In what was his final game in the city of Baltimore, Ray Lewis, coming back from a triceps tear that kept him out for most of the season, led the Baltimore Ravens to a 24-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the AFC playoffs on Sunday.
“It got emotional for me,” Lewis said. “We’re not trying to end here. This is just my last game at Ravens Stadium.”
This could have been Lewis’s last game as a pro. The middle linebacker who has been the face of the Ravens franchise and the team’s spiritual leader announced this week this would be his final NFL season. And the win may have been even more special for the original Raven because it came against the franchise that left the city in 1984 in the middle of the night.
In the fourth quarter, Ravens’ fans chanted, “Thank you, Ray!” Lewis also came onto the field on offensive for the team’s final kneel-down as the Ravens entered into the so-called “victory formation.”
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes. And Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin had five receptions for a franchise-record 145 yards and a touchdown that sealed the game for the Ravens.
Lewis’s defense kept Indianapolis rookie quarterback Andrew Luck in check for most of the game.
Baltimore will play at Denver next week and against the quarterback whom Luck replaced in Indianapolis — Peyton Manning. Earlier in the season, Denver beat Baltimore 34-17 at Baltimore, but Lewis did not play in that game.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who used to be an assistant coach with Baltimore, also had a homecoming of sorts, as many of his former Ravens players saw him for the first time since he was released from the hospital after successfully battling cancer. Pagano, a former assistant coach at the University of Miami, has close ties to former Hurricanes on the Ravens — like Lewis and defensive back Ed Reed.
Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians did not coach in the game. He was taken to the hospital Sunday morning on a gurney after suffering from nausea and dizziness.