View Full Version : Head to head: Steelers S Troy Polamalu and Ravens S Ed Reed

12-05-2010, 08:40 AM
Head to head: Steelers S Troy Polamalu and Ravens S Ed Reed
Sunday, December 05, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Byron Leftwich is the only player in the Steelers locker room who has tried to complete passes against Troy Polamalu and Baltimore's Ed Reed, the best two safeties in the National Football League. And he knows it's not easy.

"They're the best two I've seen since I've been in the league," said Leftwich, who has played with three other NFL teams -- Jacksonville, Atlanta and Tampa Bay -- since coming into the league in 2003. "They're so instinctive and that allows them to make those plays. It's not a coincidence they happen. It's because those guys have instincts very few people have."

It's easy to argue and hard to determine which of the safeties is more valuable.

After all, Reed has more interceptions in the regular season (50) than any NFL player since 2002, the year he was the 24th overall draft choice of the Ravens. Of those, six have been returned for touchdowns and 20 have come in the fourth quarter when it usually matters most.

After spending the first six games of the season on the physically unable to perform list with a surgically repaired hip, Reed already has a team-high four interceptions in five games since his return. He hasn't returned one for a touchdown yet, but he got an assist when he intercepted a pass against Carolina and lateraled to teammate Dawan Landry for a touchdown.

Not surprisingly, the Ravens are 4-1 since Reed's return, one of the reasons they will battle the Steelers for first place in the AFC North at 8:20 p.m. today.

"Ed brings an element that very few players bring to the table," Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said. "He has really, really special hands and body control so he can make plays that most guys can't make. He covers more ground, too, but really, more than anything, he really understands the game, understands the defenses and understands the scheme he is up against."

The same can be said for Polamalu, who, in back-to-back victories against Oakland and Buffalo, is beginning to look like his old self.

Polamalu leads the Steelers with four interceptions -- he has 20 in his seven-year career -- none bigger than the diving pick he made at the Steelers 2 with 2:51 remaining in Buffalo. The Bills were trailing, 16-13, at the time.

That was the first of a three-play sequence in which Polamalu broke up a pass for wide receiver Stevie Johnson on the first play of the following series, then nearly stripped the ball from wide receiver David Nelson on second down -- a play that had to reviewed by replay.

"They're on a different planet when it comes to safeties," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "You have to know where they are at all times."

Polamalu has never had a regular-season interception in nine games against the Ravens, but it was his 40-yard interception return for touchdown in the 2008 AFC Championship game that sealed a 23-14 victory against them. The Ravens have not faced Polamalu since then.

Conversely, Reed has just one interception in eight games against Ben Roethlisberger, and that came in a 31-7 Ravens victory on Dec. 24, 2006.

"The plays that they make are not by accident," Leftwich said. "They're in those positions for a reason, that's why things tend to happen around those guys. It always seems to happen that the play comes their way, but, in reality, they're heading to where the plays are going to be. And that's the difference in them and a lot of people."

A closer look at the game within the game

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10339/1108166-66.stm#ixzz17FSKgjf8

12-05-2010, 09:19 AM
One is a free safety and the other is a strong safety! Can we please quit this crap?

Fire Arians
12-05-2010, 12:28 PM
One is a free safety and the other is a strong safety! Can we please quit this crap?

agree. both are great but 2 different types of players