AFC Rivalry Renewed

The better return: Ray Lewis trumps Ed Reed without even playing, goes suit crazy

The better return: Ray Lewis trumps Ed Reed without even playing

Ray Lewis return
Ray Lewis enjoyed Tandon Doss' touchdown return from his sideline view. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Ed Reed purple
Ed Reed is back in Baltimore. But the purple is long gone.
Brian Cushing Texans comeback
Brian Cushing, J.J. Watt and Ed Reed? This is the defense Texans general manager Rick Smith envisioned. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Ray Lewis return
Ed Reed purple
Brian Cushing Texans comeback

 BALTIMORE — The most athletic thing Ray Lewis did all day is jog a few yards down the sideline as relatively unknown third-year returner Tandon Doss brought a punt back 82 yards for a touchdown. While Doss tip toed down part of the sideline, Lewis showed his excitement — in his suit.

And just like that, Lewis trumped Ed Reed in the Houston Texans' prized free agent's return to his own longtime home.

Reed played a lot. But he wouldn't have the impact of the retired guy.

 So much for Reed's much-anticipated Texans debut. He couldn't compete with the living, fire-breathing ghost. 

Call it coincidence if you want — not that anyone in Baltimore will believe you — but the Ravens exploded once Lewis started walking down to the sidelines to wait for his Ring of Honor halftime ceremony.

Trailing 6-3, Baltimore ripped off 14 unanswered points — on a Pick-6 from Lewis' unworthy fill-in and Doss' bit of sideline sprinting brilliance. Just like that, the Ravens held control of the latest game in what's turned into one of the AFC's most important rivalries.

Final: Ravens 30, Texans 9.

So much for Reed's much-anticipated Texans debut. He couldn't compete with the living, fire-breathing ghost.

"Clap as loud as you need to clap because this organization is No. 1 in the entire world," Lewis said in a halftime ceremony that took up nearly every second of the 15-minute break and saw few purple-clad fans at M&T Bank Stadium leave their seats.

And you thought Vanilla Ice was bad on concession sales? Lewis takes it to a new dimension.

"Baltimore, what we did together, not once but twice," Lewis continued, citing the two world championships — one that Reed also played a major role in. ". . . this city is all about love."

The Texans thought this game could be all about their defense.

For the first time this season, the full Bulls On Parade D that general manager Rick Smith envisioned stood whole. J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, Antonio Smith, Johnathan Joseph and Ed Reed ran out together. Playmakers galore.

The Bulls lived up to the billing for openers too. Seven minutes into the second quarter, Baltimore had one first down and 24 yards of total offense.

With the Texans first offensive drive chewing up more than half of the first quarter, it took a while for Reed to get on the field. He jogged out with 7:01 left in the first quarter, that familiar looking No. 20 striking in its new red numbered Texans look.

Reed's old compatriot Ray Lewis watched it all, decked out in a sweet suit, aviator shades and purple pocket square.

Ed Reed's New Look

The new Texan didn't have to do much on his first series. Reed never really came close to the football and the Ravens still went three and out.

Baltimore went three and out on its second possession too, never testing Reed after Shane Lechler — who Texans running back Arian Foster has dubbed Yellow Jacket for his Hall of Fame credentials — pinned Joe Flacco at his own 1-yard line.

Reed didn't make his first tackle until 7:42 left in the second quarter, wrapping up Ravens tight end Dallas Clark after a big 21-yard gain. Hardly a happy moment. Flacco was starting to find holes underneath in Houston's zone.

Three straight incompletions from the Texans' 10-yard line left Baltimore settling for a field goal and a 6-3 deficit. It all brought back memories of the defensive struggle of that classic 2011 season playoff game between these two teams in this stadium.

Biggest mistake loses?

The first touchdown of the game would fittingly be a defensive one. Only, it wasn't Reed picking off a pass and returning one to the house. Instead middle linebacker Daryl Smith — the would-be heir to Ray Lewis himself no less — stepped in front of an ill-timed Matt Schaub pass for Owen Daniels and brought it back 36 yards for a touchdown, untouched.

Lewis rejoiced to Baltimore's delight, somehow still looming over the game in a way it might take Ed Reed weeks to achieve.