Reed Lying in Wait?

Ed Reed hasn't hurt the Steelers much in the past, but don't tell the Steelers that.

PITTSBURGH – The Baltimore Ravens' press release for Saturday's AFC Division Playoff Game includes a section called "Standouts Vs. Steelers."

Listed are the following:

* Todd Heap for his 54 catches for 602 yards vs. the Steelers, including a career-high 146 receiving yards in a 2002 game.

* T.J. Houshmandzadeh for his 78 receptions vs. the Steelers, a personal best against any team.

* Derrick Mason for his 100 receptions and 64 first downs vs. the Steelers, another personal high against any team.

* Ray Lewis for his 305 career tackles vs. the Steelers, a personal high against any team.

* Terrell Suggs for his 10½ sacks vs. the Steelers, his second most against any team.

Nowhere on the list is the name Ed Reed, the free safety who was named to his seventh Pro Bowl after leading the league with 8 interceptions and 183 return yards despite missing six games with an injury.

Reed, in only 128 games, has 54 career interceptions to rank second to Darren Sharper (63 in 205 games) among active NFL players. Reed also has 7 career postseason interceptions to tie Asante Samuel for first among active players.

But of Reed's 61 total career interceptions, only one came on a pass thrown by Ben Roethlisberger, and that was four years ago.

In nine games against Roethlisberger, Reed has 1 interception and only 2 other pass breakups.

Roethlisberger cringed when asked about it after the last game. He said only that "I know where he's at. People might say he's a non-factor, but that's probably because I didn't give him a chance to be one. There were a couple times I was going to chuck one deep, but I saw him and decided not to, or went away from him. So, he's a factor without being a factor."

Here was Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' explanation this week:

"Probably because I beat it into his head that when the ball comes out of your hand you'd better know where Ed Reed is. And that's 10 years of going against this guy and the respect that we have for him. Our goal is to shut Ed Reed out, because when he gets his hands on it it's a touchdown normally."

Reed has 13 career touchdowns. And he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for December because of his ability to appear out of nowhere for an interception. TV analysts referred to him as a "ghost" last week in Kansas City. But Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace disagrees.

"I see him everywhere," Wallace said. "I see him the whole time. That's one guy who you wouldn't want to call a ghost. It may seem like he appears out of nowhere, but that's the guy you have to know where he's at at all times."

Reed is one of the reasons the Ravens' secondary has drawn raves for its play down the stretch.

"There's no doubt the last month, month and a half, they're playing really solid," said Arians.

Since the Ravens lost to the Steelers on Dec. 5, their pass defense has improved significantly. In their first 11 games, the Ravens allowed a passer rating of 82.1. In their last five games, they've allowed a passer rating of 65.0.

Arians pointed to the improved health of cornerback Lardarius Webb. Wallace said it's more about Reed.

"Actually when Ed Reed first came back their numbers kind of got worse," Wallace said of Reed's return from a 6-game stint on the PUP list. "But then he got back comfortable, the numbers went back up. He's back in the flow of things."

Of course, Reed is still hurting from the loss of his brother, who has been missing since he jumped into the Mississippi River last week while trying to elude police.

"He's dealing with a lot, obviously, more than you'd wish on anybody," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. "He's just been a real pro. He's been here at work every day. He's been leading. He's been teaching, like he always does. And he's getting himself ready to play. But he's carrying that with him, certainly."


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