Ravens' Reed leads defensive effort squandered

MIAMI - It was almost a virtual carbon copy of how Ed Reed played football when he attended the University of Miami. <P> The Baltimore Ravens' second-year safety anticipated the Miami Dolphins' offensive approach through his extensive film study.

Reed read quarterback Brian Griese's eyes for a key second-half interception on Sunday at Pro Player Stadium. He deflected two more passes. Just a few miles up I-95 from the Hurricanes' campus in Coral Gables, Reed also had nine crisp tackles. Several of the stops came at the line of scrimmage when Pro Bowl running back Ricky Williams tried to plunge into the secondary. The only glitch in Reed's sterling afternoon was a major one.

In a significant departure from his consensus All-American experience while winning a national title as a Miami senior, Reed's team lost. In a 9-6 overtime loss to the Dolphins, Reed and the Ravens' defense limited Griese to just 13 completions and 118 yards with one interception in 32 attempts. Williams rushed for 105 yards, but needed 36 carries for that total as he was held to 2.9 yards per attempt.

"We felt like we played a good game, but we came up short," Reed said. "We play with our hearts on our sleeve. Of course, we're mad.

"Nobody likes to lose. It's frustrating that we lost. We're the better team, we don't care who we're playing."

Reed's interception in the fourth quarter came when he broke in front of tight end Randy McMichael. However, interim quarterback Anthony Wright gave the football right back to Miami with an interception to Sammy Knight. It was Reed's sixth interception of the season, his 11th in 26 football games.

"I went to Miami and it's been taught to me for as far as I can remember," Reed said. "Do whatever it takes to win the game."

HEAP OF A DAY: Tight end Todd Heap caught eight passes for 64 yards from Wright. Yet, he didn't score a touchdown as Baltimore broke down again inside the Dolphins' 20. Baltimore was limited to 112 passing yards and a long completion of 18 yards to Heap.

The Ravens converted only 5-of-14 third downs while totaling 220 yards as Wright threw two interceptions. NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis fumbled in overtime to set up Olindo Mare's game-winning field goal.

Heap had a false-start penalty in the first half that set Baltimore back after return specialist Lamont Brightful sprinted 73 yards to the Dolphins' 15.

"We shot ourselves in the foot, especially in the red zone," Heap said. "We need to get in a rhythm and get in sync.

"Everyone can do their job and one person can wreck it. I was guilty of that. There's no excuse for that. I jumped."

TURNING POINT?: Offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo recalled how the team dealt with a five-game streak without a touchdown during the Ravens' Super Bowl campaign three years ago.

Kicker Matt Stover scored all the points as a relentless defense harassed opponents.

That scenario is beginning to unfold again as Baltimore hasn't scored a touchdown since All-Pro Jonathan Ogden gathered in a tackle-eligible pass in the second quarter of last week's 33-22 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

"In every season, there's a defining point for how a team becomes a team," Mulitalo said. "I think this is going to be one of those times. Remember in the 2000 season, the defense could have had their own team. We didn't score for five games.

"We stuck together. That's the main focus." Ravens coach Brian Billick said he'll begin working on solutions to the offense's red-zone issues and tendency to commit penalties. Baltimore was flagged 10 times for 88 yards on Sunday.

"We can have ball drills and we can try to strip the ball carriers in practice," Billick said. "We can do all the things coaches do to try and stop the penalties. I can't bench everyone for penalties.

"If it were one guy doing the holding or jumping offsides, I would do it. But multiple guys are committing the infractions. That is not the way for us to proceed."

CELEBRATION: In an annual rite of celebration of their perfect 1972 football season, old Dolphins had a champagne toast after the Kansas City Chiefs' loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Chiefs were the lone remaining undefeated team before falling to the Bengals, an upset win guaranteed by receiver Chad Johnson that has Marvin Lewis' football team tied with Baltimore for the AFC North lead.

"I'm thrilled that our record is still intact, but had the Chiefs gotten the record I would have been the first one to buy them a big bottle of champagne," Hall of Fame middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti said. "I think what this shows is that the magnitude of our undefeated team has never been fully appreciated.

"It's the greatest single team record in the history of sports. It continues to stand as the most difficult team record to tie."

INJURY UPDATE: Ravens defensive end Tony Weaver left the game with a shoulder stinger and didn't return.

INACTIVES: The Ravens ruled out rookie quarterback Kyle Boller (quadriceps), quarterback Ray Lucas, cornerback Raymond Walls, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, offensive tackle Damion Cook, receiver Frank Sanders, wide receiver Dedric Ward and tight end John Jones.

The Dolphins' most prominent inactive was injured quarterback Jay Fiedler, who remains limited by a knee injury.

QUICK HITS: The Dolphins rank second in the league in rushing defense and are the only team in the NFL to not allow a 100-yard individual rusher after holding Jamal Lewis to 88 yards. Lewis' 19-yard run was the longest against the Dolphins this year. .. Perennial All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis, another University of Miami football alum, registered a game-high 12 tackles.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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