For Ed Reed, the Ravens' triumph over the New England Patriots sends him back to a place he cherishes: Louisiana.

The star free safety grew up in St. Rose, La., just outside New Orleans.


And now Reed is making his return with the AFC champions after they punched their ticket to the Super Bowl.

"It's just awesome right now," Reed said. "A great feeling. It's amazing to be going back to New Orleans. I'm so grateful. To go to the Crescent City, here we come, baby."

For Reed, whose family still lives in Louisiana, this marks a huge moment.

The 34-year-old former NFL Defensive Player of the Year couldn't have written a better ending to his career should he decide to retire after playing the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

"I really don't have any words for it; I rushed into the locker room to call my mom because I know that my family has been going through some things," Reed said. "So I'm just thankful to be going home to New Orleans for the whole of New Orleans to see some hometown guys. [Pro Bowl kick returner] Jacoby Jones [a fellow New Orleans native] we talked about it. We're just grateful.

"I don't think we've been there since right before [Hurricane] Katrina [in 2005]. It's just a blessing. I thank God for assembling this team and for his grace. It's been a long time coming, but it takes time. We've built up to this point. We're just thankful."

As inspired as the Ravens have been by retiring inside linebacker Ray Lewis, this marks the first Super Bowl berth for most of the players.

"I have no words, man," Reed said. "I'm just grateful for our coaches. For everything we've been through since coach [John] Harbaugh got here, he had a vision of working us a certain way and taking us through something and to create this moment. We believed it, but it was just something we had to go through as men and understand each other and understand the process together.  Our coaching staff is amazing for what they do. That process that we went through as a team, that growth."


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