Early birthday present for Reed: Setting NFL interception return yards record

Hours before turning 34 years old, Ed Reed sure didn’t play like an aging safety.

Not all of the Ravens’ 44 points were posted by the offense, as Reed scored six of them with a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown, in the process becoming the NFL’s all-time leader with 1,497 career interception return yards.

“It felt good,” Reed said. “That’s really hands down to the D-linemen, who got some pressure on (Andy) Dalton there, who’s a very good quarterback, going to be good in this league. But when pressure’s in your face, I kind of know the call, know how aggressive we are. It gives you a chance to make plays. I got my hands on one before that, actually two, and it’s like you’re talking to yourself. It’s like, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming. Just be patient.’ That’s what we kept telling each other as a secondary. It feels good.”

Reed had no doubt when he caught it that he’d score.

“Yeah, I wasn’t going to let the O-linemen catch me,” he said, laughing. “That’s why I just dove. It strained my hamstring trying to dive. You know, I’m 34 in two hours. Father Time does catch up to you.”

As for that hamstring, Reed didn’t seem bothered by it or concerned that he’d miss time. He did leave for the locker room briefly, but returned to the sidelines for the final minutes.

“It’s good, it’s good. It’s minor,” Reed said. “I could have played, will play this week. I’ve been in this situation before. It’s just about managing and knowing it.”

Reed wasn’t the only member of the defense with “Father Time” catching up who provided a strong performance.

Linebacker Ray Lewis, 37, recorded a game-high 14 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Lewis said he wasn’t surprised to see Reed pass former teammate Rod Woodson’s interception return yards mark.

“Because I’m close friends with both of those guys, I’ve witnessed it on both sides,” he said. “To see Rod Woodson pick them off and run, and now I’m running behind Ed when he picks him off, I just think it’s poetry. It’s poetry to see those guys do what they do.”

Coach John Harbaugh stated the obvious, that he envisions Reed as a “first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

Others who stood out on defense: Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata added two sacks while cornerback Lardarius Webb had seven tackles.