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Archive for Monday, January 29, 2001

Leader of ‘D’ earns MVP

Baltimore’s Lewis dominant on defense

January 29, 2001

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— As Ray Lewis came out of the tunnel before the Super Bowl began, he followed a season-long ritual: He scooped up a few blades of grass from Raymond James Stadium.

"That's a symbol," Lewis said. "This is our turf."

And how.

Lewis led a Baltimore defensive charge that bottled up the New York Giants in a 34-7 rout.

He seemed to be everywhere stuffing running plays, helping the secondary, deflecting a couple of passes, including one that turned into an interception, and making five tackles. He was a constant presence on defense, one New York was never able to avoid.

It earned him the MVP award.

The Ravens' defense established itself early. Lewis recalled the sequence of New York possessions that told him this would be Baltimore's game.

"Three and out. Three and out. Three and out. You got problems the rest of the day," he said.

Indeed they did.

The Giants managed only 86 yards passing and 66 running. They had 11 first downs, but three of those were by penalties. It was a total shutdown an exclamation point, Lewis said evidence that this defense is the best ever.

Lewis, the Defensive Player of the Year, glowed as he talked about the game.

"I'm 25 and I'm a world champion," he said. "There is no feeling like this. My body is tingling. We're world champions, anyway you look at it.

"If you can't put us down as the greatest defense in history now, we'll never be. We dominated everybody we played."

Lewis said the Ravens' defense took the fire out of the Giants.

"When you've got a buzzsaw from all different directions coming at you, it's a different ballgame," he said.

All week long, the buzzsaw seemed trained on Lewis.

He gave his team a rallying point, sitting through a tough, weeklong grilling from the media after being on trial in the murder of two men in Atlanta following last year's Super Bowl. He was often sullen, never repentant.

On Sunday, there were no more questions, just a football game to be played.

"There is no emotion like this," he said, "right now, to be here after being where I was last year."

He is the seventh defensive player and first middle linebacker picked as Super Bowl MVP.

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