Ravens Legends: The Short Lived Greatness Of Jamal Lewis
The Baltimore Ravens were hosting the Cleveland Browns on a warm September day in 2003. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the sun shined over the beautiful field. This was a day that would go down in history and that fact was known after the first snap from scrimmage.
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The Ravens aligned in an I-formation. Kyle Boller handed the ball to Jamal Lewis who weaved his way into the open field and ran 80 yards down the field for a touchdown. It was clear from the start that something special was going to happen. It was literally amazing from start to finish.
Lewis ran for 295 yards against the Browns and scored two touchdowns. He was unstoppable. The Browns knew he was coming. They made adjustment after adjustment. They couldn’t stop the Ravens rushing attack. It was a straight up beat down handed to them from the entire offensive line and the running back having his brightest moment.
The 2003 season was one of the best seasons in Ravens history. The Ravens won the division that season. Lewis and the offensive line carried the offense entirely on their backs. Lewis had what is arguably the most amazing season in NFL history from a record, despite coming short of Eric Dickerson’s record for rushing yards in a season. The Ravens had a struggling passing attack. Everyone knew Lewis was getting the ball.
Lewis didn’t care. In that 2003 season he rushed for 2,066 rushing yards. This is the third most rushing yards a running back has ever had in a single season. Here is the amazing thing about that though: he averaged 5.3 yards per carry. The Ravens handed him the football 387 times and he didn’t slow down at all. Of the seven players who have reached the 2,000 yard mark, on Terrell Davis had more carries the year they did it.
Think about the beating that Lewis took that season. Think about the beating he took his entire career. The Tennessee Volunteers had no problem handing him the rock all the time. The Baltimore Ravens practically abused him and gave him no help with bad quarterback play.
Adrian Peterson broke the single game record that Lewis set against the Browns. Lewis didn’t catch Eric Dickerson’s season rushing record. That being said there may not have been a more incredible rusher than Jamal Lewis at his short lived peak. He was more physical, more bruising and more powerful than any running back we’ve ever seen.
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You cannot blame Lewis for his lack of longevity. You can blame the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens made Lewis do it all because they had no other choice. At the end of the day Lewis should be remembered as the dominant rusher that he was before all the hits added up and damaged his game. His name is now in the ring of honor at M&T Bank Stadium. He was clearly a Ravens legend.