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Peyton Manning vs. Ray Lewis: The last of a classic matchup?


Fifteen years have passed since the inaugural meeting between Ray lewis and Peyton Manning.

Good game. Somebody named Marshall Faulk ran for 193 yards.

Manning: 357 yards, three touchdowns. Maybe the finest outing of his rookie year.

But he lost the fourth quarter to the Ravens, their ferocious middle linebacker -- already on his way to a second Pro Bowl -- and the quarterback he replaced in Indianapolis. Jim Harbaugh.

Yes. The same Jim Harbaugh.

That was Nov. 29, 1998.

No Facebook. No Twitter.

You had a Discman and you listened to Pearl Jam on your jog.

AOL kept sending CDs promising 20 free hours, and General Motors introduced the Hummer.

Now, as a rule, technology ages more gracefully than that made of flesh and blood.

But here it is, nearly 2013, and you're hoping like hell for Ray Lewis to suit up against the Broncos this sunday. Two guys, defying not just injury, but time.

You know about Manning coming back from four neck surgeries.

But Lewis? A month ago, you're wondering if he's done for good.

You want to argue after 17 seasons he's not what he was? Fine.

I'll give you this: the Ravens were 5-1 with him. And 4-3 since.

They need this game. They need Ray Lewis.

In a season marked by comebacks, this would be the last, and perhaps, the most dramatic.

Makes you want to tell you your Instagram-ing kids to remove their earbuds.

This ain't no video game.

Manning vs. Lewis 2012.

This is fantasy football.

Follow Mark Kriegel on Twitter @markkriegel

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