At about 1:30 Wednesday afternoon, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, clad in a red jersey, calmly walked into the team’s indoor practice facility and began throwing some warmup tosses.
Less than a minute later, safety Ed Reed came out and veered to the right, joining the rest of the Ravens’ defensive backs.
The two high-profile Ravens spoke Wednesday to clear the air following critical comments that Reed made about the highly-scrutinized quarterback on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday. Reed said that Flacco “was kind of rattled” and “just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense” in the Ravens’ 20-13 victory over the Houston Texans in an AFC divisional playoff game last Sunday.
Reed also said that Flacco, along with the rest of the team, needs to play better on Sunday to beat the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
Flacco, who learned of the comments Tuesday night while he was watching television during dinner, admitted that he was initially “caught off guard.”
“I talked to Ed about it. It was a little funny to me … but it is what it is,” said Flacco on Wednesday . “We talked about it. It’s not really that big of a deal. When I first saw it, I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ But like I said, we talked about it. We’re a team around here. It’s not really that big of an issue. I don’t really take things that bad. It is what it is.”
Reed did not make himself available for comment during the Ravens’ open locker room Wednesday , but he told ESPN that he left Flacco a voice mail Tuesday night and the quarterback text messaged him back, “I’m cool.”
“There's always a method to the madness,” Reed said to ESPN. “My teammates, I think and know they understand me as a player and as a teammate. I don't think they would take anything out of context what I said. If they do, it's got to be motivation to prove me wrong. … I don’t think I offended Joe in any way.”
Still, the Pro Bowl safety’s comments were the prevailing theme four days before they play the Patriots with a Super Bowl trip on the line. Questions about it led off the media sessions with coach John Harbaugh, Flacco and linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs.
“I understand where Ed’s heart’s at, and all our guys when they say things,” said Harbaugh who did speak to Reed about his comments . “We’re together all the time. We know each other, we understand where each other are coming from. I’m sure there are some things he would have liked to have said a little better. If you look at the whole context and hear the tone of his voice, I think the message he was trying to communicate was a good message. But obviously … the way you read them and stuff like that, I’m sure he’s not too happy about that.”
The player’s responses fluctuated from playful – “He said that? I don’t watch television,” said linebacker Jameel McClain – to relative indifference.
“Ed’s Ed,” said right guard Marshal Yanda. “I’ll tell you right now, like anything in the locker room, we’re not worried about it. And I’m sure Joe’s not and Ed’s not, and I’m sure that [his comments] got twisted a little bit and now everybody’s trying to blow it up. It’s not a big deal. I’m sure Ed is behind Joe all the way. Ed wouldn’t do anything to be detrimental to the team a week before we play the AFC championship game. It’s in one ear and out the other. I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about New England, and we’ll be moving forward.”
Middle linebacker Ray Lewis also used it as an opportunity to issue a vehement defense of his quarterback who again finds himself as the target of much criticism heading into a playoff game.
“I think I’m more shocked just how people can speak about somebody who is just a flat-out winner,” Lewis said. “There’s no one side to anything. There’s no one player that makes one team great. It takes a team effort. … A lot of things that people always try to put on the quarterback, I understand it. But it ain’t about our quarterback. It’s about the Baltimore Ravens and we’re a complete team. We win as a team, and we lose as a team.
“I haven’t heard exactly what [Reed] said, but it’s not an issue. The only issue we have as a team is going up and trying to get a big win in Foxborough because anything else that everybody wants to bring up at this point is irrelevant. And everybody in the locker room is thinking the same way.”
Flacco went 14-for-27 for 176 yards and two touchdown passes against the Texans. He fumbled once – it was recovered by Ravens’ left guard Ben Grubbs – and was sacked five times by a relentless Houston pass rush.
Harbaugh called it a “winning performance,” noting that Flacco’s quarterback rating was over 97. However, the Ravens know that both Flacco and the offense will have to be much better to have a chance against the Patriots.
“Joe is always called out, and Joe’s a great man in how he carries himself. If he’s called out, he just takes it to the field. Joe’s a proven winner, and he’s going to continue to win in this game,” said tight end Ed Dickson. “We’ve got Joe’s back 100 percent, and Joe knows that. Whatever he does, we have his back.”