Ravens' Reed is a 'spectacular player'

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed isn't exactly enamored about discussing his special-teams prowess. He prefers demonstrations over explanations.

Reed returned a blocked punt 22 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Ravens' 26-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. That gives him three blocked punts in two seasons.

This was his second for a touchdown.

What made this one even more remarkable was how Reed managed to cleanly block Scott Player's punt then grab the football and tightrope the sideline for the score.

"I followed it," said Reed, who also intercepted his fourth pass of the season to give him nine interceptions in 21 NFL games. "After I hit it, I located it in the air and pretty much played it off the bounce and caught it. I just picked it up and whatever happens after that, happens." Ravens coach Brian Billick wasn't nearly as plainspoken in his thoughts on Reed's impact. "Spectacular player," Billick said. "He has a real knack for it."

PASSING GAME LIMITED: Although the Ravens (3-2) did introduce more intermediate routes to the offense and there were no turnovers, the one-dimensional trend continues.

Rookie quarterback Kyle Boller only generated 75 passing yards for a quarterback rating of 61.1. He opened the game strongly by completing 4-of-5 passes for 43 yards, but his opportunities diminished later on.

Balance continues to be difficult to achieve for the top-rated rushing offense and lowest-ranked passing game.

"Sooner or later, it's going to have to pick up," NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis said. "There are some things we need to do outside. We need to catch the ball more and take guys out of the box. We need to make this offense a 50-50 offense."

Running back Chester Taylor was the leading receiver with three catches for 25 yards. Receiver Frank Sanders, the former Cardinal, dropped a touchdown in the end zone in the first half.

"I don't know what happened," Sanders said. "I was bringing it in and I hit the ground and saw it roll out."

INJURY UPDATE: Lewis left the game with a sore shoulder, but X-rays were negative. He returned to the game and combined with Taylor to rush for 176 yards.

"I kind of fell on it and I didn't really know what was wrong with it," Lewis said. "But it was all right. It wasn't anything broken or nothing."

Offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo left the game in the second quarter with a sprained ankle and was replaced by Casey Rabach.

Kicker Matt Stover filled in for kickoff specialist Wade Richey, who was out with a mild groin injury that should be healed by next week's game against the Bengals.

Stover kicked four field goals, had one touchback and punted twice. "I thought Matt did a phenomenal job," Billick said. "He's always up the challenge."

HOMECOMINGS: Former Arizona State stars Todd Heap and Terrell Suggs got a win in their return to Sun Devil Stadium, but little in the way of statistics.

Suggs just missed getting his fifth sack in five games when he narrowly whiffed on a swipe at quarterback Jeff Blake. Heap caught one pass for two yards. "I was gunning for Blake, but I just missed him," Suggs said. "All that matters to me is the win. Even great players don't get a sack every game."

EMPTY STADIUM: The Cardinals reported a paid attendance of 24,193 at Sun Devil Stadium, which has a capacity of over 70,000. "I had to watch my mouth, because everybody could hear," Billick said. "Twenty-five cents per [curse] gets expensive."

QUICK HITS: Linebacker Ray Lewis led Baltimore with 11 tackles and had a bone-jarring hit in the fourth quarter on receiver Nate Poole.. …Besides deactivating Richey, the Ravens kept out offensive tackle Damion Cook, nose guard Aubrayo Franklin, wide receiver Ron Johnson and fullback Ovie Mughelli.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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