Three Ravens headed to Hawaii for Pro Bowl

The AFC North division title is still unclaimed. And it hasn't been determined yet whether the Baltimore Ravens will be rewarded with a third consecutive playoff appearance. However, at least three Ravens are guaranteed one more football game beyond the remainder of the regular season after Thursday's announcement of the NFL's annual Pro Bowl voting.

While perennial All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden was named to the Pro Bowl for the sixth consecutive year and outside linebacker Peter Boulware earning his third selection in five years, tight end Todd Heap made the squad in his first season as a starter.

 The successor to Shannon Sharpe leads the Ravens with 54 receptions and is tied with Travis Taylor with five touchdown catches. He ranks second on the team in receiving yards with 629 yards. The voting is split between the fans, players and coaches.

Rookie safety Ed Reed, who leads the Ravens with five interceptions to go with 70 tackles, 13 pass deflections and two blocked punts, was one of the Ravens' most notable players left off the AFC team along with running back Jamal Lewis, a top candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Reed led the fan voting at his position, but the first-round pick probably was too unknown of a commodity to his NFL brethren to make the team during his first season.

Former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Ray Lewis, the middle linebacker whose season was cut short by a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery, wasn't chosen for the Pro Bowl. That breaks Lewis' five-year string.

Meanwhile, Boulware is well off his career-high pace of 15 sacks from a season ago, when he finished second in the NFL to New York Giants end Michael Strahan. Strahan broke Mark Gastineau's record with 22.5 sacks.

In defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's 3-4 scheme, Boulware has commanded blockers' attention while also fulfilling added pass coverage and run-stopping responsibilities. As a result, Boulware has recorded a career-low five sacks, but ranks fifth on the team in total tackles with 72 to go along with an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Boulware is the Ravens' all-time sacks leader with 57.

In the case of Ogden, one of the largest tackles in league history at 6-foot-8, 340 pounds, he has helped pave the way for Lewis' team-high 1,141 rushing yards. Ogden has also protected two different quarterbacks and rarely allows a sack despite extensive game planning and packages of stunts and blitzes from opposing defensive coordinators.

NOTES: The Ravens announced extended hours at their ticket office to personal-seat license holders for a potential playoff game on Jan. 4 on Jan. 5. That game hinges on the Ravens defeating the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following day and Baltimore defeating Pittsburgh in a road game to close the regular season on Dec. 29.

Tickets haven't gone on sale yet to the general public.


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