Now, in a plot twist that may provide the NFL's answer to Willis Reed's one-legged inspiration in 1970 and Kirk Gibson's limp-off blast in 1988, the Ravens are quietly looking forward to another miracle, perhaps this one of the Christmas variety.
More than half a dozen sources told Yahoo! Sports that legendary linebacker Ray Lewis, believed to be lost for the season after suffering a torn triceps in mid-October, is expected to return before the end of the 2012 campaign, perhaps as early as the Ravens' Dec. 16 showdown with the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium.
Depending upon the way his arm responds, Lewis could be activated to face the Broncos (the first game for which he'd be eligible), or for the following week's home game against the New York Giants — or, if a more conservative approach is favored, Baltimore's playoff opener. "He might not be back until we really need him," Ayanbadejo said. "Pittsburgh losing probably gives us more time."
"We'll see in another couple of weeks," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said Sunday. "Stay tuned."
Said Ravens coach John Harbaugh: "I would say it's possible. We can't put Ray out there until he's ready to win those battles. But if it can be done, yes, we want to do it."