By Aaron Wilson, The Baltimore Sun
1:27 AM EST, February 4, 2013
NEW ORLEANS —
Ravens veteran free safety Ed Reed has never embraced a conventional approach.
So the Louisiana native wasn't keen on the idea of retiring after a Super Bowl victory in front of his family and friends.
Following the Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Reed declared in the locker room emphatically that he has more football left in him.
"This is not it," Reed shouted. "This is not it. I'm not done."
Reed, 34, has battled multiple health issues, including a torn shoulder labrum and a nerve impingement.
Brandishing a huge unlit cigar in his mouth, the St. Rose, La., native said he's more than likely to keep playing the game as long as his body cooperates.
"It's all about right now," Reed said. "I'll reassess things the way I always do and we'll tune in and get back to you all. It's all about the moment. I'm not even thinking about this. I love this game. If I'm able to do it, I'll be doing it."
Reed intercepted 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the first half.
"He overthrew it," Reed said. "Corey Graham did a great job on the backside by discouraging and making him throw it behind Randy. He threw it too high. I'm just happy to catch it, man."
For Reed, this marks a perfect ending to the season.
The Destrehan High product takes an immense amount of pride in being from the New Orleans area.
"To do it for the hometown, in the hometown, to do it for Baltimore — there can't be a better feeling than that," Reed said. "I'm blessed and grateful. I'm just so grateful."
Reed said he's not done having fun. He has plans to celebrate here in New Orleans.
"This season, man I'm ready to kick my feet up, but I can't," Reed said. "I'm ready for [New Orleans brass band] Rebirth. Ready to second-line all the way up Poydras [Street], man. We about to walk all the way back to the hotel like we do it in New Orleans."
Reed's younger brother, Brian Reed, died two years ago after jumping into the Mississippi River. Brian Reed had battled mental illness.
"It's bittersweet because we have been through a lot," Reed said. "Been through a lot as men. Been through a lot as a team."
Success for Kruger, Ellerbe
Relentlessly chasing down elusive San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the Super Bowl, Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger displayed the pass-rushing form expected to make him a prized free agent.
Kruger's combination of athleticism and aggressiveness allowed him to deck Kaepernick in the first quarter of the Ravens' 34-31 win Sunday night for a loss of 10 yards at the Ravens' 18-yard line to hold the 49ers to a field goal.
It was the first of two sacks for Kruger in the first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
With his rookie contract expiring after the game, Kruger is a pending unrestricted free agent who might be too expensive for the Ravens to retain.
With a career-high nine sacks during the regular season and an additional 4.5 sacks in the postseason, the 2009 second-round draft pick has built a niche as a situational pass rusher. Kruger could command a multiyear contract in the range of $35 million to $40 million.
"The Ravens know I want to come back," Kruger told The Baltimore Sun. "My focus is on the Super Bowl, and the chips will fall where they may.
"I don't know what else I can do. I just have to let it happen and let my agent do his job. I would love to be here, but it's not up to me."
Kruger said he won't allow himself to get stressed out by his unresolved status heading into the offseason.
"I've never been through the process before," Kruger said. "I don't know what to expect. I'm sure I will pull my hair out a little bit at first, but this is a good problem to have."
Kruger recently fired his previous representation and hired California-based agent David Dunn. Dunn has represented several other Ravens players, including former tight end Todd Heap.
"I think he's a really good agent; he's been great so far," Kruger said. "I'm very upbeat about everything. He's accustomed to dealing with the Ravens, so that's good."
Another pending Ravens free agent had a strong showing in the Super Bowl. Starting inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe had four solo tackles, including one for a loss, in the first half.
Ellerbe would prefer to remain in Baltimore, and that's a possibility with Ray Lewis' retirement.
"It's a business, but I would love to be here," Ellerbe said. "Baltimore is where I got my start, but it's not up to me. It's out of my control. The Ravens know how I feel. I hope we can work something out."
Fake field goal fails
The Ravens' decision to attempt a fake field goal in the first half backfired in a major way.
A direct snap from Morgan Cox to rookie kicker Justin Tucker failed to generate a first down as Tucker was tackled shy of the marker.
Instead of picking up three points on a chip-shot field goal, the Ravens saw their aggressiveness work against them.
Before the sequence, the Ravens had been sharp in the red zone.
In the playoffs, the Ravens had scored touchdowns on 10 consecutive red-zone scoring opportunities before the trick play.
Flacco on fire
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had a stellar first half, displaying a precise passing touch.
He threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions, giving him 11 scoring passes in the postseason to tie with Joe Montana and Kurt Warner for the most in the playoffs in one season.
Accurate and calm, the low-key New Jersey native connected on 13 of 20 passes for 192 yards for a 135.8 quarterback rating.
He delivered touchdown passes to tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones.
The 56-yard score by Jones, in which he beat cornerback Chris Culliver — who launched a controversy last week with anti-gay remarks on comedian Artie Lange's radio program — was the longest play the 49ers' defense has allowed this season.
It got chippy in the second quarter with a series of fights breaking out and offsetting personal fouls given to cornerback Corey Graham and 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley.
Ravens cornerback Cary Williams lost his temper, going after 49ers fullback Bruce Miller. Williams shoved an official, who was trying to restrain him, away in an effort to get more shots in on Miller.
Williams was fortunate to not be ejected.
E. Reed ties playoff record
In his home state of Louisiana, with family and friends cheering on every move, Ravens veteran free safety Ed Reed was eager to put on a show.
After leaving the game to go to the locker room for examination of an undisclosed injury, Reed made his presence felt in the second quarter when he intercepted an overthrown pass by Kaepernick.
The interception was the ninth of Reed's playoff career, tying the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the most in NFL history with Ronnie Lott, Bill Simpson and Charlie Waters.
Lewis Ray Lewisshowed his age in the first half.
The 37-year-old struggled to keep up with former Maryland tight end Vernon Davis as he made four receptions for 72 yards by halftime.
At his advanced age for a football player, pass coverage is no longer Lewis' forte. Lewis had surrendered 30 completions in 40 attempts in his direction for 373 yards, no touchdowns and a 103.4 quarterback rating before the Super Bowl, according to Pro Football Focus. Lewis allowed an average of 12.4 yards per reception during the regular season and the first three playoff games.
Every regular starter was active Sunday night for the Ravens. That included Ellerbe (toe, back, sprained right ankle) and Pitta (inner thigh).
The Ravens scratched rookie cornerback Asa Jackson, safety Omar Brown, cornerback Chris Johnson, outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton, offensive guard Ramon Harewood, wide receiver Deonte Thompson and defensive tackle Bryan Hall.
The Ravens had full participation in practice all week, and everyone was listed as probable on the final injury report.
49ers starting linebackers Aldon Smith (shoulder) and linebacker Ahmad Brooks (shoulder) were both active.
Ogden in the house
Former Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, had a role with the team before the Super Bowl.
He was an honorary game captain for the AFC champions and at the 50-yard line for the coin toss.
"I think the Ravens are a team of destiny," Ogden told The Baltimore Sun. "We have an excellent shot to win this thing."
The forced fumble by rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who knocked the football out of running back LaMichael James' hands, marked the ninth turnover the Ravens have forced this postseason, with Reed's interception boosting the total to 10.
The fumble was recovered by defensive end Arthur Jones.
The Ravens have forced an NFL-high 38 turnovers in the playoffs since 2008.
The 49ers deactivated quarterback Scott Tolzien, safety Trenton Robinson, running back Jewel Hampton, defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie, offensive lineman Joe Looney, linebacker Cam Johnson and defensive tackle Ian Williams. ... Former Ravens running back Ricky Williams was on the field with the team before the game. ... Vince Papale, the former Philadelphia Eagles special teams contributor who was portrayed in the movie "Invincible," was hanging out at the Ravens' team hotel all week. Papale said he likes the Ravens' hard-hitting style. "These are real tough guys," said Papale, a friend of former Baltimore Colts safety Bruce Laird's.... A chorus from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., which was struck by a tragedy in a mass shooting in December, joined Jennifer Hudson on the field to perform an emotional rendition of "America the Beautiful" before kickoff. The chorus is made up of third- and fourth-graders whose music teacher has taught at Sandy Hook for a decade. They released the following statement: "Our wish is to demonstrate to America and the world that 'we are Sandy Hook and we choose love.'" ... Belting out a popular series of her signature songs, Beyonce performed to heavy applause during the halftime show. She brought down the house with "Crazy in Love."
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