REED ALL ABOUT IT Battered and Bruised, Veteran Safety Comes through in the Clutch

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Byline: Jason Butt, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

BALTIMORE -- Ed Reed walked to the postgame podium with his left ankle wrapped in tape.

The veteran Baltimore Ravens safety had just injured it while attempting to deflect a fourth-down Hail Mary attempt from Houston quarterback T.J. Yates with about 20 seconds left to play. When Reed landed, he rolled his ankle, fell to the ground and grimaced.

After a few minutes, Reed was able to walk again. As he stepped up to the lectern, limping a bit, he was asked if the pain was eased by Baltimore scratching its way to a 20-13 win over Houston in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

No, not at all, man, Reed said with a laugh.

Reed has been criticized in recent weeks for missing tackles in Baltimore's past four outings.

But against the Texans, Reed arguably put in his best performance of the season, recording a key interception and sacrificing his already-injured body for six tackles.

Reed, who adds an injured ankle to a nerve impingement in his shoulder, said he expects to be fine for next week's AFC championship at New England.

I'll be all right, Reed said. I'll get treatment, and I'll be ready to go. I rolled my ankle, pinched it real bad or what-not. I was able to walk off at the end.

In vintage fashion, the Ravens' defense, led by Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis (seven tackles), earned the win as Houston stifled Baltimore's offense throughout the game. The Texans outgained the Ravens 315-227. But Baltimore was the beneficiary of four Houston turnovers, including Reed's interception and two picks from cornerback Lardarius Webb.

With Houston near midfield at the 7:28 mark of the fourth quarter, Yates threw a pass down the seam intended for receiver Kevin Walter. Webb read the route and intercepted the pass.

I was inside, and he threw the ball inside, Webb said. I just caught the ball.

The Ravens were able to convert Webb's interception into a 44-yard Billy Cundiff field goalto go up 20-13.

After Yates hit wideout Andre Johnson for gains of 18 and 16 yards on Houston's following possession, he tossed a deep pass that Reed picked off at the Baltimore 4. The interception was the eighth of Reed's career in the playoffs, which set an NFL postseason record.

Ed's got great ball skills, cornerback Cary Williams said. He's showed that for many years. That's why he's a prolific Pro Bowl player.

Though Baltimore's defense was able to capitalize on Houston's mistakes (17 points off four turnovers), it still allowed Texans running back Arian Foster to run for 132 yards and a touchdown. …