Ed Reed finished the regular season with three interceptions, his lowest total for a year in which he has played all 16 games in his 10-year career.
But the Ravens free safety, who recently earned his eighth invite to the Pro Bowl, said questions about the dwindling amount of takeaways should be directed elsewhere, not at him.
“They’re not throwing my way. What do you want me to do?” Reed said after Thursday’s practice. “They’re not throwing my way. I can remember two interceptions that really touched my hands, and I didn’t make the play, but I’m not getting action. So this question is for the other teams and the other quarterbacks.”
Reed hasn’t recorded an interception since Nov. 20 in the team’s 31-24 win against the Cincinnati Bengals. The six-game drought is tied for the third longest in his career and comes on the heels of an eight-game stretch after he made two interceptions in the season-opening 35-7 thumping of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The lack of interceptions has caused some observers to wonder if Reed’s productivity has slipped as he ages, but Reed disputed that notion.
Asked if that strategy by opposing offenses can be interpreted as a sign of respect, Reed replied, “You tell me. Obviously, it’s not because you’re hearing all of that talk, but so long as we win, they don’t have to throw my way if they don’t want to.”
Earlier in the week, Reed told ESPN’s AFC North blog that he has been playing the last few weeks with an injured shoulder that has contributed to him missing a few tackles.
Without discussing specifically those comments, Reed, who has battled a nerve impingement that has affected his neck and shoulder over the previous two seasons, said he won’t use injuries as an excuse.
“Football,” Reed said when asked about his missed tackles. “It’s a physical sport. You’re going to have bumps and bruises, but I have yet to miss a game this year. So be it.”
Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, who will lead the team into Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the Ravens, said the offense would be making a mistake by underestimating Reed.
“Like I said before, he’s arguably one of the best players to ever play the safety position,” Johnson said in comments distributed by the Texans. “You have to know where he’s at on the field at all times because he is definitely a guy that can pick one off and take it the distance and change the momentum of the game. You definitely have to know where he is at all times.”