Ray Lewis’ last ride has at least 1 more stop

DENVER (AP) - Deflated and nearly defeated, Ray Lewis slumped on the heated bench on the sideline, the hood of his heavy jacket pulled over his head. The final seconds of his brilliant career were slipping away, just like Demaryius Thomas had escaped his grasp minutes earlier.

“I’ve never been a part of a game so crazy in my life,” he said.

Thomas’ go-ahead touchdown had given Denver a 35-28 lead and now the Ravens were out of timeouts, deep in their territory. Under a minute to go, the “last ride” about to make its final stop on a frozen field in the Rocky Mountains.

Joe Flacco was buying time in the pocket, about to throw the ball away and bring up fourth down at his 30. Peyton Manning was about to beat Baltimore for a 10th straight time, and Lewis was about to call it a career.

Then Lewis spotted Jacoby Jones sprinting past him along the Baltimore sideline. More importantly, so did Flacco, who lofted a high-arcing pass into both double coverage and the frigid Denver night.

Safety Rahim Moore leaped for the interception, only he was a tad too early and a bit too shallow. The football settled into Jones’ arms and he pranced into the end zone, his 70-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left tying the game.

Baltimore (12-6) would win on Justin Tucker’s field goal in the second overtime.

Lewis‘ retirement party will wait for another day.

“Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. He grew up today,” Lewis said of Flacco. “He grew up today and in the tunnel I told him, `You’re the general now. Lead us to a victory. You lead us today. I’m just here to facilitate things.’

“And to look in his eyes, he has something different about him today and I just wanted to encourage him. To watch what he did today is probably one of the greatest things I’ll always sit back and remember.”

Reminiscing can wait for at least another week. Lewis gets to play again, against either at Houston or New England in the AFC championship game.

Flacco was the hero, but Lewis wasn’t a bystander. He was right in the middle of things, providing his usual unyielding leadership.

Lewis made 17 tackles one week after he led the Ravens with 13 stops against Indianapolis while playing for the first time in three months after being sidelined with a torn right triceps.

“We wanted to get this win for Ray and I was going to do everything I could possibly do to get this win,” said cornerback Corey Graham.

He did just that, picking off Manning twice, taking the first one back for a touchdown and setting up Tucker’s winner in the game’s 77th minute with his second interception.

Lewis had a fumble recovery in the third quarter that was negated by a questionable hands-to-the-face call on cornerback Cary Williams, but the Ravens, who were thumped at home by the Broncos 34-17 a month ago, shook it off.

The Broncos (13-4) became the ninth top-seeded team to lose at home in its first game in the playoffs, and to a team that was coming off a short week and playing at altitude, no less.

“When you look back at it and let the emotions calm down, it will probably be one of the greatest victories in Ravens history,” Lewis said. “It’s partly because of the way everything was stacked against us coming in.”

It was even better than his emotion-filled farewell to Baltimore last week, when he did his famous dance coming out of the tunnel and then again after lining up at fullback in victory formation.

“One thing about the playoffs,” Lewis said, “the only way to top it is to win the following week.”

He said he spoke to his team last week about dismissing all those who said they had no chance.

“What if we do the impossible?” Lewis recounted saying.

It wasn’t just the lead-up to the game that was so daunting. The Ravens allowed Trindon Holliday to become the first player in NFL playoff history to return a punt and a touchdown for scores, and both his 90-yard punt return and 104-yard kickoff return were the longest in league postseason history.

“For us to come in here and win, nine- to 10-point underdogs, that’s the beautiful part about sports,” Lewis said. “That’s the thing that, if I miss anything about my career, it will be to listen to what people say you can’t do and then to go do it.”

___

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

__

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) looks to pass in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 114-93. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Wizards’ Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr. hoping for big splash on small stage

  • Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) is surrounded by fans that rushed the field and security as he is escorted off the field following their 45-38 win over Oklahoma in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    SNYDER: RG3 worth his weight in bronze to Baylor

  • Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado (13), celebrates his two-run homer with Adam Jones left, with Nick Markakis, at right, during the 11th inning of an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. The Orioles won 8-2, in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Accidental rivalry: Nats-Orioles doesn’t have much edge

  • Celebrities In The News
  • (Image from DeAngelo Williams' Facebook post)

    NFL star likely fooled by Marine impostor who accepted first-class plane ticket

  • ** FILE ** In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo actor George Clooney attends the premiere of "Gravity" at the AMC Lincoln Square Theaters, in New York. George Clooney has chastised a British newspaper over an article claiming his fiancee's mother disapproves of the impending marriage for religious reasons. Clooney said that the claims about his future mother-in-law Baria Alamuddin were untrue and irresponsible. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

    Website apologizes for Clooney mother-in-law story

  • Kim Kardashian arrives at the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment 2014 Upfront at the Javits Center on Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

    Kim Kardashian visits Jersey shore