While Ray Lewis's status among the elite all-time NFL linebackers is secure, the thing that most will remember about his performance in his final game might be his inability to keep up with the 49ers' younger, more agile running back Frank Gore in the hole.
And though the defining image of Lewis's career-ending Super Bowl victory will be the Baltimore Ravens celebration and the confetti that followed, he's still been on the receiving end of some blunt criticism for his Super Bowl XLVII showing. Former defensive lineman Trevor Pryce, who played with Lewis in Baltimore from 2006 to 2010, certainly didn't hold back when he appeared on The Jim Rome Show this week.
"He had it bad; he didn't look like himself, even his new self," Pryce said Monday. "Forget his old self, that guy's gone, that guy's named Patrick Willis."
Willis, who drew praise from Lewis during Super Bowl Media Day last week, had a game-high 10 total tackles, eight of which were solo tackles in the 49ers loss to the Ravens on Sunday. And while Lewis finished second on the Ravens with seven total tackles, four of which were solo, Pryce said he owed it to the rest of his defense — and the 49ers — for not ending the night embarrassed.
"Half of his playoff check should go to Dannell Ellerbe for making that last play on that last fade route," Pryce told Rome. "The other half to Greg Roman, the 49ers' offensive coordinator."
In six games played in what he promises will be his last season, Lewis recorded 44 tackles and forced and recovered one fumble. The sure-fire Hall of Famer finishes his career with 13 Pro Bowl selections, two Super Bowl rings and seven first-team All-Pro selections.