During week five’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, Ray Lewis suffered torn triceps and ESPN commentators began using those dreaded three words: “season-ending injury.”

In Lewis’s case, those words were even worse than usual because “season ending” meant “career ending.” Several weeks later, the veteran linebacker—the marquee star of the Ravens roster since the team’s 1996 inception—announced he would be retiring from the game. But never doubt the will of a champion.

Lewis battled back from his injury and played in his final home game against the Indianapolis Colts—a 24-9 win—and Coach John Harbaugh sent Lewis onto the field to be the last line of defense in the victory formation.

After Joe Flacco took a knee to end the game, Lewis got one last opportunity to do his signature pre-game “squirrel dance” in the middle of the field at M&T Bank Stadium.

Of course, as it turned out, this wouldn’t be Lewis’s last hoorah moment, as he helped lead his team to a Super Bowl victory and was able to parade through the streets of Baltimore, Lombardi Trophy held high.

“And now, I get to ride off into the sunset with my second ring.”—Ray Lewis