By Samuel Njoku
The storylines in this game are massive. The emotion for this contest will be at an all-time high. And the chance to move on to the divisional round of the postseason stare in front of two teams that will put it all on the line. The Indianapolis Colts fight for a head coach that has just finished a lengthy battle with leukemia. Coach Chuck Pagano will fight with his team in familiar territory just one year removed from coaching the Ravens vaunted defense.
“It’s going to be special,” stated. “I love all those guys. I have great relationships with so many people in that organization. They were so good to me and my family. I wouldn’t be sitting where I’m at today if John Harbaugh hadn’t given me the opportunity to join him when he first was hired as a head football coach there.”
Pagano’s fight is admirable indeed. The Ravens players will gravitate towards him during pre-game warm ups. But this game has shifted focus to one man. Future hall of fame linebacker Ray Lewis announced his retirement on Wednesday and shocked the football world in the process. A lot of tears have been shed inside the castle the past few days because they know that the game on Sunday will be Ray’s last inside M&T Bank Stadium.
“[Ray Lewis] has always hinted that one day he is going to close the chapter on this game,” stated Ray Rice. “But today, I definitely didn’t prepare for it. Mentally, he has raised me over the last couple of years. My locker is right next to his, and I just can’t picture Baltimore without him.”
The fans can’t picture Baltimore without Ray Lewis either as the mood on social media sites has been somber. But with all the emotion involved in this contest, this game will come down to X’s and O’s. Baltimore has the tools to dominate in this game if they can get in sync quickly. The Ravens defense is not what it was. Even an emotion filled performance by them won’t mask the deficiencies they possess. That’s why this game will come down to the performance of the offense.
If Ray Rice can get it going early and give Flacco a potent play action game to work with, Baltimore will run away with this one. If Rice is held in check, this game will be a little to close for comfort. The edge in this contest has to go to Baltimore however. Ray Lewis doesn’t seem like he’ll accept anything less than a victory.
“I’ve played the game at a very, very high level and a very rough pace,” stated Lewis. “But for me to be where I am standing as a man now and to make my own declaration and say it’s time for me to go on, then I make this last run with my team. I give them everything I’ve got. That’s one thing I shared with them in that meeting: ‘I am going to give you everything that I’ve got, because this is our last one.’ And wherever it ends, it ends. But, I didn’t come back for it to end in the first round.”
Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.