OWINGS MILLS, Md. — If there was a list of distractions that you don't want to have as a team leading up to an AFC championship game, the Ravens are dealing with one that has to rank near the top.
Days before battling New England for a trip to the Super Bowl, Baltimore has had to address its future Hall of Fame safety criticizing its already often-criticized quarterback. Ed Reed went on national radio this week to say Joe Flacco was "rattled" in last Sunday's playoff game and "just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense."
Everyone in the Ravens organization predictably said this is a non-issue. But how can it not be?
This is different than Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley taking a shot at Flacco. This came from within the Ravens' own locker room.
"It was a little fun to me, I was a little caught off guard," Flacco said today. "It is what it is. We talked about it. It’s not that big of a deal."
But it is a big deal because this type of talk happens to teams out of the playoffs (namely, the Jets). This doesn't usually happen when teams are going after the Lombardi Trophy.
Flacco said he first saw Reed's comments on television while eating dinner.
"When I first saw it, I was like: ‘What’s going on?,'" Flacco said. "Like I said, we talked about it. We’re a team around here. It’s not that big of an issue. I really don’t take things that bad. It’s Ed. It is what it is."
"I understand where Ed’s heart is at," said Harbaugh, who spoke to Reed about the comments. "We’re together all the time. We know each other. We know where each other is coming from. I’m sure there are some things he would have liked to have said better. The way you read them, I’m sure he’s not real happy about that."
Lewis said this won't become a distraction for the Ravens.
"It’s not an issue," he said. "The only issue we have as a team is going up and trying to get a win in Foxboro. Anything else anyone wants to bring up is irrelevant. Every person in our locker room is thinking the same way."
Lewis has always been a vocal supporter of Flacco, who became the first quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game in his first four seasons.
"I think I’m more shocked about how people speak about somebody who is just a flat-out winner," Lewis said. "There is no one side to anything. There is no one player that makes a team great. It takes a team effort."
The Ravens can downplay Reed's comments, but it's a big deal. And it will become a bigger deal if Flacco and the Ravens don't come through in New England.