The Ravens are bereft of NFL Defensive Player of the Year outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who's on the physically-unable-to-perform list with a partially torn right Achilles tendon. His absence has affected the defense a lot as far as stopping the run and the pass.

In the past, the mere presence of Lewis, an emotional leader known for his elaborate pregame dance and inspirational fire-and-brimstone speeches, would be enough for the defense to maintain its traditional gold standard.

So far this year, that hasn't been the case.

Yet Lewis hasn't lost an ounce of respect in the Ravens' locker room, where he remains a powerful force.

"He's playing unbelievable," outside linebacker Paul Kruger said. "Yeah, he might've been faster a couple years ago, but he's still dominating the game. He's done something not many players have been able to do. The fact that he's doing what he's doing at his age is incredible. I can't say enough about the way the guy prepares and plays the game.

"Obviously, there comes a point in time when everybody has to quit playing time game. Nobody can play forever, but nobody has done it the way he's done. I'm just amazed at what he's done. His career is a motivator for everybody."

Lewis led the Ravens last season with 95 tackles despite missing four games with a painful toe injury.

He's on pace for 137 tackles this season.

"He's still one of the best," All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach said. "He takes care of himself, he takes care of his body. He comes in day in and day out and puts some nice work together."

For his career, Lewis has 2,629 tackles, 41 1/2 sacks, 31 interceptions, 20 forced fumbles and 20 fumble recoveries. He has led the Ravens in tackles 14 times and recorded at least 130 tackles 13 times.

He's the Ravens' all-tome leading tackler and is the NFL's all-time active career tackle leader ahead of London Fletcher (2,263), Keith Brooking (1,843), Brian Urlacher (1,678) and Mike Peterson (1,600).

"I see the same guy," Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said heading into Sunday's game against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. "I see a guy who is the emotional leader of that defense and the emotional leader of that football team. They all look to him.

"I see a guy who makes a ton of plays once the play starts. He makes a lot of tackles, is around the ball a lot. He's the same guy that we have been seeing here."

Lewis' diminished production caught the attention of NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell last year, who noticed he wasn't getting as much depth on pass drops as before.

Despite Lewis getting down to a lean 235 pounds, his lightest weight since he was a rookie during the Ravens' inaugural season in 1996, Cosell said the explosiveness is no longer there.

"I don't think he's nearly as effective in the sub packages anymore," Cosell said. "The guy's unbelievable, as dynamic a human being as anyone you've ever been around. The guy is a first-ballot Hall-of Famer, but he's being blocked like he never has before. He's lost some of his athletic movement.

"He's 37 years old, so none of this is a surprise to anyone in the NFL. His lateral movement skills have deteriorated. He's not the same sideline-to-sideline player as he was. Ray's reaction time isn't quite as fast now."

The Ravens stonewalled Charles in the second half primarily because of more aggressive play from the front seven and a sharp halftime adjustment from defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

Pees shifted his defensive linemen further outside to combat the perimeter runs, and he walked up the linebackers to allow them to attack more quickly.

It was an effective gambit.