TAMPA, Fla. — Ray Lewis answered all the questions on Sunday.

The Baltimore Ravens linebacker, NFL Defensive Player of the Year, gave his team a rallying point in the Super Bowl as he sat through a tough, week-long grilling from the media. He was often sullen, never repentant.

Then, on game day, he let out all the emotion with a defining defensive performance that led the Ravens to the NFL championship over the New York Giants, 34-7, and was voted the game's most valuable player.

Lewis came to Tampa, hoping to talk football, preferring to discuss a dominant Baltimore defense that had set an NFL record for a 16-game season by allowing only 165 points and then continued that in the playoffs by surrendering only one touchdown and 16 points in three games.

He would have liked to talk about 12 tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown in the divisional playoff against Tennessee, or seven tackles and a fumble recovery in the AFC championship game against Oakland.

Instead, he was cross-examined over and over about his trial following the murders of two men in Atlanta after last year's Super Bowl. Coach Brian Billick and his players tried to protect the big linebacker, tried to turn the questioning away from the Atlanta affair.

The trial was over, they said. Lewis had been acquitted, pleading guilty to a lesser charge. He had been fined $250,000 by the league, a punishment he has appealed. Now, move on and leave the man alone.

Still, the interrogation continued, and Lewis — a floppy hat pulled down tight over his forehead — sat through them.

On Sunday, there were no more questions, just a football game to be played. And Lewis has never needed any protection there.

Back in the environment where he has flourished, he terrorized the Giants' offense. He seemed to be all over the place, stuffing running plays, helping the secondary, deflecting a couple of passes, including one that turned into an interception. He was a constant presence on defense, one New York was never able to avoid.

Lewis shrugged off a Baltimore attack that struggled through five games back in October without scoring a touchdown. That anemic offense hardly disturbed him, he said. The Ravens' defenders couldn't control that. What they could control was how many touchdowns the other team scored.

He played defense the same way he talked it. "We don't give up points," Lewis said during the week. "So whatever you give us, three points, seven points, that will be enough for us."

He was right about that.

The only points the Giants scored came on a kickoff return. Lewis doesn't play on special teams, so there was nothing he could do about that.