Flashback: Ed Reed's Big Day Lifts Ravens Over 'Skins

The Ravens and Redskins don't play each other often in the regular season, but when they do, the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area takes notice. Since the franchise's inception in 1996, the two neighboring teams have only faced off four times, with Baltimore winning three of those contests. The NFL's 2002 division realignment guaranteed that they would meet once every four years. Albeit a brief history, the fans of both teams don't take it lightly.

In 2008, which was also Head Coach John Harbaugh's first season at the helm in Baltimore, they met at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday Night Football. As is custom for a game in December, it was a cold, windy night at just 29 degrees. Defense would reign supreme in this one.

Armed with their new rookie quarterback and head coach, the Ravens carried an 8-4 record into the game. A strong ground game and defense led the way for Baltimore, as they would finish with the league's second-ranked defense. With each game, Joe Flacco showed more and more poise at quarterback and the team showed they could make a playoff run.

The Redskins made the trek up from Washington with a 7-5 record, hoping to make a run at their second consecutive playoff appearance. Quarterback Jason Campbell was once again leading the offense, but the team was built around running back Clinton Portis, who would finish the season with 1,487 rushing yards, good for fourth in the league. The heart and soul of Washington's defense was veteran linebacker London Fletcher, who quarterbacked the unit.

The blustery night in Baltimore was owned by Ed Reed. The NFL's all-time leader in interception return yards tormented the Redskins offense from start to finish. Baltimore started by running the ball, and carried that all the way down to the wire, sealing a 24-10 win for the home team.

Stat of the game
Eleven straight runs on the Ravens' final scoring possession late in the fourth quarter. Baltimore got the ball on their own 17-yard line and successfully ran the ball repeatedly, overpowering Washington's defensive front. Flacco then hit wide receiver Derrick Mason on a play-action fake for a touchdown.

Player of the game
Ravens safety Ed Reed. Baltimore's ballhawk was all over the field again. Reed posted three tackles, two interceptions, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble returned for a touchdown.

Play of the game
Portis took a handoff at his own 11-yard line and rushed to the 22, where he was met by numerous Ravens, including Reed. Reed managed to strip the ball loose from his former college teammate, picked it up and raced 22 yards for the touchdown, eluding several Redskins along the way.

Quote of the week
Harbaugh on if he noticed the rivalry between the two cities, Baltimore and Washington D.C.: "I have. A lot of people have brought that up. You get a feel for it, and it's obvious. [They're] just right up the road, so it's going to be that backyard kind of a rivalry. And it's going to be fun to be a part of it. I think our guys and our coaching staff are excited to be representing Baltimore, and we're looking forward to doing that."

What it meant
The win put the Ravens in prime position to return to the postseason. They would win two of their next three, getting to 11 wins and making the playoffs as a wild card in the AFC playoffs. Heading on the road, Baltimore went down to Miami, home of the AFC East champs, and knocked off the Dolphins. They then went on the road to visit the AFC's No. 1 seed, the Titans, and knocked them off with a Matt Stover game-winning field goal. The Ravens' season would eventually end at their division rival's backyard in the AFC championship game. The Pittsburgh Steelers knocked off the Ravens and advanced to the Super Bowl, 23-14.

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