Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis is probably the last NFL player who needs extra motivation. But the New York Jets insisted on getting the future Hall of Famer riled up for their big "Monday Night Football" showdown at New Meadowlands Stadium.
After weeks of trash-talking by the Jets and head coach Rex Ryan, which only intensified as the game got closer, Lewis had an even sharper edge than usual when it was finally time to take the field. The result was a lights-out performance by Lewis and Baltimore's defense during a 10-9 victory. The Jets' offense only mustered six first downs, 176 total yards and couldn't reach the end zone.
"We have a rule," Lewis explained after the game. "If they don't score, they don't win."
Lewis recorded four tackles against New York. But there were hidden plays that didn't show up in the stats that also told the story.
Lewis blew up the fullback several times to help stuff running plays and made all the proper checks to make sure the Ravens' defense stayed one step ahead. Lewis also put a final exclamation point on the game by blasting Jets tight end Dustin Keller to force a key incompletion on New York's final drive.
With all the trash-talking and hype leading up to this game, it was clear Lewis, 35, had extra pep in his step.
"Ray Lewis has lost a step? I don't think so," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Ray Lewis is the best linebacker in football. No doubt about it."