Deep thoughts: Long ball could carry Ravens to win

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013
Advertisement
;

On the other side of the ball, the Ravens' defense will be poised to hitch their emotions to middle linebacker Ray Lewis for the final stage of his last ride into retirement. The 37-year-old announced before Baltimore's first playoff game that he would quit when the Ravens ended their run, and since that time they've been played their best football of the year.

So has Lewis. He has a team-high 44 tackles during the playoffs after missing the previous 10 games with a torn right triceps.

"They're going to be up," San Francisco running back Frank Gore said. "Ray Lewis means a lot to that organization. He's been playing the game for a long time, he's probably the best at his position and guys love him."

Sure, the Ravens would love to win it for Lewis. But only one player on the roster owns a Super Bowl ring (Lewis), and the rest of the players are in it for themselves.

"There's no way in the world that you can imagine Torrey blocking better down the field because Ray is quitting," Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said. "There's no way in the world that (fullback) Vonta Leach is going to give that much more, knocking that linebacker in the hole. I believe if Ray was saying he was going to play another year, these guys would give us the same thing."

Ravens offensive linebacker Bobby Williams was asked why the Ravens are going to win.

"The spirit of the team is something special," he said. "Everybody works hard around the league. The 49ers work hard. But the spirit of this team is different."

After thumping Indianapolis at home and outlasting the top-seeded Broncos in double overtime, Baltimore disposed of host New England. Flacco, in succession, outplayed Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Now he goes up against second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is fleet of foot but short on experience.

Unless Kaepernick runs wild or connects repeatedly with Randy Moss, the self-proclaimed "greatest receiver ever to play this game," then big brother John Harbaugh will be the one smiling when shaking hands with little brother Jim, San Francisco's coach, as purple and black confetti falls from the roof of the Superdome.

PREDICTION: Ravens 24, 49ers 20.