Chapter 17: The Last Ride of 52

July 02, 2018 | Nestor Aparicio

you. I told my guys, ‘I’m not rooting for him, but if that whole deal didn’t get you excited – for ‘em or against ‘em – you didn’t have a pulse. I told my young guys to make sure they watch it because it’ll never be the same when he’s gone. It was a piece of history. Why would you wanna miss it?”

Lewis had a word with Ed Reed who preceded him into the bowl and then the explosion occurred when No. 52 rubbed the grass and dirt on his chest and did his patented “Squirrel Dance” to the delight of 70,000 in Baltimore as a declaration of battle with the Indianapolis Colts.

On a cold, sunny January day, the game was scoreless in the first quarter with both teams trading turnovers without damage. Ray Rice fumbled on a hit by former teammate Cory Redding and Ravens defensive end Paul Kruger knocked the ball out of the hands of Luck, and Pernell McPhee landed on the ball. Both ended with punts.

Flacco drove the Ravens into the red zone on the next possession, but the drive ended at the 5 and Justin Tucker kicked a 23-yard field goal to give Baltimore the lead. The Colts answered with a 47-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri. In the two-minute offense, Flacco hit Rice in the flat and he ran, San Diego-style through the Colts defense for 47 yards before being pulled down at the 2. Vonta Leach pushed in the first touchdown of the game and the Ravens took a 10-3 lead.

Luck got the ball back with 50 seconds remaining on his own 20 and masterfully took the Colts 46 yards in seven plays allowing Vinatieri to hit a 52-yarder to make the score 10-6 at the half. This wasn’t going to be easy.

It was a playoff game full of early nerves and jitters. Even Lewis showed his nervous energy in the second quarter, finding himself back on the Baltimore bench after dropping a sure interception in the middle of the field – twice! Luck hit him between the 5 and the 2 near midfield, and Lewis bobbled it once and flailed to the ground trying to upend it again as it hit the turf to groans.

“I would’ve scored,” a frustrated yet laughing Lewis told Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams on the bench. “That was a gift, wasn’t it? That was a Happy New Year! It was like I was going to catch it again. I owe you guys one for that one.”

The second half turned into the Anquan Boldin show, as Flacco connected five times with his veteran receiver for 145 yards on the day, including passes of 35 and 15 yards on the second possession of the third quarter that ended with a 20-yard TD pass to Dennis Pitta that stretched the lead to 17-6.

Vinatieri hit a 26-yard field goal and missed a 40-yarder, wide to the right opening the door for the Ravens once again. Running back Bernard Pierce barreled through the Colts defense on a 39-run, and Boldin caught an 18-yard TD pass from Flacco with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter. Flacco put a lot of air under the ball and threw it high where Boldin stabbed it out of the air to all but ice the game. After the catch he found Boldin on the side line. “Hey, ‘Q, way to go get that baby,” Flacco said with a high five. “That’s how we do it!” The Colts were running out of Luck and time, now down 24-9 with 9:14 remaining.

The Ravens played solid defense the rest of the way.

“What a glorious day!” Ray Lewis said to Harbaugh on the sideline.

“Praise you God,” Harbaugh said with a hug. “Praise you Lord!”

“He’s awesome man,” Lewis said.

Lewis returned to the field. Suggs grabbed him the huddle and said, “Let’s put on a show!” Lewis said, “Nine minutes. Let’s put on a show. We got a big one next week. And they’re watching this whole game. We’re running next week, alright!”

Luck drove the Colts for the next four minutes, with a 12 play, 50-yard possession that was halted on a 4th & 1 when Corey Graham tipped a ball away from Reggie Wayne and into the arms of Cary Williams, who grabbed it at the 15 and returned it 41 yards before Luck could bring him down. It was Luck’s first interception in 150 pass attempts. The Colts were never a factor again.

The Ravens had the ball at the two-minute warning and