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No. 1 Sports Story of the Year: Lewis' last ride was lights out

The Baltimore Ravens capped Ray Lewis' "last ride" with a Super Bowl title on the first Sunday in February.
The Ravens dealt with a tremendous amount of adversity during the 2012 season, a combination of personal tragedy, injuries to some of their best players and on-field issues that led to a late season three-game losing streak and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron being fired with just three weeks left in the regular season.
But they started to click right before the playoffs, got Lewis back for the playoffs after playing without him for most of the year, and they rallied around Lewis after he announced just before the start of the playoffs that he was going to retire at the end of the season.
Four wins later - and after overcoming a momentum altering power outage in the Super Bowl - the Ravens were Super Bowl champions, and Lewis' Hall of Fame career ended with a second championship.
"What better way to go out? And I think, more importantly, it was my teammates in the way I went out - the things we've been through all year," Lewis said following the Super Bowl. "[We were] tested through this journey. It was an up-and-down rollercoaster - the injuries, the people - and we stayed together. And now, I get to ride off into the sunset with my second ring."
The Ravens were challenged along the way, though.
They trailed the Denver Broncos by a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the AFC divisional round game and were backed up on their 30-yard line without a timeout. They trailed the New England Patriots at halftime in the AFC championship game. And they had to deal with the power outage during the Super Bowl and the San Francisco 49ers' rally that followed.
The defense came up with a stand that essentially sealed the Super Bowl, but the difference throughout the playoffs was quarterback Joe Flacco - named Super Bowl MVP - and the Ravens' offense.
An offense that had struggled under Cameron flourished once Jim Caldwell took over play-calling responsibilities, especially Flacco. Flacco threw a record-tying 11 touchdowns during the playoffs without throwing an interception. And led by Flacco, Baltimore came back to beat the Broncos in double overtime, came back to beat the Patriots and held on to beat the 49ers 34-31.
Now, the Ravens are hoping to go on a similar run behind Flacco.
They have again had their issues during the regular season, again dealt with injuries to key players and again did not look like a legitimate Super Bowl even as late as early December.
But like last year, they are improving just in time for the playoffs and believe they are capable of ending another ride with a Super Bowl title.

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