When Ed Reed intercepted five passes and made 85 total tackles as a rookie for the Baltimore Ravens in 2002, he changed the way NFL teams view safeties in terms of the draft. He was a true playmaker that could not only blanket the field in coverage, but also erase potential mistakes and be a force against the run.
Since then, more safeties like the Colts’ Bob Sanders, the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu and the Redskins’ LaRon Landry have been taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft (or in the cases of Polamalu and Landry, the top 20 of the NFL draft), because teams have come to realize just how much of an impact safeties could have in the right defensive scheme.
In the Ravens’ 27-9 playoff victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Reed once again demonstrated what a dynamic playmaker at the safety position could do for a defense. He intercepted Chad Pennington twice, one of which he returned 64-yards for a touchdown, and helped blanket Miami receivers for four quarters.
It’s only fair to note that Reed’s first interception was a poorly under thrown pass by Pennington, but the touchdown return essentially turned the momentum of the game in the Ravens’ favor. And Reed’s second interception in the second half (in which he jumped an underneath route in the red zone), put a dagger in the Dolphins’ comeback hopes. He changed the momentum of the game with just two plays and he’s a huge reason why Baltimore now has a date with No. 1-seeded Tennessee next weekend in the Divisional Round.
While establishing solid offensive and defensive lines and having a quality quarterback still remain the focal points for teams, enlisting a playmaker at safety should continue to be a top priority for playoff contending teams. Unfortunately getting their hands on one isn’t as easy as picking up toilet paper at the local grocery store, but it seems that the teams that have top safeties are the ones often making the playoffs on a consistent basis.
The Ravens-Titans game next weekend will feature two of the better safeties in the NFL with Reed matching wits with youngster Michael Griffin. Both teams played outstanding defensively this year and with the way the Ravens handled veteran Chad Pennington on Sunday, it’ll be interesting to see how Kerry Collins fares next weekend. What a great defensive battle that game will be.
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Posted in: NFL
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Chad Pennington, Ed Reed, Indianapolis Colts, LaRon Landry, Miami Dolphins, Michael Griffin, NFL Playoff Recaps, NFL Playoffs, NFL Wild Card Recaps, NFL Wild Card Weekend, Pittsburgh Steelers, Ravens at Titans Divisional Playoffs, Ravens beat Dolphins in playoffs, Tennessee Titans, Troy Polamalu, Washington Redskins Bob Sanders