Once upon a time, there was a linebacker who could make any tackle at any time, anywhere on the field. Every time a running back went up against this linebacker’s defense, he/she (Eddie George retro-diss) knew that it could be the last game they every played. Such was the skill, athleticism, and intensity that Ray Lewis has brought to the Ravens defense over the course of his fabled career.
My friend Hipster is right to say that Ray Lewis is not the same player he once was–the inevitable difference between a 28 year old and a 34 year old–but this dog still has plenty of hunt left in him. Though he may not be the sideline-to- sideline force that he was in years past, Ray-Ray is still undoubtedly the centerpiece of the Ravens defense. Hipster pointed out a really bad missed tackle on Ray’s part, but consider the fact that, when he missed that tackle, he was basically playing on one leg instead of sitting out and, when he was on the bench, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown started averaging about 10 yards per carry. And let’s not forget Ray’s hit on Tom Santi, when, let’s be honest, if the Colts don’t fumble that ball, we probably all could have stopped watching the game and headed over to the Purple Patio an hour early to drown our sorrows.
Ray Lewis certainly isn’t the same every down force that he was earlier in his career, but even a shell of that young Ray Lewis is still one of the top linebackers in the league and capable of making game-changing plays at any time. Baltimore fans are spoiled by the way Ray Lewis used to play; the fact alone that we freak out when he misses a single tackle shows just how great Ray still is. I don’t think any other linebacker in history (correct me if I’m wrong) has been held to such high standards this late in his career, and Ray Lewis continues to rise to the occasion every Sunday.
As an aside, I’d like to discourage Baltimore commenters and bloggers from commenting on Ray Lewis’s legal troubles. As someone who constantly trolls NFL message boards defending Ray’s honor against libelous allegations from Steelers fans, the last thing we need is Baltimoreans adding fuel to the fire. No face no case!