E-mail this image
5. Will Ray Lewis rebound from a rough game?
It was a rough game for inside linebacker Ray Lewis in Kansas City with blockers left free to tee off on him. He struggled to escape interior blockers Ryan Lilja, Jeff Allen and Jon Asamoah. Although Lewis had 10 tackles, only one was for a loss, and that was in the fourth quarter against Cyrus Gray. By then, Jamaal Charles had gained 125 first-half rushing yards before Dean Pees' halftime adjustment and a more aggressive performance by the front seven stonewalled the Chiefs' star running back.
Lewis was clearly vulnerable, though, to physical blocking and the zone stretch play, and he had trouble catching up with Charles on perimeter runs. All of that is not a surprise considering Lewis is 37 years old. Other teams will definitely watch what was evident on the game video and try to go after him. Lewis is an NFL survivor, though. He didn't make it to his 17th season by lacking intelligence or toughness.
The spirit is still willing for Lewis, but his body is betraying him a bit in terms of losing a step or two and the ability to shock, shed and stuff as a run-stopper. He's still an excellent tackler, a good blitzer and an effective field general as the Ravens' emotional leader.
Lewis will adjust as well, and hefty nose tackles Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Terrence Cody will undoubtedly be instructed to keep blockers off the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year after failing to do so against the Chiefs.
Although the Cowboys are a pass-first outfit, running back DeMarco Murray has speed and is capable of beating defenders around the edge. He has rushed for 237 yards and one touchdown with a long run of 48 yards this season.
October 7, 2012