Ray Lewis' value at LB virtually unmatched

AP Photo/Scott Boehm

Ray Lewis won the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2000 and 2003.Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced that he will retire after the 2012 playoffs.

Not many players in NFL history have had the defensive impact that Lewis has had during his career.

The former Miami Hurricane has been selected to 12 Pro Bowls, two shy of Bruce Matthews for the most all-time. Among active players, only Tony Gonzalez (13) has more. Among linebackers, Lewis and Junior Seau are tied with the most in history.

Lewis was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003. He is one of six player to win the award multiple times since it was first awarded in 1971, along with Hall of Famers Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Mike Singletary, Lawrence Taylor and Joe Greene.

Most Career Takeaways by LB
NFL History

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Jack Ham has more takeaways by a linebacker in NFL history.

Lewis was drafted by the Ravens with the 26th overall pick in 1996, the team’s first year in Baltimore. He has played in a 228 of the 272 regular-season games in franchise history. Gonzalez, Ronde Barber, London Fletcher and Patrick Mannelly are the only active non-kickers to appear in more games than Lewis. He is the only active position player to enter the league in 1996 or earlier.

Lewis has 41.5 sacks and 31 interceptions in his 17 seasons. He is the only player in NFL history to amass 40 sacks and 30 interceptions in a career (sacks became official in 1982). Among linebackers, only Seau and Clay Matthews have played more seasons than Lewis.

Even in his 17th NFL season, Lewis is still very valuable. Without him due to injury over the last 10 games, the Ravens defense hasn’t been the same.

Ravens Pass Defense This Season
When Sending 5+ Pass Rushers

Their pass defense has struggled when sending five or more pass rushers without Lewis, generating zero interceptions with such pressure since his injury. During that time, the Ravens have allowed a higher completion percentage, more yards per pass attempt and a higher QBR against added pressure.

Overall this season, the Ravens have actually been worse against the pass when Lewis has been on the field -- allowing one more yard per pass attempt -- but better against the run.

The Ravens will host the Colts in Sunday's AFC Wild Card Playoffs at 1 p.m. ET.