Poorly timed pitch and all, Reed has a Reed-like day

Ravens safety Ed Reed wowed fans with two interceptions, but his teammates are accustomed to it

December 26, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

CLEVELAND — — Ed Reed conceded that what he was about to say regarding his ill-advised lateral in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' win against the Cleveland Browns was somewhat unprecedented for him.

"You will probably never hear me say this, but — dumb decision," Reed said pointedly.

That mistake was perhaps the only one in what was another impressive (to fans and media) but typical (to Reed and his teammates) performance for the six-time Pro Bowl free safety.

Reed caught two interceptions, recorded three tackles, and generally terrorized rookie quarterback Colt McCoy in the Ravens' 20-10 victory over the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

His second interception and subsequent 32-yard return with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter essentially cemented the team's win and third consecutive trip to the playoffs.

It was another effort that teammates such as outside linebacker Terrell Suggs are fully accustomed to.

"Ed Reed was doing what I like to say is getting those stats," Suggs said. "He was getting those stats today. He's definitely, hands down one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game. … He was out there getting those stats and the defense was dialed in. So we had a pretty good day on defense."

After his first interception it appeared as though Reed might not get the chance to make another. He picked off a McCoy deep pass intended for wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and returned it 20 yards to midfield, where he was tackled by Cleveland tight end Alex Smith. It looked like Smith rolled on top of Reed's left ankle..

Reed limped to the sideline, but after getting re-taped, he returned to the contest.

"It's that time of the year," Reed said. "Playoff atmosphere even though where we're at, it doesn't matter. … We knew it was going to be tough. Those guys hung around and gave themselves a chance. We just made a couple more plays to get over that hump."

Reed has registered six interceptions in just nine games since coming off the team's physically-unable-to-perform list after undergoing hip surgery in the offseason, and he is among the league leaders in that category.

More importantly, Reed's presence in the defensive backfield gives the cornerbacks a little more cushion to play more aggressively.

"He does take off a lot of pressure because you know that sometimes you can make a mistake, and he'll be there," cornerback Chris Carr said. "But we never go out there and take it for granted. You can't go out there and say, 'Hey, I'm going to play reckless and have Ed Reed get my back.' He is Superman, but he can't do everything. But he gives you a lot of confidence back there because you just know that he knows what he's doing, and if the ball's floated out there, you know he's going to catch it."

Coach John Harbaugh agreed with Carr, adding, "He's such a factor back there. If our corners play the way they've been playing, I think [secondary coach] Chuck Pagano has done a really good job on our back end. We're playing fundamentally very well. That allows Ed to capitalize on his talents. It just makes a big difference."

Carr speculated that Reed would be leading the NFL with 10 or 11 interceptions if he had been healthy enough to play the entire season, but Reed shrugged off a question of whether he has raised his Ievel of play this season.

"You're just doing your job," he said. "It's not about being better. Like I said, once I came off surgery, I wanted to make sure that I could be efficient like I've been in the past. Not totally 100 percent right now, but who's 100 percent this late in the season?"

Reed fell just short of a perfect grade with his wayward lateral, which was behind cornerback Lardarius Webb. Webb, who recovered the loose ball, said he was prepared for the lateral.

"With Ed Reed, you just knew it," Webb said. "But I'm just wondering why, out of all his pitches, the one he pitched to me had to be the bad pitch. I wanted it so bad, but he pitched the bad one to me."

Reed said he has learned his lesson.

"Securing the ball first and foremost, that's the most important thing," he said. "… You can't put yourself in jeopardy to lose the football."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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