Ravens At Bengals

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, 1 p.m., Ch. 13

September 23, 2001

Scouting report

Ravens rushing vs. Bengals run defense -- EVEN

The Ravens can gauge where their running game stands better against the Bengals. In the season opener vs. the Bears, the Ravens' offensive line couldn't move an impressive Chicago front, and RB Terry Allen couldn't break tackles, managing just 1.9 yards a carry. Cincinnati DTs Oliver Gibson and Tony Williams, both of whom lack the girth of Chicago in the middle, held the makeshift Patriots to 68 yards rushing. The keys for the Ravens are cutting off the pursuit of OLB Takeo Spikes as well as finishing their blocks.

Ravens passing vs. Bengals pass defense -- RAVENS

This is the game's biggest mismatch, pitting efficient Ravens QB Elvis Grbac against the inconsistent Cincinnati secondary. Grbac completed 80 percent of his passes (24 of 30) and connected at least twice with six receivers. That spells trouble for a mistake-prone Bengals secondary that has allowed 11 TDs while intercepting only two passes in its past six games dating to last year. With first-round pick Justin Smith expected to play in passing situations, Cincinnati needs to apply pressure to Grbac to bail out its defensive backs.

Bengals rushing vs. Ravens run defense -- RAVENS

The true mastery of the Ravens' defense can be summed up in its domination of Cincinnati RB Corey Dillon. Since 1999, Dillon has averaged only 33.3 yards a game against the Ravens while producing 93 yards a game against the rest of the NFL. Dillon breaks most of his big plays by cutting back and spinning out of tackles. But the Ravens' disciplined front seven stays in its gaps and simply bottles him up.

Bengals passing vs. Ravens pass defense -- RAVENS

The Bengals have improving weapons in WRs Darnay Scott and Peter Warrick, but new QB Jon Kitna may struggle to find them. The Ravens recorded six sacks in two meetings last year, and CBs Duane Starks and Chris McAlister have used the two-week layoff to return to full health. To shore up their vulnerable left tackle spot, the Bengals have added Richmond Webb, the former Miami Dolphin. The mobility of the 34-year-old lineman will be tested by the relentless Michael McCrary.

Special teams -- RAVENS

Jermaine Lewis will likely miss the game with a strained hamstring, but the Bengals prefer to angle punts out of bounds rather than kick to him anyway. The Ravens have an adequate replacement with Corey Harris on kickoffs, but they'll miss Lewis' breakaway potential. The Ravens proved to be solid on their coverage teams in the opener and should negate Cincinnati's Curtis Keaton (36.3 yards) on kickoff returns and Peter Warrick (4.0) on punt returns.

Intangibles -- BENGALS

Riding high from their first season-opening win in five years, the Bengals have a motivational edge. Some of the Bengals are still seething from losing by a combined score of 64-7 last season and were vocal in their displeasure this past week. With the Broncos and Titans on the horizon, the Ravens are primed for a letdown.

Prediction -- RAVENS

The improving Bengals may know how to talk the talk, but the Ravens have quieted much more talented teams. Ravens, 20-6. -- Jamison Hensley

Breakdown

Records : Ravens 1-0; Bengals 1-0.

Line: Ravens by 7.

Vs. spread: Ravens 1-0; Bengals 1-0.

Series: Ravens lead 7-3.

Last meeting: Ravens won, 27-7, on Nov. 5, 2000, in Cincinnati.

Quick hits: Ravens have won past six meetings. ... Ravens have won NFL-high eight straight regular-season games. ... QB Elvis Grbac was 5-for-5 on third down in Week 1. ... TE Shannon Sharpe had 12 catches and three TDs against Bengals last year. ... Ravens defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 38 straight games. ... Bengals have not been 2-0 since 1995. ... Curtis Keaton is NFL leader after Week 1 with 36.3-yard average on kickoff returns. ... K Neil Rackers matched his career high with a 47-yard FG in Week 1.

Injuries

RAVENS: Out: OT Leon Searcy (arm). Doubtful: WR Jermaine Lewis (thigh). Questionable: CB Gary Baxter (knee). Probable: DT Sam Adams (leg), WR Qadry Ismail (hip), DT Tony Siragusa (knee).

BENGALS: Questionable: DE Vaughn Booker (thigh), G Victor Leyva (ankle). Probable: OLB-MLB Adrian Ross (ankle), WR/PR Peter Warrick (knee).

Lineups

Ravens offense

WR 87 Qadry Ismail

LT 75 Jonathan Ogden

LG 64 Edwin Mulitalo

C 62 Mike Flynn

RG 77 Kipp Vickers

RT 78 Sammy Williams

TE 82 Shannon Sharpe

WR 80 Brandon Stokley

QB 18 Elvis Grbac

RB 29 Terry Allen

FB 32 Sam Gash

Bengals defense

LE 96 Vaughn Booker

LT 99 Oliver Gibson

RT 94 Tony Williams

RE 55 Reinard Wilson

LLB 95 Steve Foley

MLB 56 Brian Simmons

RLB 51 Takeo Spikes

LCB 22 Rodney Heath

RCB 27 Artrell Hawkins

SS 26 Cory Hall

FS 42 Chris Carter

Bengals offense

WR 86 Darnay Scott

LT 73 Richmond Webb

LG 72 Matt O'Dwyer C

74 Rich Braham

RG 63 Mike Goff

RT 71 Willie Anderson

TE 82 Tony McGee

WR 80 Peter Warrick

QB 3 Jon Kitna

RB 28 Corey Dillon

FB 41 Lorenzo Neal

Ravens defense

LE 90 Rob Burnett

LT 95 Sam Adams

RT 98 Tony Siragusa

RE 99 Michael McCrary

LLB 58 Peter Boulware

MLB 52 Ray Lewis

RLB 55 Jamie Sharper

LCB 22 Duane Starks

RCB 21 Chris McAlister

SS 45 Corey Harris

FS 26 Rod Woodson

Inside slant

Ravens scout George Kokinis sizes up the Bengals:

Strength: Receiving corps of Darnay Scott, Peter Warrick and Chad Johnson. Scott is a playmaker who has good deceptive deep speed. Warrick is dangerous before and after the catch since he runs extremely quick routes and is elusive.

Weakness: Consistency of K Neil Rackers and P Nick Harris. Both had productive games in the opener against the Patriots. However, Rackers was 12 of 21 on field-goal attempts last year.

Key matchup: Bengals DE Justin Smith vs. Ravens RT Sammy Williams. Smith is 6 feet 4, 270 pounds and runs a 4.7. Smith might see Jonathan Ogden, but putting him against Williams is probably the matchup they want.

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