rising 49ers attack late in the game.
Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens on their Super Bowl win, and a warm parting from Ray Lewis, one of the best linebackers in NFL history.
Many professional athletes will base the success of their careers with numbers. Things such as averages, how many games they’ve won or lose, rankings and records. However sometimes numbers do not give the full essence of an athletes career. Things such as character, leadership, drive and determination are not recorded in the box score in the morning paper but does determine the outcome of the game. Though Ray Lewis does not lack Canton quality numbers, the man he is off the field, translate to the passion he displays on. Personally I believe Ray Lewis is one of the best players to ever play in the NFL regardless of position. His consistent production over his 16 (and counting) years in the league are next to none. As a fellow linebacker however, yes I want to tackle like Ray. Yes I want to make plays like Ray.
At the end of the day however if I could have as much passion and love for the game as Ray, I would call my career a success. The way he motivates his teammates would make Lombardi, the majestic motivator, shiver with adrenaline and excitement during one of Rays pre-game speeches. Ed Reed Rays All Pro teammate has gone on to say, “when Ray talks you listen. No if and or buts about it. I think he (Ray) could make you believe you can go head up against a freight train and wholeheartedly think that train has no chance against you. ”
As a Ray Lewis fan, it was disturbing to see Ray hurt throughout this year and not playing at 100%. Even still with the toe injury, Ray played his best while still motivating his team until the final defeat came against the Patriots. Many analyst, sports writers, Raven fans and myself thought for sure that was Rays last game. He quickly rebuked the rumor about his retirement with that same fire in his eyes he has displayed the past 16 years.
Though it maybe hard to say but, Ray has made a bigger impact off the field than on especially in the city of Baltimore. Hoisting numerous charity events for a notoriously dangerous Baltimore area. His constant outreach to those who need help is quite admirable. The best part is, it is something he loves to do. It is not just a tax write off or just him showing up, he is making a difference. After the Patriots loss, ESPN analyst Chris Berman and Tom Jackson were discussing the legacy of Ray Lewis and what stuck out to me the most was they stated no numbers nor any statistics. To end the segment, Chris Berman closed with this, “Ray Lewis could probably run for mayor in Baltimore and not have a single opponent. No one would run against him, you can’t. And he (Ray) would not win just because his career in the NFL. He would win because of his character and his tremendous ability to lead and motivate. ”
So no need to discuss tackles, interceptions, sacks or any other statistic. Make no mistake about it, RAY LEWIS IS A HALL OF FAMER, first ballot no argument needed but his numbers don’t speak alone for his career. His leadership and his ability to motivate and get the best out of his peers will never be seen throughout the NFL. It will be a sad day when Ray does finally says enough is enough, but it will give him more time to make an even greater impact off the field.