Amid all the playoff hoopla, it might be easy to overlook the year that Ed Reed put together.
But what Reed has done this season is so insanely impressive, I’m considering it worthy of its own post in the middle of wild card week.
There were a lot of doubts about how effective Reed would be this year, given that the veteran safety had strongly considered retirement last offseason and had undergone reconstructive hip surgery in April.
Because of the hip, Reed didn’t participate in any of the Ravens’ offseason workouts. He missed all of training camp, and was placed on the physically unable to perform list to start the season, meaning he had to miss the first six games of the year.
We rarely saw Reed during that time. He didn’t talk much to the media, wasn’t in the locker room very often and, because he wasn’t technically on the Ravens’ roster, he wasn’t allowed to take part in full team practices.
When Reed finally was activated off PUP and returned to the team entering their Week 7 game against the Bills, no one knew what to expect.
This was a guy who had been plagued by a serious neck injury in 2009 and had gone under the knife for major surgery just months earlier. He hadn’t played in a game or been hit in about 10 months.
His first game back, Reed proved none of that was going to slow him down.
On the Ravens’ very first defensive stand that day - Reed’s first time stepping on an NFL field all season - he forced a fumble. He later added two interceptions - one of which he returned 40 yards - and four tackles.
That was just the beginning. Over the course of the season, Reed grabbed eight interceptions, had 183 return yards off the interceptions, and recorded 16 passes defensed.
This was all in 10 games, mind you. Reed played just 62 percent of the regular season, and yet he still led the league in interceptions and interception return yards.
His overall impact on the Ravens defense can best be measured by looking at the team’s turnover ratio. When Reed returned from the PUP list, Baltimore’s turnover margin was a minus-4;10 games later, that total was a plus-7, 11 notches higher than when Reed was activated.
And he might not be done just yet. Reed’s seven career postseason interceptions ties Asante Samuel for the most among active players. Reed has posted that total in seven career playoff games, Samuel has done it in 18.
At 32, Reed’s body is starting to fail him. This year alone, he’s been listed on the injury report with hip, ankle, neck and rib injuries.
Imagine for a second what type of numbers the seven-time Pro Bowler could have posted this year had he been healthy for the whole 16 games. Imagine what type of career he could put together if his body could give him just a couple more healthy seasons.
We don’t know how much longer we’ll get to watch Reed fly around and make plays. But while we can, let’s enjoy it. There might not be another player like No. 20 for quite a while.