By Jeff Zrebiec and Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun
7:02 PM EST, January 16, 2012
By the end of last week, Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb was hearing teammate Ed Reed's voice in his sleep.
If it wasn't Reed critiquing Webb's technique or positioning, it was him giving pointers about dealing with Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, Reed's college teammate at the University of Miami.
"He was on me all week," Webb said. "Sometimes I'm mad and I want to curse him out, want to tell him, 'Get off my back.' But it all pays off during the week."
Indeed, it did. In the Ravens' 20-13 victory over the Texans at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday, Webb tied a team postseason record, held by Reed and cornerback Duane Starks, with two interceptions of rookie quarterback T.J. Yates.
His pick in the first quarter set up Joe Flacco's 10-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin that gave the Ravens a 17-3 lead. His fourth-quarter interception preceded Billy Cundiff's 44-yard field goal, which made it a seven-point game.
"He's an awesome player," Reed said. "I've actually been very hard on him the last few weeks because I know how good he wants to be, and I know what he can accomplish. For him to come out and make the play that he did was awesome."
Afterward, Webb was quick to credit Reed, who had an interception of his own in helping to preserve the Ravens' narrow lead. Webb, a safety in college, idolized Reed growing up, and the two have become extremely close.
"He keeps me focused. That's a guy that I always looked up to when I was in college and man, he was a great guy to look up to. Now, I see it," Webb said. "It's good that he can see greatness out of me. With him on the field, he helps me get a lot of picks, just his presence. With [No.20] on the field, they don't want to throw the ball deep. They see what he's capable of. [Sunday], he could have had three. Yeah, I had two but it was all due to his positioning."
After listening to Reed all week, Webb exacted some playful revenge on his teammate. When Reed dropped two potential interceptions Sunday, Webb approached him and asked if he wanted to borrow his hands.
"I gave him my hands because he dropped two picks and I've never seen it. I said, 'You can have my hands. Then, he went and made the pick and I said, 'Give me my hands back because I'm going to have to get me one,' " Webb said. "Man, I just take my hat off to him. It's a privilege to be his teammate and being a [defensive back] with him. The dude is amazing, man. And he came up and still made the biggest pick of the game. I had two but he still made that big play. I'm so happy for him. He's great. He's taught me so much about this game and life. Every time you bring up Ed Reed, I'm going to tell you how I feel because he's helped me out so much."
Of the few injury concerns for the Ravens, the largest was the status of Reed's left ankle, which the free safety landed awkwardly on while making his fourth and final pass breakup in Sunday's 20-13 victory over the Houston Texans in an AFC divisional playoff game.
Coach John Harbaugh provided a positive update on Reed's ankle during his weekly news conference.
"Ed looks like he's all right with the ankle," Harbaugh said. "Everything's come up OK as far as the X-rays."
Harbaugh said inside linebackers Jameel McClain (sprained left knee) and Brendon Ayanbadejo (right quadriceps) did not suffer a setback.
"They fought through theirs," Harbaugh said. "They were right-to-the-last-minute decisions, and they came out of them OK."
Finally, Harbaugh said there was "nothing serious" about defensive tackle Arthur Jones' leg injury.
Brady offers praise
In the aftermath of Sunday's 20-13 divisional round win over the Houston Texans, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs played nice with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for once, throwing praise Brady's way when reporters asked him about the team's AFC championship game opponent. There were no jokes about Brady's hair, his UGG boots, his supermodel wife or the alleged "Brady rules" that protect the quarterback.
On Monday morning, Brady — who threw six touchdowns in a 45-10 win over the Denver Broncos — followed suit and talked about the respect he has for the Ravens in an interview with Boston sports radio station WEEI.
"There's no one that's going to overlook a team like that. It would be impossible to do," Brady said. "They present a ton of challenges in all three phases of the game. You watch them yesterday, they're physical, they're tough, they can cover. They've got some of the best players in the history of the NFL at their position, in Suggs and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata. You've got phenomenal players there. We've really got our work cut out for us. We'll be excited about the challenge. We'll use the week to prepare like we always do, and really try to be at our best — hopefully be better than we were this past Saturday night."
Johnson likes underdog role
The Ravens are at least a touchdown — or more, according to some oddsmakers — underdog to the New England Patriots in Sunday's AFC championship game.
The fact that the contest will be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., and the Ravens are just 4-4 this season on the road is probably a factor. Also, the Ravens are just 1-6 all time against the Patriots.
All of that is just fine with outside linebacker Jarret Johnson.
"We like being the underdog," he said. "We're used to it. I think we handle it better psychologically. I don't really know why, but I think we do. Should we be? I don't know. Obviously, it's their place, they're the No. 1 seed, they've earned it, they're one of the top offenses in the league, they deserve to be a top team. But I like it."
Where to, Jack and Jackie?
Jack and Jackie Harbaugh would seem to have a dilemma on their hands this Sunday: travel to Foxborough, Mass., to watch eldest son John and the Ravens meet the New England Patriots for the AFC championship at 3 p.m. EST or travel to San Francisco to watch younger son Jim and the 49ers play host to the New York Giants for the NFC crown at 6:30 p.m. EST.
John Harbaugh said he's not sure what their parents plan to do.
"I think it's pretty neat," he said during his weekly news conference Monday. "I'm proud of him, and he's proud of what we're doing, and our parents are pretty fired up. They've got a tough decision. [The 49ers are] at home, so they'll have a place to stay. So they'll probably go out there, I guess."
Asked if the parents might split the games, Harbaugh replied, "Maybe that's what they're going to do. I don't know. We'll have to see."
Baltimore Sun staff writer Matt Vensel contributed to this article.
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