Ravens Safety Ed Reed Dares Steelers to Throw Deep

Article excerpt

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens are perpetually upbeat, mostly because of the presence of hard-hitting safety Ed Reed.

"Do these guys look uptight?" Reed asked while pointing to a scattering of pumped-up Ravens laughing it up before their final practice in pads in preparation for their rematch with the Steelers today at Heinz Field.

The Ravens are a reflection of their leaders -- Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis -- two former Miami (Fla.) stars still full of swagger. They carry a lot of weight in a locker room full of experienced, pressure-tested veterans.

Reed has been tested often by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He made the Steelers pay with two interceptions in the Ravens' 35-7 victory on Sept. 11.

"It's been their game plan for a while to challenge me and shake me up," said Reed, whose 1,463 career interception return yards are 20 shy of surpassing former Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson's total. "I don't know the method to their madness. It's all good."

"Detroit used to try to take Michael Jordan out when he went to the hole, but he kept coming back. Pittsburgh knows they are going to get a full game worth of play from me. They know if they don't account for me, it's going to cost them."

Reed's talent, intensity and unadulterated enthusiasm are matched only by Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu. Reed is the antithesis of the even-tempered, soft-spoken Polamalu.

Reed and Polamalu might be worlds apart off the field, but they are similar in the way they play the game -- except Polamalu is a head-hunter and Reed is a ball hawk. Reed's 56 career interceptions are best among active players.

Yet, their styles fit perfectly for the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked defenses in the NFL. The Ravens and Steelers have proven they can win without either, but they are much better with them.

"I don't sit back and compare myself to Troy, but I study guys like Ronnie Lott who paved the way for me," said Reed, a seven-time Pro Bowler. "I have lot of respect for Troy's game. We talked about that at the Pro Bowl. We talked about taking our game to another level. …