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Texans LB Cushing ready to face off against boyhood idol Lewis

If Texans linebacker Brian Cushing is looking for an edge over contemporary Ray Lewis on Sunday in Baltimore, perhaps he can provide a gentle pregame reminder that he was an 8-year-old third grader when Lewis broke in as a rookie with the Ravens in 1996.

Cushing grew up idolizing Lewis, the iconic linebacker now in his 16th season.

"Ray's the best that's ever played," Cushing said Wednesday, according to the Houston Chronicle. "He's the guy I grew up watching. He's the guy I wanted to model my game after."

Cushing's done a good job of it. A second team All-Pro and team MVP this season, Cushing finished 2011 with 114 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and a pair of interceptions. He was the motor of Houston's defense during a season in which the Texans qualified for the playoffs for the first time in their 10-year history.

"I just think he plays with a very, very, very high motor," Lewis said of Cushing. "It's one special thing that every linebacker, a good linebacker, has to have. And that is one thing that I appreciate about the way he plays football."

Most people don't get the opportunity to affect the legacy of their boyhood idol, but that's the position Cushing will find himself in on Sunday. The Texans stand between Lewis and perhaps his last best chance to return to the Super Bowl for  a second time.

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