ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Two future Hall-of-Famers will stand directly across from one another on Saturday when the Broncos possess the ball.
Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis will go head-to-head for the final time in a Divisional Round matchup at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Before the postseason began, Lewis announced that this would be his "last ride."
"The greatest at their position, ever," safety Rahim Moore said. "The passion. They don't take any days off… They love the game, and it shows."
Manning, who said his respect for Lewis has been "well documented," views the legendary linebacker just as Moore does - a constant in the NFL for many years who loves the game as much as anybody that has ever played it.
"He's a tremendous player whose intensity, whose passion has not changed one bit since 1998 -- the first year I played against him," Manning said before the teams met in Week 15. "Which is pretty impressive for a guy in his 17th year."
Lewis said he distinctly remembers every game he has played against Manning. They stand out to him because he knows a game against No. 18 will likely go down to the very end, and it will be a game that everybody remembers - not just him.
"We're always in those close games playing against each other and it's just those classic memories that you always pull back and reminisce about when the game is done," Lewis said. "The warrior side of me, playing against him time and time again, it's just one heck of a battle."
With 24 Pro Bowls between the two - 12 a piece - only four players in NFL history have earned more selections. Manning is the only player to win four NFL MVP's, and Lewis is one of six players to earn multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards. Both have Lombardi Trophies and Super Bowl MVPs to boot.
Head Coach John Fox said there are "without a doubt" similarities between the two when it comes to their leadership abilities.
"I think there is no doubt that they can raise all boats," the coach added.
Their career accolades go toe-to-toe with one another's, but when their teams have matched up, Manning has had the edge over Lewis' Ravens. The quarterback hasn't lost to the Ravens since 2001, winning nine consecutive contests against the club. In that span, he has thrown 15 touchdowns to six interceptions and has topped a 90.0 passer rating six times.
Manning isn't letting his past success against Baltimore factor into his preparation, and Lewis isn't allowing it to be a concern, either.
"It's a whole new game now," Lewis said. "There are so many people who have never played Peyton before who are on this team, outside of a couple weeks ago. I don't think you're able to get into that scenario because that scenario's irrelevant. The only thing that's relevant right now is if we win this week."
If Lewis and the Ravens don't find a way to come to Denver and beat the Broncos, it will mark the end of an illustrious career. If that's the case, Manning will - at some point - "share a moment" with Lewis about the career he has had.
"I think sometimes when you say it in front of a lot of people, it's not quite the same and as personal," Manning said. "I think Ray Lewis knows how I feel about him and I think I'll share that with him at the appropriate time."