Videos: Ray Lewis's real last dance will be in Ravens' loss to Broncos on Saturday
As Denver demonstrated during a 34-17 mid-December victory in Baltimore, the Ravens' once vaunted defense is not what it was in Lewis's prime. The squad was able to rattle Luck via blitz overloads that Denver QB Peyton Manning is more than capable of turning into big gains because of the open spaces they create, and which his quick release and legendary field vision is ideal for exploiting.
As such, the Ravens may well unleash the hounds on fewer occasions and opt for a base defense instead. But doing so will allow Manning the time he needs to check down and find open receivers and/or hand off to Knowshon Moreno, whose late-season surge has created the sort of balanced offensive attack Denver established prior to Willis McGahee's injury, to he unexpected delight of doubting fans like yours truly.
Defensively, meanwhile, the Broncos have a lot more weapons -- not just pass rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil (plus well-kept-secret Wesley Woodyard), but also a secondary anchored by Champ Bailey, who'll join Lewis in Canton five years after his retirement (several years from now, we hope), and bolstered by up-and-comers such as Chris Harris, a star in the making in our estimation.
That doesn't mean the Baltimore game will be a breeze. The team brings oodles of playoff experience and a lot of post-season wins, albeit usually in round one. But as long as the Broncos don't overlook the Ravens in light of a likely pairing against New England in the AFC championship game, they should find a way to send Lewis into his next life as an ESPN commentator less than a week from now. And a lack of focus isn't something Mr. Manning is going to allow.
Look below to see a clip of Lewis's first dance, a post-game interview and an ESPN analysis -- the first helping of a video buffet.
Continue for five more videos -- an interview with Manning after the defeat of the Ravens last month, Peyton's post-game press conference, a weird animated video by a disappointed Baltimore fan, veteran Raven Ed Reed admitting to frustration and an ESPN analysis.