Once a follower, Lewis returns as leader

Once a follower, Lewis returns as leader
January 29, 2013, 5:45 pm
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In between Super Bowl trips, Lewis has grown into a legendary leader

When Ray Lewis last came to the Super Bowl -- the Ravens’ only other appearance in 12 years ago -- things were a lot different.

They had one of the NFL’s greatest defenses in trouncing the New York Giants 34-7. Lewis, who is the unquestioned leader of the 2012 Ravens, was named the MVP.

“I was more of a follower,” said Lewis, who turned pro in 1996. “I had Shannon (Sharpe) leading the way the whole time and really just following his lead, listening to Rod (Woodson). I was up under their coattails.

“Now, coming back this time, it’s kind of different. … I come back as a leader this time.”

The Ravens have rallied around him to make an improbable run to face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Lewis tore his right triceps in Week 6 and was put on the injured list for the rest of the regular season. He announced his 17th season would be his last before returning for a 24-9 wild-card playoff win vs. the Indianapolis Colts.

Then the Ravens went on the road to upset the No. 1 seed Denver Broncos and No. 2 New England Patriots to get here.

Lewis has played every snap. He has an NFL-high 44 tackles in the postseason. That it will be his last game is irrelevant right now.

“I have already put it aside. I promise you that is the last thing on my mind. Is this the last? Is this the last? The most important thing for me is to be the leader that I am for my team, and really go out and try to win this football game. …

“We have to finish what we started the whole year. That was one thing when we came here in 2000, there were so many guys who were so dialed in and so focused. It’s the same thing I am trying to spread to this team. What is our focus? Why are we really here in New Orleans? I know it’s a lot of things going on, there are a lot of things you could be doing outside, but the bottom line is that we are here for a business trip.”