Thanks for the support. Thanks for believing in me. Thanks for making Baltimore feel like home. Thanks for being there for us, even when we didn't play so hot. Thank you for going crazy in the stands during our games. And definitely thanks for the road support. That was tremendous, and we definitely loved that. We always know how many fans we have in the stadium when we hear you yell the "O!" part of the national anthem as loud as you possibly can! It feels good and always gives us an extra boost to go out there and get the job done.
This season … it was amazing. It was like playing in high school during your senior year, with all your friends and family out there cheering for you. When you play football in Baltimore, it feels like you're playing in your hometown. That's how it feels for me at least, and I'm pretty sure a lot of other players feel that way, too. It's not about the money or the stats. It's about going out there and having fun and giving it everything you've got for the fans because you are so involved in everything we do.
The way the season ended, it was bittersweet. There were times during the [divisional-round playoff] game where we're thinking, there's no doubt we're winning this game, we're up two touchdowns. Then they come back. Then we go back up two touchdowns. And it's inevitable, we have to win this game. And then it ends like it did. It was a hard loss, but at the same, you're so proud of everyone on the sidelines because everyone fought their hearts out. Through all of the adversity that we went through this year, with injuries or off-the-field issues, everyone stuck together and continued to fight no matter what. This group took the bad and turned it into good.
It was a special season for me personally, too. I felt like I wanted to take it upon myself – as did a lot of my teammates – to try to get us to the playoffs. It felt good to see guys like Daryl Smith and Eugene Monroe, who haven't made it to the playoffs on other teams, get into the playoffs, and then on top of that, get a playoff win. I also felt good about keeping my streak alive of not allowing a 100-yard rusher. I took that to heart. That was big for me.
This team is definitely a family. Everyone plays for each other. You feed off each other's energy. It's a band of brothers. You eat, sleep, and breathe with these guys for a whole season. You have the big brothers teaching you the way, you have the younger guys, you have the guys in the middle, like a middle child. It's one big huge family that shares the same goals. We all understand where we want to be as a team, where we need to be and where we want to get to consistently every year. We have each other's backs no matter what. It's just how we are. It's the Raven way. When players come to the Ravens from other teams, they feel it, as well. The Raven way surrounds them and they become a Raven believer, and they want to play even harder because of how much everyone believes in them and supports them. Even though sometimes your teammates will get on you, you take it with love and not disrespect.
Once the offseason comes, you have to give your body rest after playing 18 weeks of football, plus pre-season, training camp and OTAs. You have to give your body a couple weeks of rest and then get back at it. Football is 365, all day, every day. Personally for me, I will be working on the little things … obviously getting leaner, getting a little stronger, a little faster. Improving flexibility to prevent injury. Conditioning-wise, making sure I am in the best possible condition and pretty much in mid-season form once football starts back up.
There's always going to be a draft every year, so you need to always make sure you can solidify yourself a spot on the team no matter who you are … a 10-year vet or me. You have to make sure you are in the best possible shape to do your job as best as you can so that no one else can take your spot.
I think the future looks great, for me and for this team. We continue to strive for greatness as a team, work to get back to the playoffs and to a Super Bowl, and just have a better season next year, as a team and as an individual.
You do it for yourself because it's your job, and it's a job that you love, but you do it for the people. To see the smiles on the fans' faces after a game or to see the Tweets and text messages from people saying how proud they are of the Ravens and how grateful they are to have a team like us … there's love from every angle in this community. They see us at our highest of highs and lowest of lows, and through all that, they are still Ravens fans. It's good to be loved and appreciated by our Ravens fans.
I'm really grateful and blessed to be in the position I'm in. I'm grateful to be a Raven and for the opportunity to blossom with this team. My heart is definitely in this organization, the community, and with our fans. Once again, thank you.