The stars usually come out in prime time and there was none larger that Ed Reed.
Nicknamed the “Ball Hawk” he certainly had a nose for the ball last night against the Washington Redskins. His interception in the first quarter led to a five play drive that saw Le’Ron McClain hit the endzone. On the next series, Reed scooped up a Clinton Portis fumble and scampered for a touchdown to put Baltimore up early 14-0. His second interception of the game in the fourth quarter helped seal the victory.
After those early scores both teams settled in for a defensive struggle as each watched the other punt the rest of the half. The Redskins finally hit the scoreboard early in the 4th quarter with a 43-yd Saun Suisham field goal. And then things got interesting.
Baltimore turned the ball over twice as Joe Flacco threw an ill-advised pass into the teeth of the Washington zone that was picked off by LaRon Landry. This led to the field goal. The second turnover was a fumble by Willis McGahee that was promptly turned into six as Jason Campbell hit Antwaan Randle El for the score cutting the lead to 17-10.
But as the momentum took a turn the Ravens decided to do what they do best, run the football and they let Le’Ron McClain lead the way. The big fullback carried the ball ten times during the drive that consumed seven minutes in the final stanza. Then Joe Flacco atoned for his mistake a delivered a 28 yard pass to Derrick Mason to put the game away.
Baltimore was able to win beltway bragging rights for now but their thoughts next week will turn to a bigger rivalry as they face the Pittsburgh Steelers with the fate of the AFC North hanging in the balance. At 9-4 they have a solid grip on the Wild Card with the Colts as the AFC East has three teams deadlocked at 8-5.
Washington has now dropped 4 of 5 and need wins in a hurry before they are officially eliminated from the playoff picture. They have a date with the Bengals next Sunday.
Points to Ponder
-Terrell Suggs was unstoppable at times and the Redskins had no answer for him. His sack moved him to second all-time on the Ravens career list (51 1/2) right behind Peter Boulware (71). I think it’s clear he should be resigned at the end of the season.
-Ed Reed has returned from physical ailments and is back at Pro Bowl form. His impact in the just the first few series gave the Ravens the quick lead they needed as the Redskins defense was tough to solve for most of the night. Sometimes his free wheeling has its risks but when it works its a joy to behold.
-The Offensive line did a fine job against a very good Washington defense. Flacco wasn’t sacked the entire night and dominated the line when they needed it. Even with a stacked line Le’Ron McClain churned out yards at will. They used an unbalanced line most of the night and were creative with trying to run the ball.
-Olympic star Michael Phelps was part of the record crowd of 71,438. The cameras must have panned to him at least five times and he appeared pretty pleased with the outcome as he popped his Ed Reed jersey to the camera.
-Say what you will about John Madden, his rambling nature, the fact that HD isn’t excatly kind to him. but he did a very nice job breaking down what was going on. He astutely pointed out Washington’s change to zone instead of usual press coverage and was the first commentator to explain the unbalanced line.