Senior NFL Columnist

After Further Review: Ravens' Lewis playing well, but stats inflated

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The fawning over the postseason play of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been over the top.

Lewis has been credited with 44 tackles in three playoff games, the most since Carolina's Dan Morgan had 45 in 2003.

But has he really been that good? I wanted to find out. I had an idea those tackle numbers were inflated a little, and I also wanted to see where he was making those tackles.

So I studied every defensive snap the Ravens have played in the postseason. I didn't just watch the plays where he was credited with tackles because I wanted to see if perhaps he deserved some on other plays.

The easy way to describe what I saw is that Lewis is still a decent player, capable of making a few big plays now and then, but he isn't what you would expect from a guy with 44 tackles in three games.

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His best game of the postseason came against the Broncos in the divisional round. He was credited with 17 tackles but actually had 14, including 10 solo tackles. In the Indianapolis game, he was credited with 13 tackles but had nine. Against New England in the AFC Championship Game, he was credited with 14 and I had him with 10.

So the numbers are inflated. Some of that is from Lewis getting credit for diving on piles. When in doubt, give Ray an assist.

The other thing I wanted to study was how far down the field was he making those solo tackles. In the three games, he had 28 solo tackles for 177 yards. That means the average gain on his solo tackles was 6.3 yards -- not that impressive. He had two tackles for loss in the three games, and one of his solo tackles was a 2-yard gain by Tom Brady on a scramble when Lewis just fell on top of him after Brady fell down.

There are highlight moments when you think it's the old Ray Lewis, but for the most part he has been solid and nothing special. In fact, I would say Dannell Ellerbe, the Ravens' other inside linebacker, has been better.

So as we ready for Super Bowl XLVII, and many of the talking heads slobber over Lewis, just take a look at this and you might think differently.

Here's a look at every tackle credited to Lewis in the playoffs with some pictures.

Wild-card round: vs. Colts

Lewis was credited with nine solos and four assists for 13 tackles.

1. Lewis started his playoff run with his best play of this game. He knifed through the Colts' line to drop Vick Ballard for a 1-yard loss on a run blitz. It was by far his best play of the postseason. Here's a look at Lewis (yellow circle) making the play.



2. On a 6-yard run by Ballard, Lewis was credited with an assist. But Courtney Upshaw made the play and Lewis dove on top.

3. Lewis got credit for an assist on a 7-yard run by Ballard, but it was Ellerbe and others who made the play. Lewis dove on the pile again. That's Lewis in the red. You can see he isn't making the play. He is in the red circle as Ellerbe and others bring down Ballard (blue circle).



4. Lewis got credit for an assist on a 3-yard scramble by Andrew Luck, but he really missed his tackle. Two other Ravens put him down.

5. Colts tight end Dwayne Allen caught a 22-yard pass in the middle of the field. Lewis loafed a little after the catch, thinking a teammate would tackle Allen, but he rallied to help pull him down. He was credited with an assist along with corner Cary Williams.

6. On the very next play, Lewis was credited with an assist along with Upshaw even though two other Ravens had Ballard on the ground before Lewis jumped on the pile.

7. Lewis tackled tight end Coby Fleener for 7 yards late in the first half. He was credited with a solo, and that was correct.

8. Lewis was credited with a solo tackle on Ballard for a 3-yard gain and he made the play in the hole.

9. Lewis was credited with an assist on a 6-yard run by Ballard, but he should have been given a solo tackle. He was blocked early, but came off the block to tackle Ballard.

10. Made a solo stop on Mewelde Moore after a 6-yard gain. That was accurate.

11. Got a solo tackle in coverage after Allen caught a pass for 9 yards.

12. Made a solo tackle on Donnie Avery after a 7-yard slant.

13. Made a solo tackle on Fleener after a 12-yard pass play.

Game summary: Lewis really had nine solo tackles. But he didn't have any assists. Those nine tackles came a combined 74 yards down the field, an average of 8.2 yards per play. Lewis also had a dropped pick in the game. His first play, knifing in to drop Ballard for a 1-yard loss, looked like the old Ray Lewis.

Divisional round: at Broncos

Lewis was credited with 17 tackles, including 10 solo tackles.

1. Lewis tackled Knowshon Moreno for a 3-yard gain in the hole, showing off his old quickness. Nice play.

2. Lewis tackled Moreno for an 8-yard gain on the right sideline. He had to go a long way to get there, but probably doesn't get there unless Ellerbe grabs Moreno's facemask, which he was penalized for doing.

3. Lewis made a nice solo tackle on Brandon Stokley for a 3-yard gain on a crossing route. He dropped into his zone and exploded up the field to get Stokley.

4. Lewis made a solo tackle on Ronnie Hillman for a 6-yard gain after initially getting blocked by guard Chris Kuper.

5. Lewis got an assist on an 11-yard run by Hillman when he dove from behind at his feet to get a piece of the tackle. He was way out of the play to help open up the room for Hillman to run.

6. Lewis made a one-on-one tackle on a short pass to Jacob Hester for a 7-yard gain.

7. On the next play, second-and-3, Lewis tackled Hester for a 2-yard gain, running him down on the outside. That was a vintage Lewis play as you can see from the pictures below.



8. Assisted Ed Reed on a 5-yard run by Moreno. Lewis made a solid play to shed the guard and get in on the tackle.

9. On a third-and-5 play, Lewis was given an assist on a 2-yard run by Hester but Pernell McPhee made the play along with Ellerbe.

10. Lewis made another impressive play when Hillman tried to bounce a run outside to the left and Lewis scraped down the line, exploded to chase him down for a 3-yard loss. That was one of his best plays of the postseason. You can see Lewis (yellow circle) scraping outside to make the play.



11. Lewis got an assist on a 3-yard run by Hillman. The play was actually made by defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson.

12. Lewis got an assist on an 11-yard pass to Hillman. He was beat to the outside on the play and recovered to make the tackle. It's hard to tell, but he might have deserved credit for a solo.

13. Lewis tackled Hillman for a 5-yard gain. He actually overran the play, but was able to recover to make a solo tackle.

14. On a 2-yard run by Hillman, Lewis was credited with an assist, but Hillman appeared down by the time Lewis jumped on the pile.

15. Lewis assisted Ma'ake Kemoetu to top Hillman on a 1-yard run.

16. Lewis assisted Williams on a 5-yard pass to Hillman.

17. Lewis got a solo tackle on Hillman 9 yards down the field. He was blocked on the play initially, but was able to chase down Hillman on the other side of the field.

Game summary: This was by far Lewis' best game of the playoffs -- maybe even the past two years. Lewis had 10 solos and four assists for 14 tackles, not 17. The 10 solo tackles came 57 yards down the field for a 5.7 average -- the lowest he had in the postseason so far. He had several impact plays in this game, showing off his old Ray Lewis speed.

AFC title game: at Patriots

Lewis was credited with 14 tackles, eight solos and six assists.

1. Lewis was credited with a solo tackle on a 3-yard run by Stevan Ridley. As you can see by the picture below, the tackle was made already and he jumped onto the pile. It wasn't his play. Ridley (white circle), as you can see, is already tackled before Lewis (red circle) is even near him.


2. Lewis was credited with an assist on a pass play to Aaron Hernandez, but all he did was jump on the pile. Ellerbe knocked Hernandez down well before Lewis dove on. Take a look. Lewis is in the yellow circle as Ellerbe took Hernandez to the ground.



3. Lewis was credited with an assist on a 1-yard run by Ridley, but it was Terrell Suggs who made the play. Lewis came in late and should not have been credited with an assist.

4. Lewis did get a solo tackle on Shane Vereen, but it came 7 yards down the field after he was blocked early in the play. He did a nice job coming off the block.

5. He was credited with a solo tackle on a pass completion for 8 yards to Hernandez, and that was accurate. But he was penalized 15 yards for hitting with his helmet, which was an accurate call.

6. Hernandez had another 8-yard completion, and Lewis and Suggs were credited with assists. I think Lewis deserved a solo here.

7. On a quick out to Brandon Lloyd, Lewis made one of his best plays of the game to get out and hold it to a 3-yard gain. He was credited with an assist, but he made the solo tackle.

8. He made another solo tackle a little later on an 8-yard run by Ridley. Lewis was blocked on the play, but came off to make it down the field.

9. He got credit for a solo tackle when Brady ran into the official and fell down and Lewis fell on top of him for 2-yard gain.

10. Lewis had a solo tackle on a 5-yard draw by Ridley.

11. Lewis was credited with an assist on a 9-yard run by Ridley. He took a false step on the play and had to scramble to even get a piece of it.

12. Ridley was held without anything on a second-down play and Lewis was given an assist along with Suggs. But it was Suggs who made the play coming down the line. Lewis jumped on late.

13. One of the best plays Lewis made came on third down. Ridley picked up 2 yards, but Lewis knifed through to make a solo tackle.

14. Wes Welker caught a 13-yard pass in front of Lewis late in the game and Lewis was credited with an assist. He should have been given a solo tackle.

Game summary: Lewis was credited with 14 total tackles, eight solos and six assists. I have him for nine solo tackles and one assist.

That might sound better, but consider this: One of those solos came jumping on Brady when he fell down, and the shortest gain on any of them other than that 2-yard gain was 3 yards. Take away the Brady fall, and Lewis' eight other solo tackles were 54 yards down field. That means they averaged 6.75 yards per play.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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