Ray Lewis made his empathetic return to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round as Baltimore defeated the Indianapolis Colts, but does the team have what it takes to give Lewis a Super Bowl ring before he fades off into retirement?
The obvious plan for the Ravens, according to safety Ed Reed, is to win the Super Bowl for Lewis, as NFL.com revealed via Twitter:
Ed Reed on Ray Lewis: 'We want to take him all the way' on.nfl.com/ReedonLewis
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 6, 2013
Whether or not the Ravens actually have what it takes to win it all remains to be seen.
Baltimore disposed of the Colts easily enough, with Lewis playing a large role in the victory. He recorded 13 tackles in what appears to be his last home game with the Ravens.
The Ravens wound up winning 24-9, but things get much more difficult from this point forward.
Lewis and the Ravens now have a date with the No. 1 seed in the AFC in the Divisional Round, as the team has to travel to Mile High Stadium to take on the Denver Broncos.
The matchup is not a favorable one for the team, as the Broncos easily dispatched the Ravens in Week 15, 34-17.
Part of the issue in that game was the absence of Lewis. The defense allowed Knowshon Moreno to run wild for 115 yards. That will not happen again with the defense reinforced by Lewis.
Where the Ravens truly struggled against the Broncos the first time around was shutting down Peyton Manning and putting enough pressure on him to win the game. The Ravens defense gives up almost 230 yards per game through the air and only sacked Manning twice the last time the teams met.
Offensively, the Ravens are struggling as well. Quarterback Joe Flacco has been erratic most of the year. He looked great against a weakened Colts team in the Wild Card Round, but suffered mightily the last time the Ravens played the Broncos.
In that contest, Flacco struggled, completing just 50 percent of his passes and throwing two touchdowns once the game was all but decided.
The anchor for the offense in Baltimore continues to be running back Ray Rice, but he has found himself in a bit of a slump as of late. Rice has failed to reach the 100-yard mark in seven of his last nine games. He also only registered 70 yards against an average Colts team in the Wild Card Round.
For the Ravens to keep winning and get Lewis his ring, things are going to have to change. The picture the rest of the way is not pretty, as a matchup with the explosive New England Patriots could be looming if the Ravens can make it past the Broncos.
The journey begins in Denver, where the Ravens are a serious underdog. Having Lewis' leadership back could work wonders for Baltimore the rest of the way. It certainly helped against Indianapolis.
Even if Lewis does not reach the Super Bowl in what is now his final season, he has been there before with great success. Lewis was named the Super Bowl MVP with the Ravens in 2001.
It has been a Hall of Fame-worthy career for Lewis that is unfortunately coming to an end. He has had better shots at winning a Super Bowl in Baltimore before, but that last thing anyone should do it count him out this postseason.
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