Two Superbowl MVPs.
Two future Hall of Famers.
One dream. One singular goal. One victor.
It took two overtimes, 18 penalties, 73 points. And it took the football worlds breath away.
What began as the meeting of the Comeback vs. the Farewell, ended as one of the best games in recent history.
Peyton Manning came into this season wanting to show that he still could play, that his four neck surgeries did not bring his professional career to an end. The regular season did not matter; this offseason would be the real test.
On the other sideline stands Ray Lewis. The standard bearer for the Baltimore Ravens for the last 17 seasons, Lewis announced that he would retire after these playoffs. This would be his last ride.
So in Denver, in the cold (11 degrees at kickoff), these two legendary players met for the last time. The game had everything: kickoff and punts returned for touchdowns, interceptions, long passes, even ‘Hey diddle diddle Ray Rice up the middle’, and far too many penalty flags.
The flags marred an otherwise incredible game. So many times throughout the game a great play by either side would be erased by an inexplicable penalty. Fans for both teams vented across Twitter and Facebook.
This game did not bring one to the edge of their seats, it had fans standing up screaming, shouting, cheering right into the second overtime. On this day a first ballot hall of famer lost the game for his team, rather than winning it. With a pass that he still wants back, Peyton Manning threw an interception with 1:01 left in the first overtime. A few plays later Baltimore’s Justin Tucker kicked the game winning field goal.
The Farewell Tour gets to go on; the Comeback fell just a little short.
With tears in his eyes Ray Lewis looks towards the AFC Championship. Peyton Manning only gets to look towards home.