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Nugent kicks Bengals past Baltimore

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By JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) — Five field goals were enough to extend the Bengals' domination of the AFC North.

Mike Nugent made a career-high five kicks, two of them in the closing minutes Sunday, and Cincinnati's up-to-the-challenge defense made it hold up for a 15-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Cincinnati (1-1) won the division last season by running the table, going 6-0 for the first time in franchise history. Its new kicker extended its streak of division wins to a club-record eight straight.

The Ravens (1-1) couldn't pull one out despite another brilliant day by their defense, which hasn't allowed a touchdown in its past 10 quarters since the playoffs. Baltimore was in position for a 10-9 win - the same score it beat the Jets by on Monday night - after Billy Cundiff kicked a 38-yarder with 5:46 to go.

Two big plays set up Nugent's winning kicks.

Bernard Scott returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to set up Nugent's go-ahead kick from 38 yards. Linebacker Brandon Johnson then intercepted Joe Flacco's tipped pass and returned it to the Ravens 11-yard line, giving Nugent a chance for his decisive fifth kick with 2:48 left.

The game essentially ended on Flacco's fourth interception.

Neither offense did much, leaving it up to the kickers. Cincinnati's newest acquisition made the difference.

Nugent overcame a groin injury during training camp and won a competition with Dave Rayner for the chance to replace Shayne Graham. The first time he was really needed, he was perfect on every kind of kick. He connected from 36 and 30 yards for a 6-0 halftime lead, then from 46, 38 and 25 yards in the second half.

The Ravens invested a lot of money into upgrading their passing game, adding Anquan Boldin, the injured Donte' Stallworth and former Bengal T.J. Houshmandzadeh as receivers. The offense had a tough time against a defense that got embarrassed in its opener.

New England had its way during a 38-24 win. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer blamed himself for overloading the playbook. This one would be on his players, he said.

They held up their end emphatically.

Flacco threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason in the third quarter, but spent most of the game dodging an unrelenting blitz that threw the passing game out of whack. He was 0 for 4 in the first quarter, the first time he went an entire quarter without a completion since his rookie season in 2008.

He was only 5 of 17 for 23 yards in the first half, when Baltimore managed 77 yards. He finished 17 of 39 for 154 yards with four interceptions, including Adam ''Pacman'' Jones' first interception since he was with Dallas in 2008. Jones sat out last season, when no team would sign him.

Game stats

Copyright 2009 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

 

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