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Following the post-game moratorium of the Pittsburgh Steelersâ€™ demolition of the Ravens, one would have expected to hear from a losing side of players who inhaled a couple of pieces of humble pie. After all, the Steelers had just physically embarrassed the former division champs on a national stage, to the point where the broadcast became comical by the third quarter.
But at least one Raven kept his bravado intact. Ray Lewis spoke about how his proud defense held Willie Parker in check all night long. How, in essence, he and his front seven did their job. Lewis seemed intent on letting the Steelers know that they did not accomplish their goal of running the football down the Ravensâ€™ throats.
Lewisâ€™ point is well taken. The Steelers did not run the ball well at all. Parker gained 42 yards on 23 carries. He was stuffed early in the game and in the second half, when the game was already decided.
However, being able to run the ball effectively is completely irrelevant when an offense is able to throw bombs all over the field. Even when the Baltimore defense did not have to work on a short field, it still gave up pass completions to Ben Roethlisberger.
Lewis, again, seemingly took a subtle jab at the rest of his teammates by stating that they canâ€™t turn the ball over. And furthermore, by stating that Parker was a non-factor, he clearly left the burden of blame on a depleted and overmatched secondary.
Now, in all fairness, Lewisâ€™ assessment is fairly accurate. The secondary had clear fundamental breakdowns when Roethlisberger left the pocket. Instead of sticking to their coverage assignments, they came up the field and the receivers they were supposed to check broke open behind them.
The issue is Lewisâ€™ commentary in general. If Lewis has free reign to question his teammates, coaches and management, itâ€™s about time that someone calls out No.52 himself. Of course, no one would dare do that.
When Lewis pointed to Rex Ryanâ€™s schemes being more technical than they needed to be following a loss to the Browns, there was no retort. When Lewis called out Chris McAlister for not being able to stick with Braylon Edwards on a deep pass play, McAlister ignored the remark. And when head coach Brian Billick was taken to task for his ridiculous decision to throw the ball three straight times when the offense needed to gain one yard to keep a drive alive against Buffalo, Billick acknowledged that Lewis was right.
Others have excused Lewisâ€™ blatant lack of respect for the people around him as no more than a sign of a player who has reached his breaking point. They have given him a pass because he has earned the right to spout off.
Excuse me while I donâ€™t attend the pity party for Lewis.
Lewis has been an outstanding player for this organization, and he will go down as the teamâ€™s most prominent figurehead. However, his accomplishments do not give him the right to consistently question how other individuals are doing their jobs.
How would Lewis respond if one of his teammates called him out for missing a tackle? Or for being juked out of position by a ball carrier in the open field? Or for being pancaked by a driving fullback?
All of these instances have occurred more often in the latter stages of Lewisâ€™ career, yet he has earned enough credibility throughout his career to be respected as a still solid football player. Perhaps Lewis should respect others in the same way.
One thing is for certain; no one in the organization will approach Lewis to tone down the volume of his rants. If anything, Lewis is a reflection of the team in general â€“ a team with the freedom to practically say and do whatever they want, without abiding by a certain set of guidelines.
Before Monday nightâ€™s debacle, former head coach Bill Parcells stated that Lewis overstepped his boundaries by openly criticizing Billick. In Parcellsâ€™ view, a player should not dabble into issues which management and the coaching staff must deal with, and if a player like that were on his team, Parcells would want him gone.
A player like that on Billickâ€™s team is coddled.
A player like that on Billickâ€™s team runs the show, more or less.