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Baltimore Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed is looking forward to a reunion with Pagano. He wishes it would come a little later in the postseason.
“Chuck’s like a dad to me,” Reed said “He means a lot to me. I would have much rather seen them in the AFC championship game than the first game.”
But Reed will see him next week at Baltimore.
The Ravens had a chance to move up to the AFC’s third seed with a win and a New England loss. But Baltimore lost at Cincinnati as both teams played backups for much of the game.
Pagano coached the Ravens’ secondary for three seasons and was promoted to coordinator last year. Players and coaches in Baltimore have kept in touch, offering encouragement as he fought through the cancer treatments.
“Going back to Baltimore, obviously there’s some familiarity there,” Pagano said. “We had four great years there as a family. It’s a top-notch organization, you know, really good football club. It’s a great challenge and they have a great team and they have great players all over the place.”
The Colts were 2-14 last season and chose quarterback Andrew Luck with the top selection in the draft. Luck and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who stepped in as interim coach with Pagano sidelined, led the turnaround.
Next week, Pagano goes up against former boss John Harbaugh.
“I love his family, and he’s one of my closest personal friends in coaching,” Harbaugh said. “What he’s been through is phenomenal, but we’re all competitors so that gets set aside.”
Houston beat Cincinnati in the opening round of last year’s playoffs.
“I think it will be good,” said Bengals QB Andy Dalton, who grew up in suburban Houston. “We played there last year and know the atmosphere and what it’s going to be like. The experience last year will definitely help us.”
The defending Super Bowl champion Giants are out of contention. When Chicago beat Detroit 26-24, the Giants (9-7) were eliminated, even though they routed Philadelphia 42-7.
“It hurts,” said Eli Manning. “Each year you want to make the playoffs to give yourself an opportunity to win a championship; 9-7 last year was good enough. It wasn’t good enough this year and we knew it wouldn’t be.”
Minnesota’s win eliminated Chicago.
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