CLEVELAND – Ed Reed is accustomed to burning the Cleveland Browns, exploiting their miscues with his superior instincts.
Sunday was no different as he intercepted two key passes to lock up a 20-10 victory and a playoff berth.
What the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year isn’t used to is being engulfed in flames during a football game, so he didn’t know how to take it initially when a teammate informed him that he was on fire in the bench area.
“They didn’t say literally,” Reed said.
Positioning himself close to a giant sideline heater, the back of Reed’s jacket caught on fire and began smoking. Luckily, Reed wasn’t hurt as he jumped up and took off the coat.
Reed had just told Ravens coach John Harbaugh to be careful around the heaters.
“The guys were like, ‘Ed’s on fire,’” Reed said. “It came right after me and coach were talking about him staying warm. You’ve got to be smart trying to stay warm.”
Reed’s hot performance on the field was what matter the most as he kept Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy guessing all day, baiting him into several mistakes.
“I think you’ve got your hook for your story,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Ed was on fire, he really was on fired. He just played so well. He’s such a factor back there, run game and pass game.”
Reed did make one nearly costly mistake, though, after his second interception.
His fourth-quarter lateral intended for cornerback Lardarius Webb fell on the ground, but Webb recovered the errant pitch.
“You will probably never hear me say this, but dumb decision,” Reed said. “I was hanging deep, really just doing my job, reading the quarterback, really just being in the right place at the right time, but securing the ball is first and foremost.”
Webb just regretted that he didn’t get the opportunity to run with the football.
“With Ed Reed, you just knew it,” Webb said. “I’m just wondering why, out of all of his pitches, the pitch to me had to be the bad pitch? I wanted it so bad, but he pitched the bad one to me. I mean I was going to make some room, I was going to make at least 30 more yards, but he didn’t pitch it right. He had a great game.”
A six-time Pro Bowl safety, Reed has made a habit of victimizing the Browns.
Teammates tend to forgive his indiscretions and risks he takes with the football after interceptions.
He has six interceptions for the season to lead the team despite missing the first six games of the season on the physically unable to perform list following offseason hip surgery.
“Ed Reed is one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “Ed, ‘Just kneel on it.’”
Reed overcame a sprained ankle suffered on his first interception, remaining in the game after he got it retaped.
When I went to get up, the guy fell back on my ankle and rolled it a bit. I just had to walk it off. When it’s cold, injuries tend to hurt a little more. I’m not getting any younger. I just had to walk it off. Felt like I could stay in.
Cornerback Chris Carr had a bit of fun at Reed’s expense, saying it looked like he was dancing when his jacket caught on fire.
“He was like Puff Daddy out there dancing around,” Carr said. “He’s still making videos. He still sells records.”
COX LIKELY OUT FOR THE SEASON: Rookie long snapper Morgan Cox is likely out for the remainder of the season after suffering a major injury to his left knee.
It’s feared that he has a torn ligament, but a magnetic resonance imaging exam will be conducted today to confirm that initial diagnosis. If that’s the case, the Ravens will need to sign a new long snapper before Wednesdays’ practice and place Cox on injured reserve.
“The doctors are going to tell me tomorrow,” said Cox, who was on crutches and had his knee wrapped afterward. “This is extremely disappointing obviously. I’m trying to stay hopeful and maybe somehow it wasn’t as bad as they say it is.”
Cox remained in the game despite the injury.
“It hurt, it hurt a lot, but we braced it up and we got through the snapping part of it,” Cox said. “It’s part of the game. I’m not mad about it.”
Meanwhile, linebacker Tavares Gooden dislocated his left shoulder again.
He did so earlier this year against the Cincinnati Bengals, sidelining him for five games.
Gooden said the shoulder was popped back in and he was able to stay in the game.
“I’m about to go holler at the trainers right now,” Gooden said. “I just had a little slight injury and kept fighting through it. It’s a little pain.”
Rookie tight end Dennis Pitta incurred his second concussion of the year, but hopes to return soon.
He got hurt on the opening kickoff.
“It happens in football,” Pitta said “I feel pretty normal and hope to get back in there as soon as possible.”
Wide receiver Derrick Mason re-injured his sprained ankle, but wasn’t hurt badly enough to trigger serious concern.
CONTAINING CRIBBS: Browns Pro Bowl kick returner Josh Cribbs averaged only 8.5 yards per punt return and 25.2 yards per kickoff return, lower numbers than his usual production against the Ravens.
He did have a 37-yard kickoff return.
The best moment for the Ravens’ special teams was cornerback Cary Williams decking Cribbs for no gain on a punt in the second half after punter Sam Koch boomed it 50 yards.
“He’s a dynamic returner, a great returner, and definitely one of those guys that can take it to the house at any moment,” Williams said. “I just wanted to get up close to him as much as possible. Koch gave me great hang time and it was just a bang-bang play.”
TEMPERS FLARE: Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson argued with Browns fullback Lawrence Vickers and Johnson’s temper flared in a confrontation with outside linebacker Matt Roth before kickoff.
During the game, fullback Le’Ron McClain and nose guard Travis Ivey exchanged shoves.
“We had a little confrontation,” Suggs said. “ I think we gave the fans what they wanted to see. They wanted to see a physical football game and Cleveland always plays us tough. You can’t discredit the Browns.”
MAKING AMENDS: Cornerback Chris Carr redeemed himself after allowing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Brian Robiskie in the first quarter on a trick play.
Carr spun and didn’t make a play on the ball, misjudging the throw from wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
Later on, he forced a fumble with his tackle on Massaquoi to set up a Joe Flacco touchdown pass.
“On the trick play, I had a feeling it was going to be pass when I saw Seneca Wallace in there,” Carr said. “I read it. I just kind of misread the direction of the ball. I thought he was going to throw it a little differently. It’s kind of disappointing when you know a play is coming and you don’t defend it. It happens. The guy made a great play.”
Carr didn’t sulk, though, coming back to make a big defensive play.
“Yeah, it felt good,” he said. “You always want to bounce back and do something that’s going to put some points on the board. When you give up seven points, you want to go out there and do something.”
MEANINGFUL WIN: In the NFL for eight years, veteran defensive end Cory Redding had never played for a winning team before on the professional level.
Now, he’s part of a playoff team for the first time.
“I waited a long, long, long time for this,” Redding said. “You know what, man, I’m just beside myself. I’m enjoying every second of this. It’s a blessing to stay long enough in this league to experience truly what winning is all about.”
STREAKS CONTINUE: For Johnson, Sunday marked his 112th consecutive game.
That breaks former Ravens outside linebacker Peter Boulware’s club record for durability.
Meanwhile, the Ravens haven’t allowed a touchdown in the third quarter in 24 consecutive games.
That’s the longest streak in the NFL since 1933.
QUICK HITS: Tight end Todd Heap tested out his pulled right hamstring before kickoff, but opted to wait until next week to try to play in a game. Heap has missed the past three games since hurting his leg against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heap said Friday that he wanted to be careful so as to not re-injure himself. "Definitely, I’ve been thinking about that this whole time," Heap said. "I went through it a couple years back, four years ago, and when I did it the first time, I came back too early and probably hurt myself and ended up missing a lot of that season.”…. The Ravens also deactivated fullback Jason McKie, tight end Davon Drew, defensive tackles Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens, linebacker Jason Phillips, wide receiver David Reed (concussion) and safety Tom Zbikowski (bulging disc in his back). … The Ravens’ game captains were safety Haruki Nakamura, a Cleveland native, wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth, who used to play for the Browns, guard Chris Chester and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. … The Ravens used Stallworth as a decoy, faking a reverse to him and handing it off to Ray Rice. “Yeah, we worked on that decoy play in practice for a while,” Stallworth said. “We tried to switch them up.” Stallworth played for the Browns until being cut last year after a year-long NFL suspension. This was an emotional game for him. “A little bit because I made a lot of friends here on the team and people in the organization,” Stallworth said. “It’s been a time for me where you get to learn about different guys as you go on and there’s a lot of good guys on that team.” … The Browns’ scratches included: wide receivers Jordan Norwood and Carlton Mitchell, tight end Robert Royal, linebacker Eric Alexander, quarterback Jake Delhomme and defensive linemen Brian Sanford, Ko Quaye and Jayme Mitchell.