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This One's For You


The post-game locker room was emotional after the Ravens beat the New England Patriots in their preseason opener Thursday night.

First-time head coach John Harbaugh stood in the middle of the din, calling the entire group together in a joyful huddle to relay a message that would hopefully carry on throughout the season.

The Ravens played tough and never quit, holding strong for a 16-15 win despite a comeback attempt by the defending AFC champions - qualities Harbuagh is trying to imprint on the team.

But it wasn't Harbaugh's statement that seemed the most poignant during the celebration.

Following the coach, linebacker Ray Lewis stepped out from the crowd with a game ball in his hand.

Leaning forward to present it to Harbaugh, Lewis said, "Coach, from men to a real man, this is for you. Thanks for getting us ready. We will fight with you with all that we have."

Upon accepting the gift, Harbaugh turned around and dedicated the ball to Ravens director of player development O.J. Brigance, who is courageously fighting ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Lewis' statement counters the many critics that have called Harbaugh on running a gritty training camp and that such a camp would alienate the players.

If victory is going to be the result of hard work and dedication to every rep in every practice, the Ravens are believers.

"What a thrill it was to be the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens and be in front of this group of men," Harbaugh said in his post-game press conference. "You watch the Ravens over the years and see how they compete, how they fight and that's what these guys did."

For Harbaugh, Thursday's contest will be one he remembers for the rest of his life - from taking his first steps towards midfield as a head coach before kickoff to his congratulatory speech after the final whistle.

"The excitement of the players and the coaches in the locker room, it's hard to describe," Harbaugh said at the podium in the bowels of Gillette Stadium. "There's no way to explain what it feels like to get a victory in a stadium like this, against a team like this, but our guys came up here to win the game.

"We have a long way to go as a football team, and there are still a thousand things to work on."

Consider Lewis' gesture as representative of one accomplishment from that list.

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