Ed Reed finds himself in the crosshairs of the NFL again for a questionable hit.
Reed was one of three Ravens -- the fourth-most penalized team in the league and the only one with more than 1,000 penalty yards -- charged with personal foul calls in Sunday's 33-14 win vs. the New York Giants.
After reviewing the play, an NFL official with knowledge of the situation told CSN Baltimore that it was an "easy call" and that Reed's hit was illegal because it resulted in helmet-to-helmet contact.
Receiver Torrey Smith was flagged for a blindside block to the head and neck of linebacker Keith Rivers, negating a 13-yard gain by Ed Dickson. Left tackle Michael Oher was called for a chop block -- hitting a defender low while he’s engaged with another player –- on the same drive.
Reed was called for a hit on Victor Cruz in the fourth quarter. Cruz caught the ball near the sideline and the referees determined it was a hit to the head and neck.
“I don’t know what is going to come of it. I had the referee whispering into my ear on the second play. All I like to do is play the game,” Reed said. “I don’t really know what to do with that. I thought it was a decent hit.”
For Smith, replays showed he got in front of Rivers to deliver a block to his with his shoulder into the chest. There didn't appear to be any helmet-to-helmet contact.
Reed’s hit began with a shoulder to the chest of Cruz, but on the follow through is where he may have made the helmet contact.
In a Week 11 win at the Pittsburgh Steelers, Reed was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on receiver Emmanuel Sanders as he made a catch on the sideline.
He initially was suspended by Merton Hanks, NFL vice president of football operations, for having his third violation in three seasons. The suspension would’ve included the loss of an entire week’s salary of $423,529, a week-long ban from practice and the team’s training facility and Reed would’ve missed a Nov. 25 game at the San Diego Chargers.
But the penalty was appealed by Reed. That led to a review by Ted Cottrell, a hearing officer who is paid by the league and NFL Player’s Association. Reed’s suspension was lifted and he was given a warning and just a $50,000 fine instead.
Cottrell wrote a letter to Reed after his decision: "I have determined that your actions were egregious and warrant significant discipline. However, I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay. Player safety is the league's primary concern in the formation of playing rules and all players are expected to adhere to those rules or face disciplinary action. I hope in the future you will focus on ensuring that your play conforms to the rules."
If Reed does get suspended for the regular-season finale at the Cincinnati Bengals it comes at a time where he was unlikely to play much anyway.
The Ravens clinched the AFC North with Sunday’s victory and their postseason status isn’t impacted by the outcome of the Bengals game.
Of course, he’ll be almost $500,000 lighter in the pocketbook for the season.