Former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 3. Which moments stand out during his 11-year Ravens career?
1. Sept. 30, 2002: Reed’s First Big Game
The Ravens’ 34-23 victory against the Denver Broncos is best remembered for Ray Lewis’ crushing block against the Broncos’ Keith Burns that triggered Chris McAlister’s 107-yard touchdown scamper after a missed field goal, but the game also featured Reed’s first interception and blocked punt as a Raven. Reed blocked a punt by Denver’s Tom Rouen, which set the Ravens up deep in Broncos territory and led to a Jamal Lewis touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Reed, who had 21 interceptions at Miami, picked off Broncos quarterback Brian Griese for the first of 64 regular-season interceptions in the NFL.
2. Nov. 10, 2002: To The 20, To The 15, To The … Oops
Reed had two interceptions during the Ravens’ 38-27 win against the Cincinnati Bengals, and one of them proved to be a prescient peek at Reed’s breathtaking big-play ability and flirtations with peril. In the second quarter, Reed picked off Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna and was well on his way to returning it 54 yards for a touchdown, but he lifted the ball in celebration before he even got to the Bengals’ 10-yard line. Cincinnati receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh stripped Reed, and the Bengals recovered it in the end zone.
3. Oct. 12, 2003: Blocked Punt In The Desert
The kickoff temperature when the Ravens played the Arizona Cardinals in Tempe, Ariz., was 96 degrees, and the announced attendance was 24,193. Those who did brave the heat saw the Ravens defeat the Cardinals, 26-18, without the benefit of an offensive touchdown. One of the Ravens’ scores came courtesy of Reed, who blocked a punt by Arizona’s Scott Player, scooped up the ball and returned it 22 yards for a 16-7 Ravens lead.
4. Nov. 23, 2003: Sparking A Comeback
Ahead 41-24 with about seven minutes left in regulation, the Seattle Seahawks appeared on the verge of a big road win in Baltimore. But Reed blocked a punt by Tom Rouen, the same punter who provided Reed’s first blocked punt as a pro. Reed returned the block for a touchdown, sparking a wild, 44-41, overtime win.
5. Oct. 10, 2004: Strip, Sack, Touchdown
Reed won Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, and one of the plays that encompassed his season came during a Sunday night game in Landover, Md., against the Washington Redskins. With the Ravens down, 10-0, in the third quarter, Reed beat running back Ladell Betts around the edge, stripped quarterback Mark Brunell, picked the ball up and ran 22 yards for a touchdown. The play triggered a 17-10 Ravens win. “Ladell Betts just underestimated Ed Reed’s desire to get to the quarterback,” then-ESPN color commentator Joe Theismann said. “When you can’t match desire against desire, disaster happens.”
6. Nov. 7, 2004: Take A Knee? Better Not
If Reed’s touchdown against the Redskins told the story of his 2004 season, then so did his 106-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns. With the Ravens protecting a 20-13 lead and the Browns deep in Baltimore territory, quarterback Jeff Garcia threw over the middle to tight end Aaron Shea, who was covered by linebacker Ray Lewis. The ball was tipped and caught by Reed 6 yards deep in the end zone. Instead of taking a knee to ice the win — about a minute remained in the game — Reed ran it out and scored to push the Ravens’ victory to 24-10.
7. Nov. 14, 2004: Get Down!
One week later, Reed nearly had another 100-plus-yard return for a touchdown. The New York Jets were up, 14-0, in the second quarter when they tried to trick the Ravens with a halfback pass. LaMont Jordan pulled the trigger, but the ball was intercepted by Reed in the end zone. He returned it 104 yards, but his score was wiped out by a holding penalty on safety Will Demps. Ravens head coach Brian Billick’s reaction was shown in a 2005 NFL Films feature on Reed. “Get down, get down, get down!” Billick said after the interception. “Oh, God dang it, Ed,” he said as Reed brought it out. And then, as Reed streaked toward the end zone, Billick exclaimed, “Go Ed, go Ed, go Ed!”
8. Nov. 5, 2006: Miami Flashback
With the Ravens ahead, 7-0, against the Bengals, quarterback Carson Palmer looked for receiver Chad Johnson at about midfield. The ball sailed over Johnson’s head as Reed lurked nearby searching for a big hit. The pass was picked off by cornerback Samari Rolle, who returned it to the 25-yard line. As he was about to be tackled, Reed took the ball from Rolle and scored a touchdown. It was reminiscent of a play Reed made during his senior year at Miami in 2001 when the Hurricanes were playing at Boston College. Reed pulled the ball away from defensive tackle Matt Walters after an interception and ran 80 yards for a touchdown.
9. Jan. 13, 2007: Picking Off An All-Time Great Twice … To No Avail
The Ravens’ 15-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round of the 2006 playoffs is one of the most devastating losses in team history, but Reed showed off his greatness during that game against Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who would win his first Super Bowl three weeks later. Reed picked off Manning twice, part of a defensive effort that saw Baltimore’s top-ranked defense hold Manning to 170 yards passing.
10. Nov. 23, 2008: Record-Setting Return
With the Ravens beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 22-7, in the fourth quarter and quarterback Donovan McNabb benched, backup Kevin Kolb marched the Eagles down the field in hopes of cutting into the Ravens’ lead. But Kolb’s pass into the end zone for receiver Reggie Brown was picked off by Reed, who returned it 107 yards for a touchdown, evading Kolb, running back Brian Westbrook and tight end Brent Celek along the way. It remains the longest interception return ever.
11. Jan. 4, 2009: First Playoff Win
It wasn’t until his seventh season that Reed experienced his first playoff win with the Ravens, who beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-9, in the wild-card round during the 2008 season. Reed picked off Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington twice, including one he returned 64 yards for a touchdown. “It felt like the 200 in track,” Reed said after the game. “I don’t think I caught my breath until the third quarter.”
12. Jan. 10, 2010: Playoff Lateral
The Ravens earned a quick 21-0 lead against the New England Patriots in the wild-card round during the 2009 season, then Reed made his mark. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw down the right sideline for receiver Sam Aiken. The ball was tipped, Reed caught it at the Ravens’ 41-yard line and ran down the sideline toward the end zone. He was stopped at the Patriots’ 33-yard line, but not before he pitched the ball to safety Dawan Landry, who made it down to the 10. An NFL Network feature revealed head coach John Harbaugh’s take on the play. “Yeah! Score! Score, Eddie! Score, Eddie!” Harbaugh said after the interception, and as Reed began to lateral, the coach said, “Put it away, Ed. No! Put it away!” After Landry was tackled, Harbaugh told a few people on the sideline, “You hear what I said? I said, ‘No, no, yes!'”
13. Jan. 9, 2011: An Emotional Playoff Win
Shortly before the Ravens’ wild-card playoff game against the Chiefs in Kansas City, Reed found out his brother, Brian, had passed away at the age of 29. Brian Reed jumped into the Mississippi River after an encounter with a sheriff’s deputy in Louisiana, and an autopsy later revealed the cause of death to be accidental drowning. Ed Reed played in the playoff game, a 30-7 Ravens victory. Reed laid a huge hit on Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster in the second quarter.
14. Feb. 3, 2013: Super Bowl Interception
Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers — in his hometown of New Orleans — marked Reed’s final game as a Raven. With the Ravens holding a 14-3 lead in the second quarter, Reed recorded his ninth and final postseason interception — this one against 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The pick was part of an effort that led to a 21-6 halftime lead, but …
15. Feb. 3, 2013: Goal-Line Stand
… winning the Super Bowl required a goal-line stand, which turned out to be the final act of Reed’s Ravens career. On fourth-and-goal from the Ravens’ 5-yard line, Kaepernick floated the potential go-ahead touchdown pass to receiver Michael Crabtree, who was covered by cornerback Jimmy Smith. Reed ran toward Crabtree after the snap and lifted his arms in celebration as the pass fell incomplete. Reed revealed on “Undeniable with Joe Buck” in 2018 that he was supposed to blitz on the play but suspected Kaepernick was going to target Crabtree. “When you’re reaching for a goal, when you’re reaching for something and you’ve studied it and you’ve done your due diligence,” Reed said, “believe it. Believe it. Trust it.”
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox
Issue 255: June/July 2019