Two days later — With Ray Lewis out, a glimpse to the future wasn’t so bright

November 22, 2011 | Drew Forrester

Someday — sooner than later, unfortunately — what you saw last Sunday vs. the Bengals will be more the norm than the exception.

And then maybe we’ll all completely appreciate the greatness of Ray Lewis.

Until then, though, we’ll just take moments like Sunday’s affair with the Bengals and appreciate the fact that we haven’t had to deal with many of those over the last 15 years.

But when it happens, when Ray is gone, things are going to be a lot different.

We saw that first-hand on Sunday in the 4th quarter when a rookie quarterback and a handful of not-so-common-names disguised as wide receivers gave the Ravens defense fits before finally falling short on the final series.

Would that have happened with Ray Lewis out on the field?

I doubt it.

Ray’s human — and throughout his career, there have been a few fourth quarter rallies at the expense of his defense, but they sure don’t come around much.  And I can’t imagine the Bengals would have buzzed around like “Air Coryell” in the 4th quarter if #52 would have been able to play on Sunday.

I’ve said this before, and even though it’s a simple statement, it rings true every Sunday when I watch Ray Lewis play football. We’ll never see anyone like him again.  At least not in my lifetime.  And the Ravens – as a team – will go through an eye-opening changing of the guard when Lewis isn’t around anymore.

You’ll see a lot more 31-24 Ravens games and a lot less 17-13 results.

Every player on the defense is better when Ray Lewis plays.  Even now, 15 years in, Lewis is still the man.  Every Wednesday when he meets with the media, Lewis always get in at least one or two “when I look at my defense” quotes…to remind everyone that it is, in fact, still HIS defense.  But something odd happens when Lewis says “my defense”.  He never emphasizes the word “my”, the way you might expect someone who is trying to remind everyone of his established role as the leader of the group.  The words “my defense” roll off his tongue with the same simplicity that you would say “where are my car keys?”

It’s still Ray’s defense.

And as we saw on Sunday afternoon, the longer it remains his defense, the better chance the Ravens have of winning.

Once he’s gone, those chances will diminish greatly.

So enjoy this while you can.