Paul Brown Stadium
Date: Sunday, September 19, 2010
1:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Type Of Turf: Artificial
Meeting Of The Year: First
Season Record Vs. Spread:
Baltimore (R) 0-0-0
Cincinnati (H) 0-0-0
Home/Road Record Vs. Spread:
Baltimore (R) 0-0-0
Cincinnati (H) 0-0-0
Record On Artificial Turf:
Record On Artificial Turf Vs. Spread:
Ravens-Bengals PreviewBy BRETT HUSTON
STATS Senior Writer
2010-09-15 17:28:58 -
The Baltimore Ravens' physical defense was at its bone-jarring best in a successful season opener, ruining the home debut of a 2009 AFC playoff team.
There's not much different about Baltimore's blueprint for Week 2.
A short week could make for a stiffer challenge Sunday in Cincinnati, along with a Bengals team that swept the division rival Ravens last year and is eager for redemption after a miserable opening-week effort.
Baltimore (1-0) opened the season with question marks in the secondary, where star safety Ed Reed (hip) is set to miss six weeks, Dominique Foxworth (torn ACL) is out for the season and fellow cornerback Lardarius Webb is recovering from a similar knee injury.
The Ravens' defensive backfield offered a pretty convincing answer Monday night. Baltimore suffocated the New York Jets' passing attack, holding Mark Sanchez to 74 passing yards and allowing six first downs in a 10-9 victory.
The Jets went 1 of 11 on third down and only spent 21:28 on the field.
"It was the best defensive performance I've seen here," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Everyone wants to talk about the secondary. How'd they play?
"The D-line lived up to its billing. Terrell Suggs just jumped off the field. Ray (Lewis), his performance speaks for itself. You can name guy after guy. Haloti Ngata was dominant. ... He just took over the game."
Baltimore's defense could get better this week. Webb may return, while rookie tackle Terrence Cody could make his debut.
The Ravens could use both against the Bengals (0-1), who went 6-0 in the AFC North en route to winning the division last season.
Particularly convincing were Cincinnati's two victories over the Ravens. Cedric Benson racked up 237 rushing yards in the wins while the Bengals' defense forced four turnovers and held Baltimore to an average of 236.0 yards.
Benson didn't get much of a chance to be a factor in Cincinnati's season opener. New England jumped out to a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter, forcing the Bengals to play catch-up in a 38-24 loss.
The NFL's fourth-ranked defense from a year ago allowed 248 yards in the first half.
"We'll just take a step back, humble ourselves, realize that we aren't as good as we think we are and think we can be," safety Chris Crocker said.
Crocker and the Bengals' cornerback tandem of Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph will have their work cut out for them with Baltimore's revamped receiving corps, which includes Anquan Boldin and former Bengal T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Boldin had seven catches for 110 yards in the opener, while veteran tight end Todd Heap caught six of Joe Flacco's passes for 72 yards.
Heap strained his shoulder in the fourth quarter but isn't expected to sit out Sunday despite a short week that has Harbaugh concerned.
"It's very difficult," Harbaugh said. "But it doesn't matter, because that's our challenge."
A pair of less serious issues, meanwhile, defined the debut of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens as teammates. Both left for the locker room just before halftime despite Cincinnati holding possession, with Ochocinco reportedly receiving intravenous fluids while Owens tended to an apparent issue with his shoes.
"It's over," said coach Marvin Lewis, who repeatedly referred to the Twitter-crazed Ochocinco as a "knucklehead" in a press conference Wednesday. "It occurred, but it's not that big a deal. We were ready to go with the (other) guys."
In the second half, however, Carson Palmer and his receivers thrived in a no-huddle offense that Cincinnati frequently employed last season. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski doesn't want to use it too often for fear of alienating Benson, who doesn't mind the no-huddle - as long as a commitment to running remains.
"We ought to be able to line up and be able to run whatever we want," said Benson, who had 43 yards on 15 carries. "The things we did last year, it got us a long way. It got us to the playoffs. It's important this year that we stick to our guns and get that established."
The ground game might be the best way to attack the Ravens. The Jets averaged 5.5 yards on 21 carries despite their repeated inability to throw the ball.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will want to get its own rushing attack going. Ray Rice was held to 43 yards on 21 carries in the opener, a tough day the Ravens overcame by converting 11 of 19 third downs.
Rice had 278 all-purpose yards against the Bengals last season, but Flacco's struggles were a big reason for Cincinnati's sweep. The 2008 first-rounder had one touchdown and four interceptions in the two games.
The Bengals have won their past four home games in the series with Palmer starting.
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