Not too long ago, Ray Lewis was out of the lineup with a triceps injury, and it seemed like there was a chance he would never play in the NFL again.
Instead, Lewis will finish his illustrious career on the biggest stage, in his first Super Bowl since winning the Super Bowl MVP award at the end of the 2000 season. He will have a chance to finish his career like John Elway, Michael Strahan and Jerome Bettis did, as a champion.
As well as Lewis has played in these playoffs, it's fair to wonder if he'll have any second thoughts about his retirement over the offseason, even though he seemed like he was completely at peace with that decision when he announced it.
[Slideshow: Ravens top Pats to set up Harbaugh Bowl]
Lewis, 37, tore his right triceps on Oct. 14 against Dallas. That's an injury that is usually season ending, and Lewis didn't play again in the regular season. But he came back for the Ravens' first playoff game, wearing a huge brace on his injured arm. He had 13 tackles, danced before and at the end of the win against the Colts, and it seemed like a fitting sendoff to Lewis, who will be inducted in Canton when he's eligible.
But he, and the Ravens, weren't done.
Lewis had 17 tackles in an upset win against Denver last week. He led the Ravens again in tackles this week, picking up eight as Baltimore amazingly shut out Tom Brady and the Patriots in the second half of a 28-13 win. Much like Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez, who appears set on retiring despite being among the best at his position, Lewis, a linebacker who piles up 38 tackles in three playoff games, doesn't seem to be at the end of the line as a productive NFL player. Lewis' comeback from a torn triceps hasn't been just for show - he has been a major key to this run to the AFC championship.
[Slideshow: Ray Lewis' retirement run]
According to ESPN, Brady was 67-0 at home in his career when leading at halftime. The Ravens won at Denver when they had almost no chance in the final minute of the fourth quarter last week. But those odds weren't too long for Baltimore, especially led by a linebacker who beat the odds to play again this season, much less finish his career in a Super Bowl.
"To see us here today holding this trophy, God is absolutely amazing," Lewis said during the postgame trophy presentation on CBS.
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