Ravens-Steelers III: Ward 'respects' Ed Reed

PITTSBURGH -- While there is plenty of bitterness involved in the AFC North rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, there is just as much mutual respect in both locker rooms.

For example, Pittsburgh veteran receiver Hines Ward discussed his respect Wednesday for Ravens Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed. Ward recently introduced Reed for the NFL's compilation of the league's 100 greatest players.

"I did that, and it was just out of respect," Ward said. "They asked if I would do a presentation on Ed Reed and I said 'Sure, why not?' We've had our battles over the years. He's hit me and I've hit him a couple times. It's always been very physical between both of us.

"But at the end of the day -- and I'm a little bias towards Troy [Polamalu] -- but he is by far, No. 1 or No. 2, the best safety in the league."

Reed pulled off an amazing feat this season. Despite starting on the physically unable to perform list and missing six games following hip surgery, Reed led the NFL with eight interceptions in 10 games. Often Reed's picks come in bunches. He had three multi-interception games this season and is the NFL's active leader in that category with 11 total.

"He's a game-changer, same thing with Troy," Ward said of Reed. "When you're playing good and you're a great player, great things just happen when you're around. [Reed] will pick up a fumble and take it to the house. A tipped pass, he will take it to the house or somebody will pitch it to him and he will take it to the house.

"Those guys just have a key knack for making plays when they need it the most, and he's right up there with Troy."