Leaders emerging as Lewis, Ravens prepare for Patriots

BALTIMORE - Ray Lewis and the Ravens are getting a lot of attention. They know why.

From the team accomplishing what many analysts considered impossible as they defeated Peyton Manning and a heavily favored Denver Broncos team last week, to the beauty in a potential Super Bowl win for Lewis in his final season, the switch has flipped. The spotlight is pointed in their direction.

It was noticeable to many at practice Wednesday. In fact, one player looked down a hall outside the locker room lined with video cameras and reporters and jokingly asked where all the attention was the week before the Denver game.

This week has been a week that saw quarterback Joe Flacco on the cover of Sports Illustrated . It's been a week that's seen more chatter about a successful rookie kicker who could be key in Sunday's game and of course, plenty of attention to Ray Lewis .

But as a crowded auditorium fired questions at Lewis before practice, he attempted to route the attention elsewhere. He admitted that he doesn't like to talk about himself. He took control of the room and put the focus on the team – the same thing he's been doing this week in the locker room and on the field.

"My job as a leader and just being back here is to just always keep the guys focused, always keep the guys' eyes on the real prize, and that's each other. That's each other, because if we keep our eyes on each other, then everything else – no matter what comes at us – we'll be OK."

Lewis said he has taken his role this week in a calm manner. Why? It's because the team has realized the last AFC Championship game against New England could have had a different outcome had there not been a few botched plays. He also knows that the team is finally beginning to gel after what he describes as a roller coaster season.

"The first time me and Ed (Reed) and ‘Sizzle' (Terrell Suggs) actually played together this year was the Colts game. So, there are so many things that we had to fight through all year. For us to fight through it and be where we are now, I think collectively as a group, we're really starting to dial things in," Lewis said.

Perhaps more valuable than his accomplishments on the field this season have been Lewis' attempts to pass the torch. Whether his usual motivational bits to teammates or his getting after Joe Flacco on scout defense, Lewis believes he has provided other leaders on the team the tools needed to continue winning.

It's an accomplishment echoed by Ray Rice and Joe Flacco.

Flacco, who Lewis designated as "general" after the win over Denver, says the soon-to-be retired linebacker has been inspiring.

Rice said Lewis' designating Flacco as general was appropriate as the fifth-year quarterback has become more vocal and begun playing at a higher level.

"…Joe Flacco is truly our leader. Not only has he taken the role of our leader, he is leading us down this whole stretch. The one thing that he's doing is he is very vocal. He gets us lined up. He does everything that he needs to do as a quarterback," Rice said.

"Joe Flacco is playing lights out right now. We are riding with him. It's our job as a collective offense to keep this thing going. Everybody has a job. …Ray Lewis said it right. He is the general. That's a lot of the responsibility, but he's definitely taking it. He's taken it and ran with it, and he's doing a great job."

Head coach John Harbaugh says it's not just Flacco that is playing well and inspired by Lewis. He says there's a whole list of leaders that have rallied around Ray Lewis. They want to win a Super Bowl for Ray Lewis.

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