But, as they proved again Sunday in the Ravens’ tense, grinding 20-13 AFC semifinal victory over the Houston Texans, they both have some game left.
“They’ve both taken some criticism this season and I’m glad to see them both come out when it really mattered and play so well,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said in the victorious locker room. “In a very real sense this was vindication for them.”
Vindication for Reed came in the form of a nearly game-clinching interception on the Ravens 4-yard line with 1 minute 51 seconds to play after he failed to corral wayward passes that appeared to be there for the taking. Lewis had eight tackles and several turn-back-the-clock moments, most notably when he found himself in the open field with Houston’s superb young running back, Arian Foster, midway through the fourth quarter.
The Texans were down only 17-13 at that stage, at midfield with a first down. Most in a record M&T Stadium crowd of 71,547 were growing nervous as the cold January sun began to fade rapidly. Houston quarterback T.J. Yates found Foster in the left flat with only Lewis standing between him and a long gain.
“Watching him all day long was amazing,” Lewis said later. “He has so many cuts and moves there are times when you almost catch yourself just watching him.”
Lewis didn’t watch this time. He never gave Foster a chance to cut or dart or slash, wrapping him up and bringing him down for a loss of seven yards. Two plays later, facing third and 12, Yates tried to find Kevin Walter deep down the middle and cornerback Lardarius Webb made his second interception of the day.
If there is a difference between Lewis and Reed — besides the fact Lewis is 36 and Reed is 33 — it is that Reed will at least acknowledge he’s getting older. Lewis darts and dodges like Foster when the subject comes up.
Reed is still fiercely proud of who he is and clearly has been stung by some of the criticism he’s heard this season. He talked about those who have been on him for not tackling well and about his few interceptions — three all season, two in the opener — and insisted, even while bringing it up, that he didn’t listen to his critics.
“I had a better tackling game today than the last two or three,” he said. “This is the playoffs. You do whatever you have to do to win. I know people have talked about me not getting as many picks, but some of that has been because they don’t throw it my way that much.”