Ravens thankful for warm sendoff from fans in Baltimore

NEW ORLEANS - Unless they were among the lucky ones to get Super Bowl tickets, Monday's Inner Harbor rally was the fans' last chance to wish their Ravens well.

And according to the many news outlets in attendance, thousands gathered to send the Ravens off to New Orleans, where they'll spend the week preparing for the title tilt with the 49ers.

Several players were touched by the turnout.

"Oh, yeah, it was something, it was a lot of fun," quarterback Joe Flacco told reporters in New Orleans. "It was cool to see how many people in Baltimore showed up and really are in our corner. It also gave you a sense of how cool it would be if we can come down here and do the job the way we expect to. It gave you a sense of how cool it will be when we return."

Running back Ray Rice shared similar feelings.

"Today our fans just showed us that they've always had our back, but it was raining and cold in Baltimore, and I think the streets were just jam packed flooded," Rice told reporters. "They really just showed us today what it really is all about. They're just proud of us, and we thank them because they come out there every week - ups, downs, highs and lows - and that's what we get to look forward to, our fans. That's who we have to answer to, and we just want to make them happy."

Linebacker Ray Lewis wasn't too surprised by the fans' support.

"That's Baltimore, man. That city is awesome, and today's sendoff was absolutely electric," Lewis told reporters. "To feel that feeling again, and to answer all of the questions the guys had, like, 'Oh my gosh, I didn't know it was going to feel like this,' and to see their faces. I told John (Harbaugh) and a couple of other guys, 'This feeling is great, and the sendoff was awesome, but there is nothing better than coming home as world champions. That is what we are here for, to bring a world championship back to Baltimore.

"Honestly, all week you heard guys talking like, 'Man, I can't believe we are here. We made it, we made it.' Today, it actually confirmed for a lot of people that it's real. It's really real. Now, you have to really realize that there are two teams left. There is no next week. Whoever wins this game will feel the confetti dropping. It is one of the most ultimate feelings I have ever felt in my life. I would love to really experience that with these guys."