Holmes carries night New starter rushes for 173 yards

Ravens build 21-0 lead, hold on

Ravens 31, Bengals 24

September 28, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens survived a strong second-half comeback attempt and held on for a 31-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals last night at Ravens stadium in an AFC Central game.

Running back Priest Holmes, who led the Ravens with 173 yards and two touchdowns in his first start at running back, ran 10 yards for a first down with 1: 16 left in the game to seal the win for the Ravens (2-2).

The Bengals had driven as far as the Ravens' 32-yard line, but cornerback Rod Woodson knocked down a pass intended for receiver Darnay Scott on a short hitch route with 1: 46 left on a fourth-and-one to end the final scoring threat of the Bengals (1-3).

It didn't look like such a nail-biter in the beginning, as the Ravens rushed to a 21-0 lead.

The Ravens scored on their first possession of the game going 80 yards in 13 plays. Holmes finished the drive with a 3-yard run around left end as fullback Roosevelt Potts delivered the key block taking out three Bengals as the Ravens took a 7-0 lead with 7: 36 left in the first quarter.

Holmes, a second-year player making his first NFL start, had eight rushes for 48 yards during the possession. Ravens quarterback Eric Zeier, also making his first start this season, was 4-for-4 during the drive with 33 yards. He finished 15-for-20 for 254 yards.

The Ravens made it 14-0 on their second possession, this time going 82 yards in nine plays. Holmes, following a lead block from left guard Wally Williams on linebacker Brian Simmons on a counter play to the right, scored from 15 yards out as he went untouched into the end zone with 1: 45 left in the first quarter.

Holmes had 49 yards rushing in the drive, but the big play was a pass interference call on rookie cornerback Artrell Hawkins against receiver Michael Jackson that netted the Ravens 29 yards and put the ball on the Bengals' 26 on a third-and-four play.

The Ravens, breaking a past trend and throwing on five first downs in the first 18 minutes of the game, continued to attack the Bengals, mixing both the pass and run. On their next possession, Zeier, on first down, faked a handoff to Holmes and then threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Lewis down the left sideline that put the Ravens ahead 21-0 with 12: 27 left in the half.

Lewis ran a stop-and-go on Bengals cornerback Ashley Ambrose that caused Ambrose to fall around the 50-yard line. Zeier lofted a perfect pass to Lewis, who ran the final 45 yards for the touchdown.

But the Ravens self-destructed in the remaining time. Cornerback John Williams was called for interfering with the punt returner, which gave the Bengals possession at the Ravens' 48 with 8: 45 left in the half. The Bengals went only 19 yards in nine plays, but Doug Pelfrey came in to kick a 48-yard field goal with 4: 45 left in the half.

Then with 2: 35 left in the half, Zeier was sacked and fumbled after a fake end-around, and the Bengals took possession at the Ravens' 34. With 17 seconds left in the half, Bengals quarterback Neil O'Donnell passed to wide receiver Carl Pickens in the back of the end zone for a touchdown that pulled Cincinnati within 21-10 at the half.

The Ravens had 250 yards of total offense in the first half compared to 69 for the Bengals as Cincinnati was held to 21 yards passing. The Ravens also had three sacks in the first half. Holmes rushed for 92 yards on 15 carries in the first two quarters and Zeier was 9-for-11 for 157 yards.

The Bengals' Tremain Mack opened the second half by taking the kickoff and going 97 yards for a touchdown. Mack took the kick and started to his right, then as John Williams missed a tackle, burst free at the 20 and went the rest of the way untouched for a touchdown.

But as the Ravens started seeing the game slip away, Lewis returned a punt 87 yards for a touchdown, getting two key blocks from Duane Starks and Tyrell Peters, to put the Ravens ahead 28-17 with 8: 44 left in the third quarter.

The Bengals, picking on cornerback DeRon Jenkins, went from their own 15 to the Ravens' 19-yard line, but two straight sacks by defensive end Michael McCrary on O'Donnell, who was injured on the second, forced the Bengals to attempt a 51-yard field goal with 1: 54 left in the third quarter.

But holder/punter Lee Johnson couldn't handle the low snap, and pooch-punted the ball just into the end zone. Starting from the 20, Holmes took a handoff around right end for a 47-yard gain on the next play.

The Ravens, though, couldn't do anything with the field position.

Left guard Wally Williams was called for illegal procedure and holding on successive plays, and linebacker Takeo Spikes sacked Zeier on second-and-25 from the Ravens' 33.

The Bengals capitalized on their next possession. On first-and-10 from the Bengals' 33, Pickens ran a straight fly pattern on Jenkins and hauled in a 67-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Jeff Blake.

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