Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore holds send-off rally for the home team

Twelve years ago to the day of their team's last Super Bowl win, Baltimore Ravens fan rallied in downtown Baltimore.

Thousands of fans greeted the AFC championship team as they rolled into the Inner Harbor. The cheers were loudest for soon-to-be-retired linebacker Ray Lewis.

“This is the best way for Ray Lewis to go out,” says Ravens fan Captain Dee-Fennse. “There's no better way to go out when the confetti falls on the Ravens side and Ray Lewis rides off into the sunset.”

From the stage, Lewis thanked the fans.

“We did this in 2000 and we're not going to New Orleans for nothing else but to bring back another ring back to Baltimore where it belongs!” Lewis told the excited crowd.

Superfan Matt Andrews is just days away from leaving for the Big Easy.

“12 years I waited for this and I'm there,” he says. “I will be there Friday morning and I'll be there for the Super Bowl. I can't wait.”

As the Ravens' charter plane came to a stop on the tarmac at Louis Armstrong International Airport on Monday, a purple Ravens flag was held up against the cockpit window by one of the pilots.

Coach John Harbaugh was among the first off the plane, wearing a dark suit and striped tie. He smiled and nodded at onlookers as he descended the stairs from the plane, then gave an airport worker a friendly pat on the shoulder.

Most Ravens players wore suits and ties and walked matter-of-factly from the plane to a waiting bus without gesturing in any noticeable way. Ray Lewis looked professorial in a gray suit and glasses as he strode with purpose across the tarmac without any of his usual flamboyant antics.

The 49ers arrived Sunday night. The Super Bowl is Sunday at the Superdome.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.