The Ravens don't have a better alternative, so Ed Reed has to play -- and tackle -- better. At first, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis couldn't stand the sight of his defense trying to hold off the Dallas Cowboys in the final two minutes of Sunday's game without him. He flexed his right triceps, which was injured late and knocked him out of the game, and sat down by himself on a bench. But this is Ray Lewis we are talking about, and he didn't stay there for long. He walked to the far end of the sideline, stood for a couple of minutes and then took a knee as he watched free safety Ed Reed and the defense try to hold onto an eight-point lead. On a critical 3rd-and-27 play, Reed, the other aging cornerstone of a now very vulnerable Ravens defense, halfheartedly flung his body at wide receiver Dez Bryant, who shrugged off Reed's feeble attempt at a tackle and finished off his catch and run for a 17-yard gain. Both Lewis and Reed were helpless to do much of anything as the Cowboys eventually got into the end zone. We will know the severity of the linebacker's injury later today, after the results of his MRI are revealed. There is a chance Lewis could be out for a while, and Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain will be called on to fill his Canton-bound cleats. Lewis has struggled against the run in recent weeks, and the drop-off, at least in terms of on-field performance, might not be as steep as you think. But the Ravens are stuck with Reed, who can still play but who seemed to be indifferent about tackling ball-carriers Sunday. "We know that's about fundamentals and technique and wrapping up," said Reed, who isn't concerned about the missed tackles. "That's what it all comes down to. We know everybody here has the attitude to tackle." Three weeks after he threw his body around the field in the win over the New England Patriots -- picking up a penalty and a fine for a personal foul on Deion Branch -- Reed failed to wrap up the ball-carrier on at least three plays. On one first-quarter run by Cowboys back DeMarco Murray, Reed got stiff-armed by Murray, then jogged after him as he picked up an additional 10 yards. Early in the second half, Reed couldn't hang with tight end Jason Witten in man coverage and couldn't tackle him, and cornerback Cary Williams had to clean up Witten along the sideline to finally stop Witten after a 45-yard gain. While the Ravens have capable alternatives to Lewis, there are none for Reed, who remains a threat to quarterbacks as a deep safety in zone and whose savvy and leadership are enough to outweigh a few missed tackles. Reed still has more to give, but it appears that with the good, the Ravens have to take the bad tackling.
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