Report Card Grades for Ray Lewis' Return from Injury

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2013

Report Card Grades for Ray Lewis' Return from Injury

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    Ray Lewis has played his final home game with the Baltimore Ravens. That's probably the most weighty sentence I've typed in my short sports-writing career.

    He's been the Baltimore Ravens' everything for the better part of two decades. His leadership and play have set the tone for defenses which were perennially ranked among the league's best.

    But did he play well against the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Round? Let's break it down.

Inspirational and Emotional Impact: A

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    Ray Lewis has been the heart and soul of this franchise since the Ravens moved to Baltimore.

    Fans were sure to arrive on time throughout Lewis' tenure so they wouldn't miss his famous entrance.

    For one last time, enjoy it. And know that there was no way his team could allow a loss with Lewis' career on the line. 

Rush Defense: B

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    Lewis racked up 13 tackles (only four of the assisted variety).

    While that's a lot of tackles, you didn't notice him blowing up the running game in the backfield. His name wasn't being exclaimed due to devastating hits.

    However, he wasn't missing. That's the most important part of being a linebacker, but you'd like to see him making more plays.

Pass Coverage: C

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    Unfortunately, Lewis did not shine in pass coverage.

    He dropped an easy interception that landed in his lap thanks to a line-of-scrimmage tip. For a man with 31 career interceptions, it was surprising.

    Lewis also didn't do well when shadowing Andrew Luck. A poor angle led to Luck getting outside for 15 yards on what could have been a crucial third down.

    The evolution of the league led Lewis to shed weight in the offseason. It was an effort to become better prepared to defend the pass. Yet, it's one of the few areas where his age can be exposed at times.

Defensive Intelligence and Leadership: A

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    When an offense is led by a quarterback who has studied the film and can recognize the defense based on the way it lines up, that offense rolls. The quarterback knows where he's going with the ball before the center snaps it.

    The same is true for a defense.

    Lewis routinely put his defense in the best place to succeed by communicating with his teammates. His leadership was evident as the defense put on one of its best performances of the season.