Palmer Presents Next Test For Reed

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One week after Tom Brady looked solid on his surgically-repaired knee in New England, the Ravens face another quarterback that seems to have regained his elite status in the Cincinnati Bengals' Carson Palmer.

Palmer's 2008 campaign was spotty, as he only played in four games because of a nagging elbow injury.

Fast-forward to 2009, and a rehabilitated Palmer is back to the clutch performer that he was early in his career.

For the past two weeks, Palmer has led the Bengals to fourth-quarter comebacks, overcoming an 11-point deficit against Pittsburgh and a four-point hole in Cleveland.

That is the quarterback the Ravens know.

"He's back to that guy," said Baltimore safety Ed Reed. "He can make all the throws, he's big and he's talented."

The Ravens were stung by two of Palmer's nine fourth-quarter rallies. The most-notable one came in 2004, where he threw three touchdown passes to erase a 20-3 Ravens lead to go up 24-23, then drove for a field goal to eventually seize a 27-26 victory.

"I personally know what he can do, and I've been the victim of one of his fourth-quarter comebacks," said linebacker Terrell Suggs. "And, I'm willing to do everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen again.

"He's definitely one of the greats. He's always been in my top three. I think once he gets opportunities, he exploits defenses. So, I'm just going to make sure he doesn't try to have a good day against us."

So far this year, Palmer has completed 79 of 137 passes for 845 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions.

The Ravens will look to add to that interception total Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Reed will be a major factor in doing so. Throughout his career, he owns five picks of the Bengals, second most against any NFL team (eight vs. Cleveland).

Some pundits have said that Reed is not playing up to his perennial Pro Bowl standards, however. Already this year, the Ravens have been beaten on multiple deep throws, an area Reed typically controls. Reed, who led the NFL with nine interceptions last season, only has one pick, a poorly-thrown jump ball from the Browns' Derek Anderson.

Last year, it wasn't until Week 12 when Reed really started to burn up the stat sheet by posting eight interceptions over the last six contests.

"There are some things I can improve on, but you're always looking to improve," Reed said on Thursday.

The Ravens' secondary – the pass defense is ranked 23rd in the league, allowing 232.3 yards per game – will be helped if the front end can apply pressure on Palmer.

Baltimore currently has 10 sacks, but the defense has been recently questioned by outsiders whether the unit is getting after the quarterback enough with its front four.

The Ravens were able to hit Brady only four times last week in a 27-21 loss, and the team was flagged for two controversial roughing the passer penalties.

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is not going to change his philosophy against the Bengals and Palmer.

"We want to be aggressive and we will be aggressive," Mattison said. "We aren't going to change one bit. Obviously, we don't ever try to do anything that's illegal, and we're going to continue to go after people like we've always done here."

But will the Ravens be able to rattle a confident Palmer? Will Reed have his breakout game?

"We'll see. We'll see," Mattison cryptically answered. "That's the thing that each game shows."

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