Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Reed heads home

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OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens star free safety Ed Reed traveled via a private jet to Louisiana to be with his grieving family in the wake of a tragedy involving his younger brother.

Brian Reed remains missing after leaping into the Mississippi River to elude police, and authorities have called off the search after only finding his jacket and shoes.

And Ravens coach John Harbaugh indicated that Reed will be allowed as much time as he needs to deal with his personal situation in his hometown of St. Rose, La., while the team gets ready for an AFC divisional playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday at Heinz Field.

"We’ve left that up to Ed," Harbaugh said. "I know that Ed knows this team inside and out. We haven’t talked to him yet today. So I think it’s going to kind of depend on the circumstances down there, what he feels he needs to do with his family. But we’ll give him a lot of leeway."

A former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Reed and his family were awarded the game ball Sunday on behalf of the team. Reed recorded four tackles, including a crushing hit on rookie Dexter McCluster.

Reed said that his brother would want the Ravens to beat the Steelers.

Brian Reed had a history of problems with drugs and alcohol, according to his mother, Karen Reed.

"My older brother called me and told me, ‘Do what you do, you handle your business, we’ll take care of everything over here,’" Reed said. "It was a matter of being focused and being around my second family. I’m really thankful for all of the prayers from around the world and for the guys just being my teammates, just being a family and gathering around you and giving you strength.

"There’s a bigger picture to life than this child’s game we play here. These guys helped keep me focused and kept my head in the right place, and talking to my mom and my dad. I know they’re being strong right now."

RAVENS BRINGING THE HEAT: The last time the Ravens saw Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger he had a broken nose, courtesy of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata accidently swatting him in the face.

Ngata was fined $15,000.

The Ravens have no intentions of holding back against Roethlisberger.

"We’re going to try to get after him like we always do," Harbaugh said. "It’s going to be real important, and he knows that. That’s a key to stopping him. You’ve got to get him down. You can’t let him extend plays, and if he does extend plays, you’ve got to cover those guys, and that’s easier said than done."

Harbaugh and Roethlisberger share an alma mater: Miami of Ohio.

And Harbaugh has a lot of respect for the Super Bowl winning quarterback.

"He’s a Miami guy," Harbaugh said. "He’s a tough guy. He had the broken nose. I was glad we broke his nose and then I was very impressed that he played through it. Obviously, you can throw very effectively with a broken nose. He proved that."

IMPRESSED BY FLACCO: Hands down, it was the top playoff outing of quarterback Joe Flacco’s three NFL season.

He set a career-high with 265 passing yards and two touchdowns during a 30-7 win over the Kansa City Chiefs, recording a 115.4 quarterback rating.

It was an entirely different type of game than his previous playoff totals of one touchdown and six interceptions.

"It’s whatever is called on to win the game," Flacco said. "I don’t know if we ever came out and done what we’ve did today but could have. I could have. We just didn’t do it. We’re going to do whatever we need to do to win football games and that’s all I’m worried about."

Sacked four times, Flacco still managed to engineer several scoring drives and connected with tight end Todd Heap 10 times for 108 yards as he set franchise postseason records for receptions and receiving yards.

"Joe was stone cold out there," offensive guard Ben Grubbs said. "No matter how many times he got hit, he’s always a stone-cold killer back there. The way he performed was unbelievable."

Usually reluctant to make comparisons or define what a game means to a player, Harbaugh said this was a special game for Flacco.

"I’d like to probably stand here and say it’s no big deal and Joe will probably say it’s not a big deal, but I was happy for him," Harbaugh said. "I thought for him to come up in a playoff game, and he’s had a few of those and he’s always played well enough to win three times before this, so that’s been a big plus for us, but I thought he kind of took the game over at times during the course of the game.

"And that was really good to see. That’s positive. This week’s a whole new challenge. I don’t think you can take anything from one week to the next, and it was also guys stepping up and playing well around him, receivers making plays, offensive line, coaches putting guys in position. All those things, I think, Joe would tell you are a part of it."

ASKING FOR A REVIEW: The Ravens turned in a couple of plays to the league office.

Namely, Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher’s helmet-to-helmet shot on quarterback Joe Flacco and defensive end Tyson Jackson placing tight end Todd Heap in a headlock.

"We saw both of those on film," Harbaugh said. "We sent those into the league. The helmet-to-helmet on the slide, Joe is protected at that point from a head shot. And then the other one, that speaks for itself. Everybody saw that.

"I thought our guys did a good job of keeping their poise. From that perspective, I was proud of the way they kept their poise. For the most part, walked back to the huddle. We encourage them to do it. You can only take so much sometimes. I thought they did a good job of not getting penalized."

Operating as a bodyguard for his teammate, offensive tackle Michael Oher intervened on Heap’s behalf.

"It looked like he was trying to take his helmet off," Oher said. "I don’t know what he was doing. You can’t have that on a teammate. We’re a family."

NGATA WAS LIMITED: Ngata dealt with a painful bruised thigh against the Chiefs and didn’t record a tackle.

"I couldn’t really get off the ball," Ngata said. "It was real sore and stiff. It loosened up, but it took a while to warm up."

Ngata missed a tackle while off balance on Jamaal Charles’ 41-yard touchdown run.

"I tried to get a hand on him," Ngata said. "He’s a great running back."

As the game progressed, Ngata’s play improved.

"Yeah, I thought he moved around well," Harbaugh said. "It probably did take him a while. I think he probably wasn’t quite as explosive, maybe, as he is at other times. Toward the end of the game, he was. He came through it well, so it looks like he’s in good shape."

SCRATCHED: The Ravens deactivated rookie kickoff returner David Reed (torn wrist ligament) and inside linebacker Tavares Gooden (dislocated left shoulder), but their status could change Saturday.

"We had some guys that were just more healthy," Harbaugh said. "I think David can go. He’s getting better at catching the ball and stuff. He made a lot of progress last week.

"Tavares could’ve played, but the more healthy guy probably gave us a little more at that point. So, we’ll just see how it is this week."

MOUNT CODY ERUPTS: Rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody caused a fumble when he engulfed Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles with the loose football recovered by Brandon McKinney.

It was arguably the top play Cody has made since being drafted in the second round out of Alabama.

"It’s big," Cody said. "When you make plays like that, you earn the guys’ respect. I earned a lot of respect in the locker room and they trust you more. It’s one of the biggest plays I’ve made, and it was in the playoffs and right at the right time."

The Chiefs ran a stretch play and Cody caught up with Charles, stuffing his upper body with his 6-foot-4, 360-pound frame.

"He cut back and I came from behind and grabbed his arms and stripped him," Ngata said. "I fell on top and laid on him. I just laid on him the whole play until they recovered the fumble."

TUCK RULE: Harbaugh joked about not understanding the tuck rule.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb slapped the football away from quarterback Matt Cassel, but an instant replay challenge overturned the initial fumble call and it was ruled an incompletion.

"When that happened, my thoughts on the tuck rule were, ‘What’s the tuck rule, again? How does that work?’" Harbaugh said. "Little bit confusing. It looked like a fumble to me. The tuck rule, that’s one of the more confusing rules in football."

Under the rules, a quarterback’s throwing motion starts when he cocks back to throw and doesn’t end until it’s tucked into his body.

"I thought it was a fumble," Webb said. "It was a good hustle play. It was all set up by Paul Kruger. He helped me get open."

QUICK HITS: Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali lived up to his reputation, sacking Flacco twice. "Tamba Hali, he’s a man," Oher said. "He comes to play and he plays every down. That’s the kind of game it is in the playoffs." … Harbaugh said the team never considered placing backup quarterback Marc Bulger into the game for the first time this season with the game in hand against Kansas City. "No, because there was nothing we were going to be able to do with him that would really help us," Harbaugh said. "There wouldn’t be any point in it at that point." … Running back Willis McGahee celebrated his 25-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter by mimicking the Chiefs’ tomahawk chop in the end zone. "I saw their fans doing that and I felt like I needed to do that and see what that was all about," McGahee said. "When we were coming in, everybody was doing it. I wanted to see what it felt like. It reminded me of Florida State and I really don’t like Florida State. Some of the fans were trash talking." … The Steelers have been installed as a three-point favorite.


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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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