Without Ray Lewis Speech, Ravens May Have Lost Gel


The AFC championship was as tough a loss as one could imagine, and thus needs no re-telling.

It's one that could have fractured a team.

But linebacker Ray Lewis didn't let that happen.

The speech Lewis gave to the team following that cold night in Foxborogh, Mass., occurred on

Jan. 22. More than six months later, it still resonates in Baltimore.

"We had a great leader pull us back together, and that was No. 52," running back Ray Rice said Wednesday as training camp officially kicked off.

"Without him in that locker room at that moment, I don't think the gelling would have come back. Ray Lewis brought us together as a team, and you'll see a team come out here with pride, ready to come out here and practice."

Rice didn't mince any words about how the team is responding to that championship loss.

"The mood of training camp will be that last game," he said.

But without Lewis' speech, the way they now look back on it may have been different. Lewis spoke about how it must not have been the team's destiny to go to the Super Bowl. He talked about the beauty of having another chance at it this year.

"We've got to come back and go to work to make sure we finish it next time. That's all we've got to do," Lewis said that night. "This right here makes us stronger."

While the Ravens' singular goal is to get to and win a Super Bowl, Lewis emphasized that there should be no shame in what happened last year.

"Sometimes we are always focused on the end result, [and] we forget the journey was awesome," Lewis said on Wednesday.

He said a team can never hold its head down by losing the AFC championship, even bringing up the Buffalo Bills who lost four straight Super Bowls from 1991-1994. He said they were still great.

Lewis harkened back to 1996 when the Ravens went 4-12. The worst season he's had s

ince then was in 2007 when the Ravens finished 5-11.

Baltimore has made the playoffs every year since 2007* *and finished with 12 wins the past two seasons.

They've done it, in part, by having a very tight-knit team.

The Ravens boasted about their chemistry heading into the playoffs last year. And it's something that Baltimore enters this training camp looking to form once again.

"We're going to do things to gel again as a team, because one thing we were last year was a great team," Rice said. "No one can take that away from us. We just fell short. We have to try to get that feeling back."

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