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Lewis barely cracks top 40 in Super Bowl player ranking

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Lewis barely cracks top 40 in Super Bowl player ranking

Here’s a case where the legacy of former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis might be underrated.

An ESPN panel ranked the top 50 players in Super Bowl history, according to their performances in Super Bowl games. Lewis was ranked just 39th among the top 50 players in Super Bowl game history, despite being MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, and helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII in his last game before retiring.

Let’s look at Lewis in each game. In Super Bowl XXXV, the Ravens blew out the Giants, 34-7, and Lewis led a defense that cemented its place as one of the best in NFL history. Lewis was named Super Bowl MVP with five tackles and four passes defensed, and his numbers would have been better if the Giants’ offense hadn’t been rendered so inept.

Consider that only three defensive players in the last 20 years have been named Super Bowl MVP. Even if that was Lewis’ only Super Bowl, he might have deserved to be ranked higher than No. 39.

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However, Lewis capped his career in Super Bowl LXVII when the Ravens beat the 49ers, 34-31. Lewis didn’t have one of his best games with just seven total tackles, and he was beaten in pass coverage on several occasions.  However, he was part of a Ravens defense that preserved the victory with a goal line stand to end the game. It also cannot be denied that Lewis’ experience and leadership during the game’s key moments counted for something.

“The final series of Ray Lewis’ career was a goal line stand to win the Lombardi Trophy,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after the game, via the Associated Press. “It was not perfect. It was not pretty. But it was us. That’s who we are.”

Lewis is in good company on ESPN’s list, sandwiched between Jets quarterback Joe Namath, ranked No. 40, and Packers quarterback Brett Favre, ranked No. 38. But Lewis, a current ESPN analyst, couldn’t crack the top 35, despite a 2-0 Super Bowl record and winning an MVP on defense. That’s tough love from his current employer.

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Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline

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Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline

Le'Veon Bell decided not to return to the Steelers this season, and his former teammates have apparently decided they can have his belongings. 

The All-Pro running back didn't sign his $14.5 million franchise tag by Tuesday's deadline, and thus is ineligible to play this season.

Steelers player preceded to plunder his locker Wednesday. Defensive end Bud Dupree went right for Bell's cleats, thanking him for the Jordan brand shoes and saying he wishes Bell success.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters he sent Bell his well-wishes, but got no response from his former backfield mate. 

It's unclear what Bell plans to do next, but it's crystal clear the Steelers have moved on, with his shoes in tow. 

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Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco

Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has had his fair share of life changing moments. 

Winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016, being drafted by the Ravens in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and come Sunday, possibly his first NFL start.

With Joe Flacco nursing a hip injury suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9, the 21-year-old could be leading the Ravens for a full 60 minutes against division rival Cincinnati Bengals in what could be a defining moment of their season.

"I'm just going into it like any other week," Jackson said Wednesday. "Just preparing for whatever."

While Jackson has appeared in all nine games going 7-for-12 for 87 passing yards and one touchdown, he is the only first-round quarterback out of the 2018 draft that has yet to start this season. 

When asked how he would feel if his name is called Sunday, Jackson said he would have butterflies at first but added once the ball is snapped, "it's on."

Through the Ravens' first half of the season, how and when Jackson is utilized at either quarterback or receiver, has lacked consistency. Add in the lack of highlight reel passes from him and many are concerned he's not ready for an NFL start. 

The fast style of NFL play compared to that of college football was something Jackson admittedly struggled with throughout the preseason. But with nine regular season games under his belt, Jackson feels that is the area where he's taken the biggest strides. 

"Calling the plays," Jackson said. "Before I'd have to ask coach a hundred times, 'say it again, say it again,' but now he says it one time to me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes if [the call] is long or whatever I have to ask [coach to] say it again, but other than that I'm getting better with that."

Head coach John Harbaugh offered no insight on who would be their starting quarterback on Sunday and it can be expected he'll keep hush up until the last moment. Flacco was not on the practice field during media availability Wednesday, either. 

But let's not forget the other veteran quarterback on their roster; Robert Griffin III

For the first time since 2009, the Ravens decided to keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster for this very reason.

After sitting out of football for a year, RGIII was given a second chance in Baltimore, but has been a gameday inactive since the start of the season. If the week progresses and neither Flacco or Jackson seem ready, it could be the comeback of the once Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

"That's my job. That's why they brought me here," Griffin III said Wednesday on if he feels prepared to possibly start. "They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be. I try to help the defense every week on scout team and then do those [reps], and if my number's called I'll be able to go out there and lead this team."

Both RGIII and Jackson said that it would be "awesome" if they were named the starting QB on Sunday, but that no matter who it ends up being they're all here for one another.

"I'm going to continue to help [Lamar] just like I have all season because we're about the Ravens here," Griffin III said. "It's not about individuals. We've got a pretty daunting task ahead with this Bengals team and then just with the rest of our schedule, so we've got to make sure we make the most of every opportunity."

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