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Closing window for Ravens veterans

For six of the team's 22 offensive and defensive starters, Sunday's AFC Wildcard game against the New England Patriots could one of the few remaining chances left for a Super Bowl championship before their careers end.

Linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Ed Reed, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, wide receiver Derrick Mason, defensive end Trevor Pryce and center Matt Birk are all over the age of 30, and key reserves in defensive tackle Justin Bannan and wide receiver Kelley Washington are also in the same category.

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It's unclear how many years left these players have in the tank to continue their pursuit of a Super Bowl title. For Mason, who turns 36 on Jan. 17, that mission becomes even more enhanced with each passing day.

"Every opportunity to get in the playoffs -- we've been fortunate to get in the last two years -- you take advantage of it and use every opportunity to prepare yourself until the next round," Mason said. "We've got a big task coming ahead of us this week going down to New England, but I think if we take advantage of the opportunity and make the best of each play, then we'll be all right."

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Pryce won Super Bowl rings in his first two seasons with the Denver Broncos in 1997 and 1998, which planted a line of thought that he regrets.

"My first two years I won a Super Bowl, so I was kind of like, 'Oh, this is easy,'" he recalled. "But it isn't. The older you get, the more you relish the fact that you have a chance. There are 12 teams fighting for a Super Bowl – that's it. Not 32, not 21 – there's only 12."

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