Ray Lewis has told his Ravens teammates this season is his "last ride," and he'll retire after the playoffs. Because of the Texans' victory on Saturday afternoon, the Ravens cannot play again at home.
So how are the Ravens reacting to Lewis' final home game in Baltimore? Is the news overshadowing their preparation for the matchup against the Colts? Quite the opposite, according to Ravens running back Ray Rice, who told CBS Sports' Shannon Sharpe on The NFL Today that Lewis' decision to retire "put a lot of things in perspective."
"No, I think the news, what it did for us, it put a lot of things in perspective," Rice told Sharpe. "I don't think you'll see a guy out there on our football team that's not going to go out there and give 110 percent. Better yet, 150 percent. I don't think you're going to see a coach on this staff not go out there and try to call the best game they've ever called."
News that Lewis planned to retire was, of course, stunning. And nowhere was it more stunning than in the Ravens locker room, when the linebacker revealed his intentions after a pep talk.
"It was like the earth shook, and it got real quiet," Ravens defensive star Terrell Suggs said.
"It messed up my whole day," Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "I feel like I just took for granted that he was here, you know?"
Rice appears to have some perspective on what life will be like without Lewis, though, telling Sharpe that he thinks the whole "building" will be "different."
"When Ray Lewis is gone, this building is going to be different," Rice said. "So I think it puts it all in perspective to appreciate what you have while it's here."
Things will be different on the field, too. No matter how much Lewis' on-field game has slipped in the past year or so (and it has, even if people don't want to say it), everyone on the Ravens still understands what his presence -- and his introduction dance! -- does to opponents.
"You just know the amount of respect and some fear that Ray Lewis puts in other teams," Ngata said.
Lewis didn't disappoint on Sunday, either -- The NFL Today, quite smartly, showed his introduction. With U2 blaring over the stadium speakers, Lewis' name was called and the stadium flipped to Nelly's Hot in Herre as Lewis emerged from the smoking tunnel. The linebacker grabbed a piece of turf, smacked it on his chest and broke into his signature dance moves.
If you didn't get chills and/or goose bumps, you either have no soul or you're a Steelers fan. Lewis' intro is one of a kind, and that might very well have been the last time that we ever see it. Rice, speaking to Sharpe, summed it up best:
"Ain't nobody else ever going to come out of the tunnel like Ray Lewis."
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