Tag: Ray Lewis

Welcoming The Newest Ravens

Ravens-4.27Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

This quote has pretty much summed up the week of Ravens news. After losing nine starters (six of which were on the defensive side of the ball), they make a huge play in free agency. After being cut by the Broncos after a contract faxing went awry, the Ravens swooped in and signed Elvis Dumervil to a five-year contract for $35 million.

The veteran pass rusher has been brought in to replace Paul Kruger, and he will do a bang up job of it too. Dumervil has 65.5 sacks in his nine seasons, while Kruger has 15.5 in four years.

Dumervil will be added to a pass rushing corps featuring the likes of Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, along with the new additions of Chris Canty and Marcus Spears who were picked up earlier in the free agency blitz.

While the front seven is getting major upgrades, the Ravens still have a few needs in other places. For starters, the need major depth at linebacker with Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe departing, and they will need replacements at safety with Ed Reed’s signing in Houston. And with 12 draft picks, the Ravens can easily fill the holes they have.

To say that they will not make the playoffs while it is still MARCH is a little bit brash. Expect the Ravens to be competitive.

In other news: The Ravens will NOT be opening the NFL season at home (unlike the last ten Super Bowl victors). The NFL, MLB, Ravens, White Sox, and Orioles where unable to come to an agreement on how to fit both Birds in Baltimore on September 5th. So instead, the Ravens will make their opener on the road, which will most likely be in Denver.

And just as a “for the record” type thing, this situation is NOT the Orioles fault. They had the parking lot first, and I am really glad they did not let themselves get bullied by the NFL.

Storybook Season Gets a Storybook Ending: Ravens are World Champs!

Ravens-Win-in-NOLA

Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

Baltimore, MD – You could not write a better ending for the last ride of Ray Lewis. Becoming a Super Bowl champion after making one last goal line stand to win the game? It is the stuff of legend, made a reality Sunday night.

The 10-6 Baltimore Ravens pulled off what nearly everybody said was impossible. They beat the “unstoppable” offense of the 49ers and brought the Lombardi back to Baltimore for the second time. Not even a freak power outage can stop the team of destiny on their path to glory.

The Ravens came out strong, drawing first blood with a Joe Flacco touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. That would be the first of three touchdowns thrown by the Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco, last night. He would throw one to Pitta and another miracle bomb to Jacoby Jones in the 2nd quarter. Putting the Ravens up 21-6 going into halftime “part one” (more on that in a second). The Ravens put up a strong performance for the first half.

They had all the momentum leading into Beyonce’s halftime show, and for the first minute and a half after it. Jacoby Jones returned a beautiful 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown (Gardener’s Furniture made a bet saying that if the Ravens returned either the opening or the second half kickoff for a touchdown, any and all furniture bought before 3 PM on Sunday was free. Whoops). It was 28-6 at the start of the second half and it looked like the Ravens were going to have just as easy of a win as they did in 2001.

Some could say they were playing “light’s out”.

Then the lights actually went out (forgive that terrible pun). Nobody really knows how, or why, but they did. And that moment changed the tempo of the game. Instead of continuing to pound the 49ers, they got a 35-minute half time “part two” to regroup and catch their breath. Shifting the momentum from purple and black to the burgundy and gold. And it showed. They scored 17 unanswered points in what was probably the worst 3rd quarter I have ever witnessed. But the 3rd quarter doesn’t matter.

Games are won in the 4th quarter (or the 6th if you are in Denver).

Continuing their drive from the 3rd quarter, the Ravens finally got back on the board with a field goal from Justin Tucker. It was now 31-23. San Francisco answered with a drive that ended in Colin Kapernick running 15 yards for the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. The 49ers needed the two point conversion to tie, and thanks to Ed Reed getting in Kapernick’s face, they did not get it. 31-29 and the Ravens are desperately holding on. They would get one last field goal to make it 34-29 in the last two minutes of the game.

This would be the point where I should have asked my father why we did not have a family cardiologist.

The 49ers marched down the field and got to the five yard line to wind the clock down to the two minute warning. It was second and goal.

My heart has never beat so fast.

Ray Lewis’ last series would be a goal line stand for the Lombardi trophy. First was a pass that incomplete in the end zone. Exhale. 3rd down. They tried to air it out again to Michael Crabtree who got crushed by Jimmy Smith, knocking the ball incomplete. No exhaling this time. It was down to this.
4th down. This was it.

San Francisco snaps the ball. Passes is up to Crabtree again. Incomplete! Exhale.

Hugs were shared between my family and I, but we all knew it was not over yet. With just over 1:45 left on the clock, the Ravens did all they could do to wind the clock down. They pounded the ball on the ground and force the 49ers to use their last timeout. Two more unsuccessful runs brought up 4th and long.

This is where the Ravens got real crafty. They hike the ball to Sam Koch in the end zone and he keeps it in the backfield to keep the clock running. As time ticks away, Koch is dancing to avoid being tackled and runs out of the end zone to take the safety and leave the 49ers with four seconds on the clock. That special teams brilliance was a far cry from the gaffed fake field goal in the first half.

The Ravens punt the ball away and shut down the return to seal the victory. 34-31. CBS cut to a shot of Ray Lewis embracing Ed Reed (who was ridiculously giddy about winning the Super Bowl in his home town) and Terrell Suggs. Chykie Brown was making confetti angels.

Joe Flacco was MVP (pay the man already) and Ray Lewis was hoisting the Lombardi trophy for his last game. Ever. There really couldn’t be a better ending to this season of ups and downs.

It was surreal at first: the fact that my birds had won the Super Bowl. That idea really set in on Monday morning when I picked up my copy of The Baltimore Sun and “CHAMPIONS” was plastered on the front. I have been grinning ever since. All the haters, doubters, pundits, and analysts were all proven wrong. Baltimore was the real deal. Baltimore deserved respect. Baltimore had earned this victory. And that victory was so sweet. I did not sleep that much Sunday night. But the loss of sleep was so worth it. So, so, so worth it.

Hail to the Ravens!

The Last Dance

Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Correspondent

Baltimore, MD – It was a bittersweet day walking into M&T Bank Stadium yesterday. Everybody was walking in knowing what to expect, but not really prepared to face the hard truth, this was the last time they were going to see Ray Lewis dance out of the tunnel and play in M&T Bank Stadium.

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It was the most crowded I have ever seen the stadium before the game, most of the 71,284 attendees were in their seats ten minutes before the game to make sure they did not miss Ray coming out of the tunnel. The Indianapolis Colts were introduced coming onto the field, meeting a mix of cheers and booing, the former for Coach Chuck Pagano and the latter for the team many believed were stolen from Baltimore. After that was over an announcement came over the loudspeaker, “Ladies and gentlemen, here. Come. THE RAVENS!” and the crowd went berserk. The offense and back up defensive players made a tunnel for the starting defensive players. Name after name was called met with cheering and clapping from the crowd for their beloved defense as per usual, “Terrence Cody”, “Haloti Ngata”, “Terrell Suggs”. Most of the players kept their usual celebrations short, Terrell Suggs especially. Instead of walking into the crowd of his teammates flapping his arms like wings and then standing in the middle and raising his arms, he walked half way, looked back at the tunnel then ran the rest of the way. Then Ed Reed ran out putting his index finger to his lips and pointed back at the tunnel. The moment had arrived, they showed Ray in the tunnel on the big screen, on his hands and knees, head on the floor, saying a prayer before running out.

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“Thirteen-time pro-bowler…,” the crowd begins to cheer, “two-time defensive player of the year…,” the noise level goes from a dull roar to an all out frenzy of sound, “number fifty-two. RAY. LEWIS.” In that moment, it was the loudest I have ever heard M&T Bank Stadium get. Lewis did the dance that got me into football and was met by hugs and high-fives from the other 52 men on the roster. There was not a single dry eye in the stadium after that. Every person in that stadium was ready to do what ever they had to to give the man a win in his last home game, players and fans alike. Whenever Lewis’ face would appear on the big screen the crowd would cheer and scream. They wanted to send the man that had been there literally since the beginning of the franchise off right, and let him know how much what he had done for Baltimore football meant to them.

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At the end of the day, Lewis notched a team leading 13 tackles, and was instrumental in holding the Colts to only three field goals. Lewis walked off the field after the last defensive series with his good friend Ed Reed and was met by more high-fives and hugs from the coaching staff. He thought he had played his last series at M&T Bank Stadium. He was in the process of taking off his pads when head coach John Harbaugh told him to put his pads back on. With thirty-five seconds on the clock, referee Micheal Carrie announced “Number fifty-two is declaring eligible.” Ray Lewis’ last down of football in M&T Bank was played on offense as a running back. And as Joe Flacco took a knee to run the clock out and win the game, Lewis did one last dace at mid-field. One last Squirrel, met by a chant of “Thank you, Ray” and monumental cheering. He did a “Ripken Victory Lap” around the field (like Cal Ripken did when he retired, hence the name) thanking all the fans that had supported him over his 17 year career.

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Though it was Lewis’ final home game, the number of games he has left in his career is still to be determined. The Ravens face off against Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver on Saturday at 4:30 PM. From there the Ravens would advance to their third AFC Championship in five years against the winner of the Patriots-Texans game held on Sunday at 1 PM.

Overall, the entire game was a surreal experience for me. It was hard to comprehend that this was the last time I get to see Ray Lewis play in person. As many people have said on radio call-ins and comments on articles about Lewis, he was an inspiration to the players, coaches, and fans. There will be no one like him, and I look forward to listening to his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in five years. But for now, I am excited to watching my favorite team make a run for the Super Bowl, more emotionally charged than ever.

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The general vibe of the players status updates, interviews, and tweets after the game that I read on the way home from the stadium all said one thing: “We have to get to Louisiana, for him.” Expect inspired football from number 52 and the men in purple over the next few weeks as they make a run for Louisiana.

Raven Ray Lewis to Retire At the End of the Season

Words: Kyle Simpson

Baltimore, MD – I have been alive for 17 years. As a Ravens fan, I have never experienced a team without Ray Lewis either on the field or on the sideline. The number 52 has become synonymous with Baltimore football over the last 17 years, but following this year’s playoff run it will be the last time Ray Lewis steps on the football field as a player. The Raven that I had grown up with is retiring.

Lewis was an inspiration to his teammates, family, and fans. Not only professionally (although having 13 Pro Bowls and the titles of Super Bowl MVP and Defensive Player of the Year do gain you more than a little credibility), but personally as well. He more often than not would lead the team in a pregame huddle that would fill the team with a fire to do what was necessary to win, preaching about sacrifice and not playing for yourself, but for your team. He was also vocal after a loss, most noticeably after the AFC Championship last year when the Ravens Super Bowl hopes were dashed by a dropped catch and missed field goal. He said “We did what we had to do, we did all we were supposed to do, now it’s our job to make sure we finish it next time.”

Lewis cited the main reason of his retirement in the press conference held early today as he just wanted to be with his kids as his oldest son got a full ride to the University of Miami. Lewis vowed to be there to watch his son play football and break the generational cycle of fathers abandoning their children that he had been exposed to as a boy. “My children have made the ultimate sacrifice for the last 17 years, it’s my turn to sacrifice for them.”

As of now, this Sunday at one o’clock will be the very last time Ray Lewis steps on M&T Bank Stadium’s turf as a Raven. The only way the Ravens can host his last potential AFC Championship game is if the Cincinnati Bengals win all of their slated playoff games (which would be Houston then Denver, both away) and the Ravens have to go through the Colts at home, then play away at New England. “We’ve got to battle for that, we’ve got to get to Louisiana for him,” stated Ravens’ Safety Bernard Pollard.

Ray has my best wishes going forward and eternal gratitude for showing me what life is really about, he will never know the way he touched so many lives by just speaking his mind. There will never be anybody like him to ever put on shoulder pads. And while his retirement does not come as a complete shock, it is still heartbreaking nonetheless. 52 forever, Ravens Nation.

“I want to live long after my records have fallen, long after my rings have tarnished. And whatever you got to do, to chase your legacy every second of your life. Will you be remembered, how will you be remembered, why wouldn’t you fight for the greatest achievement ever? Leave. Your. Mark. To endure. Forever.”- Ray Lewis

Photo used with permission from Keith Allison