Baltimore throws grand party for champion Ravens

Updated: February 5, 2013

Ray Lewis danced one final time on the M&T Bank Stadium turf as the city of Baltimore celebrated the Ravens’ victory in Super Bowl XLVII with a raucous celebration on Tuesday.

An overflow crowd reveled in Sunday’s 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans, which gave Baltimore its first title of any kind since the Ravens routed the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV back in January of 2001, with thousands of fans lined throughout the city streets and the stadium also showing their appreciation for Lewis as the beloved team icon begins his retirement after a remarkable 17-year run with the organization.

Quarterback Joe Flacco drew his share of cheers as well for his MVP performance in Sunday’s thrilling win, while safety Ed Reed added a little singing to Lewis’ trademark “Squirrel Dance” out of the entrance tunnel by belting out a rendition of Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise” and leading the familiar chorus of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” during the rally.

Still, the main attraction was undoubtedly Lewis, the franchise’s most decorated and recognizable player and the only remaining member from the Ravens’ first Super Bowl triumph 12 years ago, as the 37-year-old concluded his self-termed “last ride.”

The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl XXXV MVP gave plenty of affection back to the city where he spent his entire pro career while addressing the crowd at the rally.

“There is nothing in the world, there is no place on this earth, that is better than Baltimore,” Lewis said. “We believed in each other from day one, from 1996 to now.

“The only way on my last ride to pay Baltimore back for everything you did for me and all the support you gave to me, was to bring back the Lombardi Trophy to Baltimore one more time. I love you, Baltimore. Baltimore! Forever my city.”

Reed, an impending free agent with an uncertain future with the team, took the podium next and took a slight jab at the team the Ravens toppled to claim the Lombardi Trophy.

“Who’s got it better than who?,” he said in a reference to 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh’s famed team rallying cry of “Who’s got it better than us?”

Harbaugh, of course, is the younger brother of Ravens sideline boss John Harbaugh, who wrapped up the festivities by leading the crowd in a team chant after thanking the fans for their support.

“Our team, I’m talking about all of us, one of the keys was our determination,” said Harbaugh. “We played with incredible determination and resolve. And judging by how hard it was to get into this stadium, I would say that’s true about our fans, too. We’re on the parade coming down here, and every cranny, every sidewalk is full. Every opening where it opens up, every grassy knoll is packed with Ravens fans. They broke down the barriers behind Ray Lewis and mobbed the streets, right? They filled the streets.

“The city’s going crazy! For the Ravens! The world champion Baltimore Ravens!”

The celebration began shortly before noon ET at City Hall and continued with a parade through the streets until the team reached M&T Bank Stadium.