Ray Lewis' career ended while protecting his goal line. After 17 years of keeping offenses from penetrating his end zone, the linebacker would have it no other way.

The Ravens topped the 49ers, 34-31, last night in Super Bowl XLVII, and Lewis walked into a confetti-filled sunset with his second championship. The anticipated retirement march concluded at the Superdome, where a wild, controversial week ended in bliss.

"What better way to go out?" Lewis said. "I was tested through this journey. It was an up-and-down roller coaster, the injuries, the people, and we stayed together."

Lewis was the only Raven standing from Baltimore's victory in Super Bowl XXXV. As he walked out the door, he left with first-time champions such as safety Ed Reed, linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and MVP quarterback Joe Flacco.

Lewis wasn't a defensive demon in the game, amassing seven tackles (four solo), but the chance to close it out on a defensive series, particularly after the 49ers raced up and down the field throughout the second half, was harmonious for an organization that is as old as Lewis' career.

"It's unbelievable," Flacco said. "Ray is a great person, and everyone knows he's an unbelievable football player, but he's the best teammate. It's unbelievable to send him out like this. The reason for that is he just wanted us all to feel what it feels like to win this thing."

The 49ers appeared completely harmless while falling behind 28-6, but they scored on four consecutive possessions in the second half. They failed to tie the game after Colin Kaepernick's two-point conversion pass to Randy Moss sailed through the end zone. And when they attempted to take the lead in the final two minutes, Kaepernick's last three tosses from the 5-yard line hit the turf.