Ed Reed Fined, Not Suspended. Why?
A threat of suspension no longer hangs over All-Pro safety Ed Reed.
Reed was fined $55,000 for his illegal hit on Giants receiver Victor Cruz last Sunday, but he will not be suspended, according to FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer and multiple other outlets.
Part of Reed's shoulder glanced off Cruz's facemask, prompting refs to throw a flag for unnecessary roughness for illegal contact to the helmet and neck area of a defenseless receiver. Former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira did not agree with the call because Reed did not lead with his head.
"It's an interesting situation," Reed said Thursday before learning of the fine. "I just play the game. I let them make those decisions."
This is good news for the Ravens defense, who has been dealing with injuries to star players all season. Reed is one of only two players on defense that has started each game this season. His presence alone will have an impact on quarterback Andy Dalton and the Bengals' passing attack.
Reed was suspended last month for repeated hits against defenseless receivers – three hits in three seasons – but it was overturned by an independent arbitrator.
With the NFL attempting to suspend Reed for his third illegal hit, there was some thought that the league would do so again for his fourth. ESPN's Jamison Hensley believes the league laid off this time because they didn't want to be overruled again.
"With this hit, it was very similar to the last one he had against Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanual Sanders. I think it was the league's understanding that if they couldn't suspend him last month, they couldn’t suspend him this month," Hensley said.
Even without the suspension, Hensley believes the fine on a player of Reed's caliber, a future Hall of Famer, is the NFL's way of sending a message to all defensive players.
"I think there is still a message out there for players to say, 'Wait a second, if they're going to try to suspend Ed Reed, we better think [twice] about whether we want to hit these defenseless receivers,'" the AFC North blogger said.
Head Coach John Harbaugh defended Reed Monday, explaining that it's "tough" for defensive players, who are trying to do the right thing, to avoid certain contact at full speed.
"I hope the league really takes a look at this in the offseason and figures out a way to help the players out a little bit. It's been a real challenge so far this year," he said.
Count receiver Torrey Smith as one offensive player who is thankful he doesn't have to worry about the league's crackdown.
"They got my bro again smh #FreeEdReed," Smith tweeted last night. "I'm glad I don't play defense...it [is] hard on those guys."
Pollard Not Bothered By Pro Bowl Snub
Ravens safety Bernard Pollard was named a first alternate to the 2013 Pro Bowl, but he will only make an appearance in Hawaii if another player can't attend because of injury or other reasons.
Being snubbed didn’t bother Pollard, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson, as the seven-year veteran has his mind on loftier goals.
"You know what our destination is: Louisiana, man," Pollard told reporters yesterday in reference to the Super Bowl. "That's where our mindset is. We [are] finishing this regular season off. When it's all said and done, 32 teams are trying to get to the big dance. Now, it narrows down.
"I'm thankful God has put me in this position. We're able to play this game. Some people take it for granted, but we play a game for a living. … When it's all said and done, we're on the stage. We're having a blast. We're playing a game where we get paid a lot of money. I'm good with what I do."
Rice (Offensive POW) and Atkins (Defensive POW) Set To Clash
Ravens running back Ray Rice was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
The top defensive player? Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
Now the two are set to clash in the regular-season finale when the Ravens travel to Cincinnati Sunday.
Rice churned out 158 total yards and one touchdown in Baltimore's win over the New York Giants last week, while Atkins notched six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in the Bengals' win over Pittsburgh.
Who will get the upper hand Sunday?
Well, in the finale of the regular season a year ago, Rice rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns, but in the season opener this year, he only gained 68 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Rice knows Atkins and the Bengals defense will have him in their crosshairs.
"They are going to go in saying, 'We got the Ravens again. We can't let them come in here running all wild like they did last year,'" Rice told reporters Thursday.
'Strange' To See Ravens Close To Points Record
The Ravens need 11 points in Cincinnati Sunday in order to set a team record for the most points scored in a season.
"The strange twist is that Baltimore can set a new scoring mark just three games after firing its offensive coordinator," wrote Hensley. "[W]hen you look at Cam Cameron's time as offensive coordinator, the Ravens did score points. Of the five highest scoring seasons in franchise history, four have come with Cameron calling the plays (and quarterback Joe Flacco running them)."
Baltimore is averaging 25.4 points (10th best in league) on offense and the Bengals are allowing 20.2 points per game. If those averages keep up, the Ravens will set the new record and even break the 400-point barrier.
Week 17 Picks: Ravens vs. Bengals
Neither Baltimore nor Cincinnati have much to gain from this Sunday's meeting, but most national analysts believe the younger Bengals team will want a win more to prove they can finally beat the Ravens and gain confidence heading into the playoffs. Plus, the Ravens have greater cause to rest a banged-up team.
Of the 28 picks below, only eight believe the Ravens will come away with a win. Five of those eight believers are local media.
We'll see if the local or national media know the Ravens better.
The Baltimore Sun: 5 of 7 pick Ravens
Jeff Zrebiec (Ravens 20, Bengals 17): "Both John Harbaugh and Marvin Lewis seem intent on going all out to win this game but the Ravens actually have something tangible to gain with the potential of getting the third seed. At least on paper, that gives them a slight edge."
ESPN.com: 11 of 12 pick Bengals
Yahoo! Sports: 2 of 3 pick Bengals
SportingNews.com (Iyer): Bengals 19, Ravens 16
"The Ravens no longer need this game to win the AFC North, but this test against the red-hot Bengals defense will be a good tune-up for their new-look offense. The Bengals have also nailed down a playoff spot, and their goal will be a clean, disciplined effort. It's important for the young home team to build more confidence by following up its big victory against Pittsburgh with inspired play against Baltimore."
FoxSports.com (Peter Schrager): Bengals 30, Ravens 20
"With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green in Cincinnati, the Bengals have made the playoffs twice, but they still haven't beaten the Ravens. I have a feeling Baltimore might be resting some troops, while Cincinnati goes full speed. Take Cincinnati, cue the 'Everything's still wrong with the Ravens' storyline Sunday night, and ignore it all come next week."
CBSSports.com (Pete Prisco): Bengals 23, Ravens 17
"This game means nothing for the Bengals because they are locked into the sixth seed. It could mean something for the Ravens, who could move up to the third seed. Even so, I expect the Bengals to play to win. They want to roll into the playoffs feeling good. Cincinnati will get after Joe Flacco with the pass rush. Bengals take it."
SI.com (Peter King): Bengals 24, Ravens 16
"Jeopardy answer: NFC, Seattle. AFC, Cincinnati. Jeopardy question: 'What are the two most dangerous wild cards in the NFL this season, Alex?'"
ProFootballTalk.com (Mike Florio): Bengals 27, Ravens 20
"This meaningless game has plenty of meaning for the Bengals, who need to convince themselves that they can beat the Ravens, in order to obtain the confidence that they can do something else they haven't done in an even longer time — win in the playoffs."
ProFootballTalk.com (Michael David Smith): Ravens 21, Bengals 14
"At first glance this might look like a big game, matching up two playoff teams. But with the Bengals locked into the No. 6 seed and the Ravens highly likely to end up with the No. 4 seed, neither of these teams has a lot to play for. I think the Ravens, however, will be a little more motivated to build on the momentum from last week's win over the Giants and will take this one."
- Be prepared to be inspired. The Ravens honor a brilliant artist with muscular dystrophy. [WBAL TV]
- The AFC North all-division team includes eight Ravens, seven Bengals, six Steelers and five Browns. [ESPN]
- @torreysmithwr: Forgot to congratulate my bros @RayRice27, @TwentyER, @vleach44, Marshall Yanda, Haloti Ngata and Jacoby Jones on their Pro Bowl [selections]. [Twitter]
- The Ravens know that ball is going to A.J. Green, who was deemed the best wide receiver in football by Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Ravens receiver Deonte Thompson stuck up for his ex-teammate Tim Tebow. [CBSSports.com]
- Play at least a half of Sunday's game before deciding to rest starters. [CSNBaltimore.com]