Jamal Lewis To Be Inducted Into Ravens' Ring Of Honor
"J-LEW" STILL HOLDS SEVERAL TEAM RECORDS
By Joe Platania
For the first time in eight years, the Ravens' Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium is honoring team greats in consecutive seasons.
Running back Jamal Lewis, the team's first consistent ground threat, the youngest player to take part in a Super Bowl and the author of an AFC-record 2,066-yard season in 2003, will be inducted into the Ring at halftime of the Ravens' nationally televised game against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, Sept. 27, according to multiple reports.
The team welcomed longtime kicker Matt Stover into the Ring last year. The last time the Ravens installed new names into the Ring in back-to-back campaigns was when defensive end Michael McCrary's 2004 induction capped off a run of four straight inductees in as many seasons.
The Ravens have won six of seven games played when a new member has gone into the ring, losing only on McCrary's big night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
But Baltimore has won eight straight games against Cleveland, making such an occurrence unlikely when Lewis' name is revealed on the upper-deck facade on both sides of the 15-year-old stadium.
There is usually a connection to the honoree whenever the choice of opponents is made for a Ring induction game.
For instance, Stover scored more points during his career against the Cincinnati Bengals than any other team, which is why his ceremony took place during the Ravens' win against the Bengals last year.
Lewis is no exception, as his 295-yard effort in the 2003 home opener -- an NFL single-game record at the time, which San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson bested by just 1 yard four years later -- came against the Browns during the first game played on the new SportExe Momentum Turf, a 33-13 Ravens win.
During that game, Lewis ripped off an 82-yard touchdown run, which stood as the longest run in Ravens history until Le'Ron McClain tied the record with an 82-yarder of his own at Dallas in 2008.
Later that season, during a 35-0 December victory, Lewis gained 205 more yards at Cleveland for a total of 500 rushing yards during two games against one opponent during a single season, thought to be a league record.
After his contract was terminated in Baltimore, Lewis went on to play for Cleveland for three seasons, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark during two of them, gaining 2,806 yards and scoring 13 more touchdowns before retiring.
Lewis, who is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2015, ended his career with 10,607 yards and 58 touchdowns.
Surprisingly, the 2003 season proved to be Lewis' only Pro Bowl campaign, but it was one during which the big, brusing 5-foot-11, 245-pound back -- a first-round pick from Tennessee (fifth overall) in 2000 -- averaged almost 130 yards per game.
Lewis -- whose 7,801 yards as a Raven are a team career record -- set a single-season team mark with 14 rushing touchdowns that year, one during which Baltimore went 10-6 and won its first AFC North Division title before falling to the Tennessee Titans at home during the wild-card round.
His 2,066 rushing yards that year are surpassed in the NFL record books only by the 2,105-yard season the Los Angeles Rams' Eric Dickerson posted in 1984.
Not only that, Lewis set another Ravens record with 12 games of 100 or more yards in 2003, nearly half of his team-best 30 games at or above the century mark.
Lewis' acquisition came as a result of a trade that may have been general manager Ozzie Newsome's best-ever transaction.
In 1999, the Ravens traded their second-round pick that year for the Atlanta Falcons' first-round pick in 2000. Atlanta took tight end Reggie Kelly with the Ravens' pick, but then slumped to 4-12 the following season.
That allowed the Ravens to hold the fifth overall selection, with which they snagged Lewis, who happens to be an Atlanta native.
That year, Lewis became the youngest player to ever take part in a Super Bowl at 21 years, five months, scoring the game-clinching touchdown and gaining more than 100 yards during the Ravens' 34-7 win against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa.
(Stover is the oldest, taking the field for Indianapolis during Super Bowl XLIV in Miami in February 2010, mere days after turning 42.)
During the team's playoff run, one of Lewis' highlight runs was a touchdown burst up the middle against the Denver Broncos on Wild Card Weekend in which he plowed over his college roommate, linebacker Al Wilson.
For his career, Lewis averaged 4.3 yards per carry, tied with Chester Taylor for the second-best per-carry average in Ravens history. Priest Holmes and Ray Rice each boast rates of 4.6 yards per attempt.
Lewis' 47 total touchdowns, 45 of them rushing, are a team all-time record, and his 284 points scored (including one two-point conversion) are third-best; kicker Billy Cundiff (294) passed Lewis for second place last season.
RAVENS' RING OF HONOR
2012 -- RB Jamal Lewis (to be inducted Sept. 27)
2011 -- K Matt Stover
2008 -- T Jonathan Ogden
2006 -- LB Peter Boulware
2004 -- DE Michael McCrary
2003 -- Owner Art Modell
2002 -- Baltimore Colts Hall of Famers: QB John Unitas, WR Raymond Berry, RB Lenny Moore, DT Art Donovan, DE Gino Marchetti, TE John Mackey, T Jim Parker, LB Ted Hendricks
2001 -- RB Earnest Byner