- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2009

MIAMI | Among the future Hall of Famers who have starred on the Baltimore Ravens‘ defense, Ed Reed showed Sunday why he belongs on a different level.

Reed intercepted two passes - returning one 64 yards for a touchdown - in the Ravens’ 27-9 victory against the Miami Dolphins in an AFC wild-card game at Dolphin Stadium. He led a strong defensive performance that resulted in five Miami turnovers, just another chapter in a brilliant season for the safety. He led the league with nine regular-season interceptions and 264 interception return yards.

“Ed’s the best player in the world,” Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington said.

In his last seven games, Reed has 10 interceptions. Counting Sunday, the Ravens are 6-0 this season when he picks off a pass.

“As long as I’ve been in the NFL, I’ve never seen nothing like [Reed],” Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce said. “But when you play on this team, you expect it after a while.”

Reed has picked off 43 passes in seven seasons, tied for third among active players. The former University of Miami safety has scored 11 touchdowns via interceptions, fumble returns, blocked punts and punt returns. His pair of picks Sunday gave him five in postseason play heading into Saturday’s divisional game at AFC top seed Tennessee.

“The kid’s a freak and the greatest safety alive,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said.

Reed played like a center fielder on the first interception Sunday, drifting back to corral Chad Pennington’s bomb intended for speedy receiver Ted Ginn Jr., who slipped while being covered by cornerback Samari Rolle. Reed caught the ball at the Baltimore 41 near the Miami sideline; his momentum carried him back to the 36, where he began his cross-field gallop. He avoided a diving tackle attempt by Patrick Cobbs and cut back before racing untouched to the end zone.

He has touchdown returns of 106 and 107 yards in his career. As for how far he ran on Sunday’s return, Reed only could laugh.

“Oh man, counting the zigzag? It felt like a 200 from track,” he said. “It took a while to catch my breath.”

Added Pennington, “Not too many safeties make that play.”

But it wasn’t the first time Reed made that play.

“As a little kid, that’s how I got this scar - running into a mailbox catching one over my head like that,” Reed said, pointing to his forehead.

Reed said he read Pennington’s eyes on the second interception. Unfortunately for the quarterback, that vision wasn’t mutual.

“He’s up 20-3, and he totally leaves his spot and shows up in a place you would never imagine him being in,” Pennington said. “And that’s why he’s special.”

Strong safety Jim Leonhard, who’s in his first season playing next to Reed, said there’s more to the All-Pro than athletic ability.

“Ed prepares like nobody else I’ve been around,” Leonhard said. “That’s one thing he doesn’t get credit for, how smart he is.”

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