For his final ride, Ray Lewis took the path of John Elway, Jerome Bettis and Michael Strahan.

He walked off into the sunset as a champion.

"What better way to go out," he said, after the Ravens preserved a 34-31 win in Super Bowl XLVII with a goal-line stand in the final two minutes. "The more I think about it, it was my teammates, the way we went out, the things we been through all year.

"I was tested through this journey. It was an up-and-down rollercoaster — the injuries — and we stayed together. Honestly, when God is for you, who can be against you?"

It was not Lewis' greatest game, by far. For the first time this postseason he didn't lead the Ravens in tackles. He had seven. Lewis, a linebacker, also struggled in pass coverage, getting beat often by tight end Vernon Davis (six catches, 104 yards).

But when the game was on the line, Lewis and the defense stopped the 49ers three times from the 5-yard line.

"You know, the most exciting thing ever was the conversations we were having," Lewis said. "Nobody panicked, everybody looked at each other and there was no panic. When you have that, when your back is against the wall and they have three more plays at the goal line, if we all do our jobs, they won't get in.

"For us to stand up like that, it's a testament to what we've been through and how much trust we have with each other."

Lewis was asked the inevitable — what's next?

"Everything," he said. "The world. Life. Now I get to see a different side of life. My family, my sons, my kids, they've all sacrificed for me. Now I get the opportunity to sacrifice for them.

"The only thing that ends for me is football. Life really begins for Ray Lewis now."

From The Detroit News: