BOSTON (CBS) – Win or lose, at the end of Sunday’s AFC Championship game, Ray Lewis and Tom Brady will give each other a hug, share a couple of “I love you man’s,” and the respect they both have will move on.
Tom, and pretty much everyone else in the football-viewing world, is well aware of Ray’s “last ride” situation. The two have had classic games, and stared into each other’s eyes many times — just not that lovey-dovey kind of glare.
At least not on the field at least. But once they get to their respective locker rooms, the two know what one another means to the game of football.
“I said last week, it’s really a pleasure to play against him,” Brady said of Lewis leading up to their AFC Championship showdown. “He’s really been so consistent over the years, and durable and tough. He’s so instinctive. He doesn’t take off hardly any plays, makes a ton of tackles; he’s great in the pass game, he’s great in the run game. He blitzes, like he did a few years ago.”
Watch: The Legacy Of Tom Brady
Against a Ray Lewis-led defense, Brady has seven touchdowns, eight interceptions and he’s been sacked 16 times. Bit while he hasn’t enjoyed those games statistically, there is a twist in Brady’s favor; New England is 5-2 in Brady’s seven head-to-head meetings with Lewis.
But Brady knows that when Lewis makes plays, the Ravens respond.
“He’s really a play maker for them, so they give him an opportunity to make those plays,” Brady said. “You see when he makes a play, their whole sideline gets really amped up. You always have to know where 52 is at. He’s always right in the middle of the defense, but whether he’s blitzing or covering or he’s free in the middle of the field, you always have to take him into account.”
Lewis, as he has for most of his career, had nothing but good things to say about Brady this week. After dispatching Peyton Manning’s Broncos last weekend, he would like to do the same to Brady this week, but knows just how important the two quarterbacks are to the NFL.
“I mean legacy, like I said, there are certain eras that you always come around through, and Tom and Peyton will always be known for their offensive eras, and I’ll be known for the defensive era of my time,” said Lewis. “When me and my son sit back and talk about it, I’m in awe over the way these guys play the game, and how we challenge each other back and forth with a chess match.”
“I just think there is a certain level of respect that I will always have for these guys because of the way they play the game,” continued Lewis. “You have to respect them, because they’ve been up there with the highest of highs, and when their name goes down, the Hall of Fame will definitely be calling both of their names very quickly.”
One day, Brady and Lewis may cross paths in Canton, Ohio, and give each other a big hug. They’ll probably do the same after Sunday’s game, whatever the outcome.
But one thing is certain; these two will be competing against each other until the final whistle blows.
Tune in to the AFC Championship game at 6:30pm on Sunday on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV, or LISTEN LIVE on CBSBoston.com! Pregame coverage begins on WBZ with Patriots GameDay at 11:30am, and at 3pm on 98.5 with Patriots Preview. Following the game, tune in to three hours of coverage on the Sports Hub, and to Patriots 5th Quarter over on myTV38.