The folks that stayed up to watch the game on TV last night are in slightly better shape, but they could have used the extra sleep. But this is one of those morning afters that you will sacrifice every day of the week.
The Ravens gave their twelfth man what they deserved last night, beating the heavily favored Denver Broncos 34-23 on Monday Night Football. The game was surreal from the get go and you knew something crazy was going to happen. Maybe there was a full moon out, maybe not. Maybe this game was played in the twilight zone.
Or the perhaps, the football gods just smiled down on the Ravens and their fans tonight, knowing how miserable the off-season and season had been up until this point.
If you happened to miss the game, oh boy, you missed a game.
There was Ray Lewis, the best defensive player in the game, doing what he does best: Seeking and destroying any ball carrier that came his way. He was everywhere, involved in every running play, every passing play. He separated rookie wideout Ashley Lelie from the football on a potential five yard gain to set the tone in the first half.
On a crucial 3rd down, Lewis corralled Brian Griese from across the field, after seemingly being out of the play completely. On the following drive, Lewis slammed any chances for the Broncos to score a TD, when he tripped up Griese coming off a delayed blitz up the middle, allowing rookie defensive end Tony Weaver to land the kill shot.
For good measure, Lewis also threw in an interception and one nasty block on Keith Burns that nearly decimated the unassuming tackler and helped spring Chris McAlister loose on a return. But his play last night wasn't surprising to the people that see #52 up close and personal each day. It should have quieted some of his critics though, which were many, including a certain former teammate who now hosts an NFL show on Fox.
"You have a linebacker you're paying $50 million to. At least have somebody up front to protect him a little bit so he doesn't get beat up," said Siragusa, now an analyst on The NFL Show on Fox Sports Net.
"In two years (when they're done rebuilding), he'll be worn out."
If Lewis is worn out, it'll be because he would have broken his own record for tackles made in a given season. At the pace that he is going now, Lewis will end up with 250.
Lewis made plays before Siragusa was a Raven, when Siragusa was a Raven and after. Like Lewis said earlier this week, no scheme can hold down a great, great player.
"You put an emphasis so much that we don't have big, big tackles, but I can do whatever I want to do on that field. It don't matter whether I'm in a 2-5 or 4-3 or 3-4."
The Broncos found that out for themselves first hand. So did the Panthers. So did the Buccaneers.
The Broncos also found out that you cannot take any opponent lightly no matter how you perceive them to be. Just ask the Saints, who lost a game to the hapless Lions on Sunday.
This league is just too close in the salary cap era and last night's game was further proof of that point.
This isn't to say that the Ravens can all of a sudden transform themselves into a solid team, even a seriously competitive one. Last night's game was clearly an aberration, where every thing that could happen, happened. Safety Ed Reed blocking a punt to help setup a score; a 108 yard return by McAlister for a TD score off of a blocked kick at the end of the first half; players on the Broncos side helping the Ravens to gain 57 yards on penalties alone to spark one TD drive.
The Ravens benefited greatly from all of these plays occurring. That doesn't mean that young Ravens wouldn't have won regardless, but it also doesn't change the fact that they will still be a 5-6 win team at best