The Ravens can’t help but wonder why this had to be so difficult.
In a Super Bowl with so many electric athletes, how could the lights go out in the Superdome at such an inopportune time?
How could this happen when Baltimore owned all the momentum? How could somebody pull the plug in the third quarter and short-circuit the Ravens on the way to a championship?
Hey, stuff happens.
So the Ravens did what real NFL teams do: They went ahead and beat San Francisco anyway.
Maybe they won it for inside linebacker Ray Lewis in the final game of his 17-year career. Or maybe they won it simply because this is a franchise built on a foundation of physical toughness and mental strength.
A Baltimore rout became a game of resolve before the Ravens finally prevailed 34-31.
So what came first, the Ravens or the Ray-vens?
Maybe the answer is that Lewis and his team are a function of each other, considering he was its first-ever draft choice after Baltimore stole the franchise from Cleveland.
The AFC North is the rock ’em, sock ’em division the NFC North used to be. Likewise the Ravens and the division rival Steelers are what the Bears once were and would like to be again.
The Ravens like to bully opponents and the Bears haven’t had that kind of team since their 1985 champions broke up for good in the early 1990s.
Complimenting Lewis these days isn’t in fashion outside of Baltimore and network television.
He cavalierly invokes the name of God. The double murder he was involved in 13 years ago is tragic. The allegation last week that he used banned substances is unsettling.
Nobody has to like or even respect Lewis, but it’s difficult to deny his influence on the Ravens and the entire NFL. Several snapshots of the Super Bowl illustrated the singular bold, daring personality of him and his team.
Leading 14-3 in the second quarter, the Ravens disdained a 2-touchdown lead by faking a short field goal and failing to make the first down.
Jacoby Jones refused to down the second-half kickoff and instead took it a record-tying 108 yards for a TD.
Joe Flacco finally stamped himself an elite quarterback after GM Ozzie Newsome made him his quarterback of the future from Delaware.
It’s all symbolic of an attitude the Ravens and Lewis have, starting with Lewis wanting to punish opponents and his teammates agreeing.
Lewis also wants to show off with crazy dances and the Ravens want to show off along with him.
He wants to talk the talk and they want to walk his talk.
The Ravens’ approach doesn’t win the Super Bowl every year, though they did beat the Giants in one 12 seasons ago. Baltimore and Lewis essentially have been in contention just about every season since.
When the Ravens won their first championship, they did it with nearly all defense and the pedestrian Trent Dilfer at quarterback.
This time the Ravens under John Harbaugh needed Flacco, Lewis and all the resolve they all could muster to beat San Francisco, which under Jim Harbaugh has become the West Coast Ravens in style and substance.
While the Ravens bullied the Giants, the 49ers wouldn’t be bullied. San Francisco made the game as difficult for Baltimore as the power outage did but the Ravens won anyway.
Sometimes that’s how champions have to become champions.
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