DENVER - After last Sunday's victory lap around the field at M&T Bank Stadium, Ray Lewis had another special moment in him.

"One thing about the playoffs, the only way to top it is to win the following week," he said. "There was only one way to cap last week and that was to win this week."

Saturday was the longest game in Lewis' 17-year career, and with 17 tackles - one for each year of his Hall of Fame career, Lewis was savoring every moment.

"I've never been a part of a game so crazy in my life," Lewis said.

Naturally, he took his team dressing before he came out, and apologized for keeping the media waiting.

He was keeping someone else waiting, too.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was waiting around to congratulate Lewis and the victor was especially gracious.

"There's so much respect I have for Peyton," Lewis said. He hadn't beaten him since early in the last decade.

"Nine straight losses," Lewis reflected. "I didn't think about it. I just heard about it. I heard about it so many times."

When he thought about the game, Lewis grew reflective.

"When all the emotions calm down, it will probably be one of the greatest victories in Ravens history, and that's probably because of how things were stacked up against us," Lewis said.

Often guilty of hyperbole, Lewis perhaps underrated the magnitude of the win.

The Super Bowl win a dozen years ago was a blowout. The AFC Championship victory that year wasn't terribly dramatic.

Lewis, who announced last week that this playoff run would be his last ride, tried to fire his team up.

"What if we do the impossible?" Lewis asked. "For us to come here and win, being nine or ten-point underdogs, that's the beautiful part about sports. If I'm probably going to miss anything about my career, it will be to listen to what people say you can't do and then go do it. Then you end it that way, and you do what we've done."

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said he wasn't surprised Lewis was able to equal his adrenaline rush of six days before.

"These games are so emotional - so much on the line, so much opportunity," Harbaugh said. "Guys work so hard to get to this point. You have to work so hard. That's why winning if so exhilarating and losing is so difficult."

Lewis insisted the Ravens would win - even after Trindon Holliday started the second half with an NFL postseason record 104-yard return.

"When that kickoff return went back, we never wavered," Lewis said. "When you make your mind to do something collectively as people, nothing is impossible when everybody buys in."

Lewis even saved some compliments for Joe Flacco.

"He grew up today," Lewis said. "I've always been a Joe Flacco fan."

No matter the Ravens opponent next week, New England or Houston, Lewis is going to use another emotional ploy as he did this week.

"I challenged my team this week to not listen to anything outside our building, to buy into who we are as a team," Lewis said.

His obligations finally done, Lewis got ready for a happy flight.

"The plane ride is going to be so awesome," Lewis said.

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