BALTIMORE (AP) -- There's no telling how effective Ray Lewis will be Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts after missing 12 weeks with a torn right triceps.
Fortunately, for the Ravens, he's already provided an emotional lift.
With his announcement that he will step into retirement after Baltimore completes its 2013 playoff run, Lewis gave the slumping Ravens a boost heading into their wild-card game.
"Just having him back on the field is an inspiration," Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees said.
There are plenty of engaging story lines for this game, which pits Baltimore's current NFL team against the one that left the city in a caravan of moving vans during a March 1984 snowstorm. The matchup features the return of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who served as the Ravens' defensive coordinator last year and is back on the sideline after being treated for leukemia.
But nothing is more noteworthy than the pending retirement of the 37-year-old Lewis, who has been Baltimore's starting middle linebacker for 17 years, or as long as the Ravens have been the Ravens.
On Sunday, the aged warrior will don his gear inside his home arena for perhaps one last time. Lewis will then emerge from the tunnel to perform his ceremonial dance, gyrating to the tune of Nelly's "Hot in Herre" for the fervent, appreciative crowd.
"That's when it's going to hit me the most," Ravens running back Ray Rice said. "That's when I think it's going to hit the city of Baltimore the most, that it could possibly be the last time coming through that tunnel. The emotions are going to be too rough to even think about, because Baltimore is Ray Lewis, and when he comes out of that tunnel, everybody is electrified."
Rookies lead Redskins, Seahawks
WASHINGTON -- How convenient. Those who can't decide between Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are literally getting a playoff.
RG3 or RW3? They've only had two of the best two rookie seasons for quarterbacks in NFL history, according to the numbers. Time to compare and contrast as much as possible Sunday as Griffin's Washington Redskins host Wilson's Seattle Seahawks in the NFC's wild-card round.
"I don't play against quarterbacks. It's not my job to compare us," Griffin told reporters this week. "You guys will do that. ... I hope you guys have fun."
OK, Robert, we'll take you up on that. Hey, Redskins Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, why is your guy better than theirs?
"I definitly would take his hair over Russell Wilson's hair," Williams said. "He's taller. He has a couple of more endorsements than Russell does. That gives you grounds enough to take RG3 over Wilson. Way cooler TV commercials."
Funny, but there might be some truth to that, at least when it comes to getting one's due. Griffin has the dreadlocks. Wilson has the regular, clean-cut hairdo. Griffin is in your face with his Gatorade commercials and the ubiquitous Subway spots. Wilson did a more subtle bit for Levi's.
Griffin won a Heisman Trophy, was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, was anointed as starter from Day 1 of training camp and was selected as a team captain at midseason. Wilson was a third-round pick who had to wrest the starting job from big-contract free agent Matt Flynn. Griffin's jersey is the No. 1 seller across the NFL this season, while Wilson's is a mere No. 19.
Griffin's slogan is "No pressure, no diamonds." Wilson's is "Separation is in the preparation." Unlike Griffin, Wilson hasn't bothered to trademark it.
"Even though they have totally different styles in how they carry themselves," Carroll said, "in the core, they're really the real deal."