Baltimore Ravens: Ranking the best Ray Lewis dances
1. ‘Last Ride’ before 2012 Wild Card Game vs. Colts
Without a doubt, the best pregame Ray Lewis dance came on Jan. 6, 2013 before the final ride of Lewis’s career officially began. Days before the Ravens hosted the Colts on Wild Card weekend, Lewis announced during a press conference that the 2012 playoff run would be his “last ride.” Lewis missed the Ravens’ final 10 regular season games with a torn right triceps tendon. His son was also getting ready to begin a collegiate football career, and Lewis wanted to make sure he could be there for games, which would not always be possible if Lewis continued to play.
Because the #6-seeded Bengals were eliminated by the Texans to kick off the playoffs, the Ravens knew that their Wild Card game against the Colts would be their only opportunity to play in front of their home crowd during the postseason. For Baltimore, this made Wild Card Sunday not just another tangle with the backstabbing Colts franchise. It became the perfect day to pay tribute to Ray Lewis and his terrific Ravens career, while watching the G.O.A.T. do his thing on the field one more time.
A moment nobody will ever forget:
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Lewis’s final dance in a Ravens uniform certainly lived up to the hype. Lewis making his ‘last ride’ announcement was more than enough of draw, but the 10 weeks the Ravens went without him made his last dance in Baltimore that much more anticipated. When the time came for the Ravens to introduce their starting defense, The NFL Today cut right to M&T Bank Stadium for millions of viewers around the world to take in the moment from their living rooms.
When the time came for Lewis’s introduction, the in-stadium cameras cut to the future Hall-Of-Fame linebacker, who was crouched down on the ground. Lewis stood up, walked with a purpose through the smoke, and delivered the most passionate dance of his career. If you check out live videos taken from the stadium, you can see players like Flacco and Jacoby Jones jumping up and down during Lewis’s entire introduction.
In Lewis’s last game in Baltimore, the Ravens took down the Colts 24-9, moved on to Denver, then New England, and ended the postseason with their second Super Bowl win in franchise history. Throughout Lewis’s entire last ride, the Ravens legend racked up 29 tackles, even while basically playing with one arm.
Honorable Mention: Post-Super Bowl dance during parade
Even though the dance before the Wild Card game was technically the last one, Lewis got another opportunity to dance out of the tunnel following the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl 47. Only this time, Lewis brought a little friend out of the tunnel with him: the Lombardi Trophy.
What made this moment so special was that the Ravens let fans in the stadium for the celebration free of charge, and security took it easy. This gave fans who can’t afford to attend games a chance to witness one of the best moments in Baltimore sports history. Lewis danced one last time, then Ed Reed and Jacoby Jones joined in on the fun. Truly a hilarious but incredible moment.
The Bottom Line:
For many Ravens fans, the Ray Lewis dance became one of the best parts of attending a game. Since retiring, Ray has brought the dance back for events like his statue unveiling, but nothing will top a pregame squirrel dance.
Sadly, since Lewis retired, Ravens pregame introductions don’t feel as special. I will always enjoy watching a football team run out of a tunnel with flames shooting everywhere, but I can’t help but notice that more times than not, the stadium is three-quarters empty when the Ravens take the field. We can all agree that there will never be another player like Ray Lewis, but hopefully the arrival of Lamar Jackson and the twilight of Terrell Suggs’s career gives Ravens fans a reason to show up early to their seats.