Seventeen years ago, Ravens star inside linebacker Ray Lewis was an exuberant rookie competing against Indianapolis Colts veteran quarterback Jim Harbaugh.
"Absolutely, I remember it," Lewis said during the lead-up to Super Bowl XLVII. "How could I forget it? It is one of those things that when you are playing the game when you first come in as a rookie, you are just running around. And I was just running around making plays. When I sacked him, I remember getting up and doing this dance with my shoulders, and shaking my shoulders, or whatever. And later, I became teammates with him as well. Been a long time, but the ride, I would never complain about one moment of it."
The Colts got the victory that day, a 26-21 win despite Harbaugh being sacked four times.
"My legend grows," Jim Harbaugh quipped recently when his father, Jack, reminded him of being sacked by the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. "Ray Lewis' first sack."
Lewis and Harbaugh, once known as "Captain Comeback," were later teammates in Baltimore.
"I think he was exactly how he is as a coach," Lewis said. "He is kind of straightforward. He is a hard worker. He understands what he wants to get done. And when he comes in to get it done, he is going to do everything he has in his power to get it done. He is a very passionate person, but he always has purpose in what he is doing. That is what I remember most about Jim."
— Aaron Wilson
Other Ray Lewis firsts:
First victory: Sept. 1, 1996. Lewis starts at middle linebacker in the Ravens' first game, a 19-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders at Memorial Stadium.
First loss: Sept. 8, 1996. In a 31-17 setback to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, Lewis makes 10 tackles.
First pre-game dance: Sept. 10, 2000. Lewis, showing glee upon his return to PSINet Stadium after an off-season in which a double-murder trial put his career in doubt, dances onto the field during player introductions before a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars as the crowd roars.
First tackle: Sept. 1, 1996. Lewis stops Oakland fullback Derrick Fenner in the first half of the Ravens' win over the Raiders.
First interception: Sept. 1, 1996. In the same game, Lewis picks off a pass from Billy Joe Hobert in the end zone for a second-quarter touchback against Oakland.
First interception returned for a touchdown: Jan. 7, 2001. Lewis swipes a pass from Steve McNair and goes 50 yards for a score in the Ravens' 24-10 division playoff victory over the Tennessee Titans.
First fumble recovery: Oct. 8, 2000. Lewis scoops up a botched snap at the Ravens' 7-yard line in a 15-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
First safety: Oct. 10, 1999. In a 14-11 loss to Tennessee, Lewis drops Titans running back Rodney Thomas in the end zone.
First Super Bowl: 2001. The Ravens defeat theNew York Giants, 34-7 in Tampa, and Lewis is named Most Valuable Player.
First Pro Bowl: 1997.
First time All Pro (first team): 1999.
First NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award: 2000.
— Mike Klingaman