*BaltimoreRavens.com continues its look back at the success of the 2008 season and asks fans, what do you think was the best Ravens interception last year? *
(nominees are presented in chronological order)
1) Sizzle's First Career Pick-Six – Ravens 27 - Dolphins 13, Week 7
The setup: Baltimore had lost three in a row and was hoping to get back on track against the Dolphins. Both teams needed a win to get back to .500. The Dolphins struck first with a field goal, but Baltimore answered in kind before the first quarter ended.
The payoff:Miami had the ball on Baltimore's 45-yard line when the Ravens defense did what they did best. Dolphins' quarterback Chad Pennington wanted to throw off play action, but safety Jim Leonhard brought pressure from his right, forcing Pennington to throw early. Linebacker Terrell Suggs was there to pick it off, running 44 yards down the sideline for his first NFL touchdown. In a game that proved a turning point for the Ravens in 2008, Suggs' pick-6 proved to be a major spark.
He said:"I always get caught at the 1," Suggs joked. "And it is sad to say I was almost caught at the one again. I was looking at the JumboTron, and I am not Ed Reed so I don't know that feeling. But, looking at the JumboTron it looked like that first ten or fifteen yards took forever. I heard they almost got me. I got in there and I think it changed the outcome of the game."
2) This is a Ngata Drill – Ravens 41 - Texans 13, Week 10
The setup: Riding high on a three-game winning streak, the Ravens traveled to Houston for a game that was rescheduled due to Hurricane Ike. It was their third road game in four weeks, and the Ravens intended to keep that momentum going.
The payoff: Baltimore scored an early touchdown and Houston was attempting to answer. In an otherwise solid drive, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata tipped a pass from Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels right on the goal line, catching the fall as it fell to the ground and leaving the Texans nothing to show for their efforts.
He said: "It was real big," Ngata noted. "I was lucky to be in the right spot at the right time. I was happy to make that play. It killed their momentum. They were driving the ball, and it killed their momentum."
3) Reed Breaks the Record – Again – Ravens 36 - Eagles 7, Week 12
The setup:Down 22-7, Philadelphia was leaning on quarterback Kevin Kolb to provide on spark to the Eagles' offense. The Ravens had already picked off Kolb three times, but with only 7:30 left in the game, they weren't done yet.
The payoff:Kolb led the Eagles down the Ravens' goal line, when safety Haruki Nakamura pointed out to safety Ed Reed that Eagles wide receiver Reggie Brown was on the end of the line instead of the usual tight end, indicating it would not be a run. Reed followed Brown's feet, and when he moved across the field Reed jumped the route and picked the ball off. He ultimately ran 107 yards into the opposite end zone, icing the game and breaking his own record for longest interception return.
He said:"It's a blessing," Reed talked about breaking his own record. "It's a blessing just to come out and read the keys and do your job. Everybody did their job on that play. And it'll just come right to you, like Ray [Lewis] told me."
4) Reed Shoestrings the 'Skins – Ravens 24 - Redskins 10, Week 14
The setup:In a primetime matchup against beltway rival Washington, Ed Reed set the tone of the game early. The Redskins received the ball first, and were only three plays into the game when Reed struck.
The payoff:Quarterback Jason Campbell was dropping back to pass when Terrell Suggs came around from the left side to strike Campbell's arm as he threw. The ball fluttered high in the air and right into Reed's arms. The interception set up a Le'Ron McClain touchdown five plays later.
He said:"I think as a team, as a defense we knew their offense pretty well," Reed said referring to Washington. "It was just a matter of being on the same page and just making plays. Guys made plays [like] that tipped ball. That first pick, that's just somebody else making a play and me doing my job."
5) Reed Breaks on Pennington in the Playoffs – Ravens 27 - Dolphins 9, AFC Wild Card Playoff
The setup:The Ravens returned to Dolphins Stadium for the wild card round of the playoffs, and maintained control of the game for most of the day. Miami driving the length of the field, down 20-3 and needing to score to salvage any hope of a comeback.
The payoff:On the Dolphins' best drive of the game, quarterback Chad Pennington led his team all the way to the Ravens' 15-yard line, and seemed in position to get his team back into the game. But Ed Reed nabbed his second interception of the day at the 8-yard line, driving the metaphorical stake into the Dolphins' season and securing the Ravens first postseason victory in seven years.
He said:"It's special because we've been building a team for a long time around here," Reed said after the first playoff victory of his career. This team is just trying to stay focused. Now it's time to get ready for the next one."