Ray Lewis offers advice to Ravens after playoff disappointment

OWINGS MILLS — Former Ravens linebacker and Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis had some advice for the team after another disappointing end to the season: Come back stronger.

The Ravens earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs but fell short of reaching the Super Bowl after losing to the Chiefs, 17-10, in the conference championship game. The Ravens were the league’s best team during the regular season but were outplayed and outcoached by the Chiefs, who won the Super Bowl last Sunday.

Lewis experienced a similar heartbreak when he was a player, but he and his teammates bounced back the following season.

In 2011, the Ravens lost to the Patriots, 23-20, in the AFC Championship Game. Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left, allowing New England to escape with the victory. The Patriots were upset by the Giants, 21-17, in Super Bowl 46.

The following year, the Ravens regrouped and won the second Super Bowl in franchise history, beating the 49ers, 34-31, behind quarterback Joe Flacco and a defense headlined by Lewis and Ed Reed.

Lewis is hopeful the Ravens can follow the same script.

“You can only come back when you get this close,” Lewis said on Tico Sports, the Ravens’ Spanish-speaking broadcast network. “I felt this pain. And so to feel that, you got to understand there is something else I need to finish. I went through that in 2011, and I told my team after that, we will be back in this same place next year to finish this. So that’s the mindset.”

The 2012 Ravens had to go through New England again to get to the Super Bowl. The Ravens outplayed them and won the game. 28-13, to get to New Orleans and set up a matchup with San Francisco.

This year’s Ravens might have to beat the defending champion Chiefs to reach next year’s title game. That would make the team’s third Super Bowl title even more rewarding, according to Lewis.

“It’s hard to beat a focused champion,” said Lewis, who played for both of the Ravens’ Super Bowl-winning teams; the other was after the 2000 season. “It’s rewarding when you do lose and come back and do it.”

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