BALTIMORE Leon Lett sit down, Ed Reed has taken your place.
The only thing that will be remembered from the Baltimore Ravens’ 38-27 win over the lowly Cincinnati Bengals yesterday is a bonehead play by Reed which probably will live forever on the blooper reels at NFL Films.
On third-and-6 from the Bengals 37 and the game tied at 7-7 in the first quarter, quarterback Jon Kitna overthrew wide receiver Peter Warrick on a deep slant pass. The ball hit Reed in the chest and the Ravens’ rookie strong safety wound his way through traffic before cutting right and hitting daylight at the Bengals 20. When Reed reached the 12, he held the ball aloft with his right arm in a premature touchdown celebration. Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh came up behind Reed on his right side and stripped the ball. The ball bounced into the end zone where Warrick recovered Reed’s fumble for a touchback. The Bengals got the ball back at the 20.
The play was reminiscent of Leon Lett’s 64-yard return and fumble at the Buffalo Bills’ 1-yard line in Super Bowl XXVII. In that game, Lett was stripped from behind by Bills wide receiver Don Beebe and the Bills recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
“That’s not the same thing, you can’t compare me to Leon Lett,” Reed said.
Oh, yes you can. The only difference in the two plays, was that Reed started his routine 10 yards away from the end zone and Lett was victimized at the 1 as he held the ball down by his side before crossing the goal line. Of course Lett’s transgression did occur on football’s biggest stage, the Super Bowl.
Luckily for Reed, his mental breakdown didn’t cost the Ravens.
“Let it play, I’m glad I got that highlight then, if they are going to keep playing it and putting it on TV like that, but I’ve got a whole lot of football left to play,” Reed said.
In shocking admission, Reed said this wasn’t the first time he has fumbled after an interception. During his sophomore season at Miami, Reed said he intercepted a Boston College pass and then fumbled when he was tackled from behind. Reed didn’t elaborate on whether he was showboating.
Reed added another interception in the fourth quarter, but was much safer with the ball. Reed’s two interceptions totaled 67 yards. He leads the Ravens with four interceptions.
“You live and learn, I’m sure that will never happen again with him,” Ravens quarterback Jeff Blake said.
Ravens coach Brian Billick refused to answer any post-game questions, thus avoiding inquiries into Reed’s actions.
A new rushing leader
An uneventful 3-yard run off left tackle in the third quarter made Jamal Lewis the Ravens’ all-time leading rusher. Lewis, in just his 25th game, passed Priest Holmes (2,102 yards) as the franchise’s top ground gainer.
Lewis, who sat out all of last season with a torn left ACL, gained 135 yards on 21 carries. The 5-foot-11, 235-pounder has 2,145 yards and 11 touchdowns on 489 carries.
“I heard something about a record [over the public address], but it’s cool,” Lewis said. “It’s cool. We’ve just got to keep running and keep it going.”
Wholesale return yards
A kickoff return for a touchdown. A punt return for a touchdown. An interception returned for a touchdown. The teams combined for 551 total return yards the most in a Ravens game since Dec. 24, 2000 when Baltimore and the Jets combined for 650 yards.
Bengals kick return man Brandon Bennett returned a first-quarter kickoff 94 yards for a score. Ravens returner Lamont Brightful, who handled punt return duties for injured Chris McAlister, took a punt back 95 yards in the second quarter.
Three Ravens interceptions, including defensive end Adalius Thomas’ 25-yard touchdown return, accounted for 92 yards. Brightful returned three kickoffs for 98 yards, and three punts for 103 yards. Bennett returned six kickoffs for 228 yards.