BALTIMORE -- In one moment of delicious athleticism, the kind that stood out even on a field full of exemplary athletes, Ed Reed made a play that thrust him into the forefront of the MVP race.
|Ed Reed is running away with another outstanding campaign in '08. (Getty Images)|
The reason he isn't seen that way by many is because we've gotten used to witnessing the Baltimore safety act in superhuman ways. We've taken it for granted, the way we do peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or the warm comfort of gravity.
When Washington running back Clinton Portis was hit by Reed in the Ravens' 24-10 win, it set off a chain reaction, one initiated by Reed, furthered by Reed and finished by Reed.
Reed not only made the tackle on Portis, he stripped the football away from him. Portis seemed stunned by the hit and takeaway but he shouldn't have been since Reed is one of the most enzymic players in the sport.
Reed grabbed the football and ran 22 yards for the touchdown. It changed the complexion of the game as the Ravens took a 14-0 lead.
The play demonstrated something that many inside football haven't forgotten, but most outside of the sport sometimes do: Reed is an indestructible, pernicious and dangerous force.
"I would say so," said Baltimore coach John Harbaugh, when asked if Reed should be an MVP candidate. "I don't see how you cannot put him in there. He scores on defense. He makes plays every single week. If he's not an MVP candidate, I don't know who is.
That play was Reed's third defensive touchdown this year. Let's repeat that: his third defensive score of the season. That puts Reed at seven total defensive touchdowns for his career, the most in team history. It takes the Detroit Lions offense five years to score that much.
Earlier in the season, against Philadelphia, Reed set an NFL record with a 108-yard interception return. Whose record did he break doing it? His own, which was 106 yards in 2004.
Until the second half of the Washington game the Ravens hadn't given up a touchdown in 13 straight quarters and 46 consecutive possessions. Reed may have been the biggest reason why.
We haven't seen this kind of complete safety play since Ronnie Lott. I witnessed a chunk of Lott's career. Reed is already better than Lott.
It's true. He is.