Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis will ride into retirement as a Super Bowl champion.
Lewis began his final night on the football field with a motivational speech to his teammates. He ended it looking upward into a shower of silver streamers and purple confetti after the Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 on Sunday to win the NFL title.
"It's simple: When God is for you, who can be against you?'' Lewis said, clutching the Lombardi Trophy.
"It's no greater way, as a champ, to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with, with my teammates. And you looked around this stadium and ... Baltimore! Baltimore! We coming home, baby! We did it!''
Standing tall in the middle of a defence that survived a frenzied comeback by Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers, Lewis put a lovely bow on his 17th NFL season by earning his second Super Bowl ring - 12 years after the first.
When Lewis first led Baltimore to Super Bowl glory, he was a 25-year-old at the height of his game. A terror in the middle of the best defence in the league, Lewis was voted MVP after the Ravens earned their first championship.
On Sunday, Lewis and his defence played a supporting role to quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense.
The 37-year-old Lewis had only two solo tackles through the first three quarters and sometimes struggled to cover receivers venturing into his area.
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught a 19-yarder on San Francisco's second series, and tight end Vernon Davis eluded Lewis twice before making second-quarter catches.
Lewis did, however, made two tackles during the 49ers' final drive. San Francisco had a fourth-and-goal from 5 when Lewis charged in on a blitz. He didn't get to Kaepernick, but the quarterback's pass sailed out of the end zone.
After amassing a team-high 44 tackles in Baltimore's first three playoff wins, Lewis was anything but exceptional against the 49ers. But the Ravens played like champions around him.