- - Sunday, January 6, 2013

BALTIMORE — Ray Lewis’ spectacular 17-year NFL career will continue for at least one more week.

Returning to the field 12 weeks after tearing his right triceps, Lewis helped the Baltimore Ravens defeat the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs.

The Ravens (11-6) will now visit Denver on Saturday in the divisional round.

For Lewis, the emotions began pouring in on the ride to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday morning. Lewis rode in silence with teammate Brendon Ayanbadejo, partially reflecting on his career and what the significance of what his last game in Baltimore would be.

And like he typically has throughout his tenure with the Ravens, Lewis didn’t disappoint. He finished the day with 13 tackles and a pass deflection, one he should’ve had for an easy interception.

With the game on ice and the Ravens taking knees, the Baltimore fans began chanting, “We want Ray! We want Ray!” Ravens coach John Harbaugh then put Lewis in for the game’s final play as the safety in the victory formation. Once the ball was snapped, Lewis did the dance he does when he’s introduced in front of the home fans, something he learned from a childhood friend in his hometown of Lakeland, Fla.

When the game concluded, Lewis ran a victory lap around the stadium as fans stayed in their seats until the players completely left the field.

“There was probably no greater moment than seeing my kids, my mom, my dad, my family right there in the end of the end zone,” Lewis said. “That was probably when I lost it emotionally, because I knew that everything I have always done has always been for them.”

Lewis announced he was retiring at the end of this postseason on Wednesday, whenever that may be for the Ravens, who have now won a playoff game in each of the last five seasons.

For Lewis, he still has a shot at a second Super Bowl title if Baltimore continues winning.

“He’s a heck of a football player,” Harbaugh said. “It’s always so funny to hear people say, ‘Well, he’s not the same that he was 10 years ago.’ Well, who is?”

Though Lewis once again provided the emotional lift, it was Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger who provided the spark for the defense. Kruger finished the game with 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble, which was recovered by defensive end Pernell McPhee in the first quarter.

Kruger also added five quarterback hits of his own as he had his way with whoever he was matched up against.

“The game plan set up real nice and after we got off a little bit, it just set up real nice,” Kruger said. “Then the offense started throwing the ball a little bit and it was time for us to tee off.”

Though the defense gave up 419 total yards to a young Colts team, it held Indianapolis to just four scoring opportunities on field goals. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri made three of four kicks, accounting for all nine of the visiting team’s points.

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