Report card

November 22, 1999|By MIKE PRESTON

Quarterback -- C+ -- Tony Banks didn't dazzle anyone, but he got the job done, completing 24 of 40 passes for 274 yards. Banks was inconsistent at times, missing receivers in the flats and overthrowing Patrick Johnson for a possible touchdown in the first quarter, but he showed a lot of toughness after getting sacked seven times.

Running backs -- D -- Running back Errict Rhett had only 36 yards on 23 carries and at times looked indecisive about accelerating through holes. The pass blocking by Rhett, running back Priest Holmes and fullback Chuck Evans was atrocious. Evans also didn't seem to have the usual explosion in his lead blocks.

Receivers -- B -- Coach Brian Billick has waited too long to insert speedy guys like Patrick Johnson and Billy Davis into the lineup. Johnson may drop a few, but at least he gets open, which can't be said about some of the receivers who have gotten more playing time than him. Davis plays on special teams, but he'll have more impact on offense. No more excuses. Play these guys.

Offensive line -- D -- This group was out of sync all day. Guards Jeff Blackshear and Edwin Mulitalo had trouble getting to the linebackers on running plays, and right tackle Everett Linsday may have had the worst day of the entire unit. There wasn't much surge and the line basically was outplayed by a group it dominated last year in two games.

Defensive line -- C -- The Bengals' offensive line has had problems this season, but it gave the Ravens' defensive front some trouble. Reserve defensive end Fernando Smith came up big on goal-line defense, and starting ends Rob Burnett and Michael McCrary turned in strong efforts with their hustle. The Ravens could have done a better job of containing quarterback Jeff Blake on the outside when he was scrambling.

Linebackers -- C -- The Ravens' best linebacker yesterday was outside linebacker Jamie Sharper, who tied middle linebacker Ray Lewis for the team lead in tackles with eight. Lewis may have had some problems in his pass defense, and the Ravens really missed strong-side linebacker Peter Boulware, who dislocated his shoulder in the first seven minutes of the game. Substitute Cornell Brown was OK, but he got caught out of position on several running plays. He is no Peter Boulware.

Defensive backs -- C+ -- Free safety Rod Woodson seems to be settling in to his new position and had another interception yesterday. Cornerback Duane Starks baited quarterback Jeff Blake and intercepted a pass that he returned 43 yards for a touchdown. Cornerback Chris McAlister held his own against one of the best receiving corps in the league.

Special teams -- C- -- Punter Kyle Richardson performed well, averaging 47.1 yards a punt, and Matt Stover was 2-for-2 on field-goal attempts, including the game-winning 50-yarder. But the Ravens gave up too much yardage on kickoff returns and allowed an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown. It was the usual inconsistency. --

Keys to the game

1 The Ravens discovered a passing attack that finally was able to hit on some big plays downfield. 2 The Ravens' secondary, even though its gave up some big plays, made some of its own against a talented group of Bengals receivers. 3 Despite constant pounding and being sacked seven times, Ravens quarterback Tony Banks was able to hang in the pocket and make some crucial plays on the last drive.

Mike Preston

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