Ed Reed on playing Tom Brady: "I loved that matchup any day"

Former Baltimore safety Ed Reed is now a defensive assistant in Buffalo, and he tells the Talk of Fame Network what it's like playing Tom Brady. "It was as much mental as it was physical," he said.


(Ed Reed photos courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)

Talk of Fame Network

There's something about Ed Reed and the Baltimore Ravens that never seemed to fit with Tom Brady.

Yes, Brady was successful against them. He was 5-3, including the playoffs, vs. Reed in his career. But he had to earn those victories – with five contests decided by six or fewer points and Brady 1-2 vs. Reed in the playoffs, including a 28-13 loss in the 2012 AFC championship game in Reed’s last season.

“Those games were awesome,” Reed, now an assistant coach with the Buffalo Bills, said of the Baltimore-New England rivalry on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “It was as much mental as it was physical when you played those guys.”

One of the greatest safeties of all time, Reed is a certainty to reach the Hall of Fame when he's eligible despite voters' reluctance to induct pure safeties (there are only seven in Canton). It wasn't just that Reed was tough on Brady and the Patriots; he was tough on everyone, with 64 career regular-season interceptions, an NFL-record 1,590 interception return yards (including one of 108 yards and another of 106, the two longest in league history) and a league-record nine more interceptions in the playoffs.

No wonder he was a nine-time Pro Bowler, an eight-time All-Pro, a Defensive Player of the Year and an all-decade choice.

But now, as a defensive assistant with Buffalo, Reed has an opportunity to attack Brady and the Patriots from the sidelines, where he was lured this offseason by head coach Red Ryan -- formerly Reed's coach in Baltimore and, later, with the New York Jets. It’s Reed’s first job as an NFL coach, and talk about the right place at the right time: He arrives when New England, the perennial AFC East champion, could lose Brady for the first four games of the season due to a league suspension.


That’s good for the rest of the field, not so good for New England. But Ed Reed in the same stadium as Brady – be it on the sidelines or patrolling the middle of the field – is not so good for New England, either. In the Patriots' two playoff losses to Baltimore, both at home, they were overwhelmed – failing to score more than 14 points in either game. Worse, in Brady's three playoff starts vs. the Ravens when Reed was a starter he had three touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

“Those games,” Reed said of the rivalry vs. New England, “were awesome. You knew you were going against the best. You knew the outcome could be either way. You knew it was going to be a close game for the most part. You can only control so much, but those are the best games because you’re going against the best.

“Who didn’t want to play against the best players at the time – especially at the quarterback position. With myself being the safety and Brady being the quarterback ... I loved that matchup any day. It’s just that those guys are so good you had to be on point, you had to mind your p’s and q’s all the time.

“And I had so much respect for them as an organization and team … as coaches and players for what they stood for and what they accomplished. That’s what you wanted to go against.”

But what Baltimore accomplished, especially in the playoffs vs. Brady, was as impressive as it was unparalleled. So the logical question: Does Reed believe he ... and/or the Ravens ... were in Brady's head?

"Yeah, a little bit," he said. "But Brady … there’s a reason why we talk about him being one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Because of the matchups and what he did against us and how he won. We might’ve done some great things, but he moved the football ... It was always a physical game and mental matchup going against the man. You've got to like that."