Report card

Bengals 21, Ravens 10

September 24, 2001|By Mike Preston

Quarterback -- C

Elvis Grbac needs to take out an additional life insurance policy. His drop-backs became sprint-outs because of the pressure. He played well in the first half, but tried to make too many things happen in the second. His arm is strong enough to carry an offense, but the Ravens didn't given him enough weapons or time to throw.

Offensive line -- D-

This group must play well for the Ravens to have success this season. So far, the unit hasn't produced. If it keeps going south, look for rookie Casey Rabach to replace Mike Flynn at center, and for Flynn to be moved to right guard. It can't get any worse, and Grbac would appreciate it.

Running backs -- D

There is no way to tell if Terry Allen still has anything left, because he gets attacked before he hits the line of scrimmage. But it would be nice if he broke a tackle on a screen or a pass in the flat. Fullback Sam Gash has to improve on his pass-blocking. Grbac would appreciate that, too.

Receivers -- C

For this offense to work, the receivers have to stop dropping those 10- to 12-yard passes. This team needs a go-to receiver on the outside. Tight end Shannon Sharpe keeps coming up with key receptions, but the Ravens need someone to complement him.

Defensive line -- C+

The group played well enough to win, but it hasn't dominated like last season. The Bengals seemed to keep the unit off-guard. Defensive end Michael McCrary had five tackles, but the only other defensive lineman with a tackle was end Rob Burnett.

Linebackers -- B

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis had eight tackles and weak-side linebacker Jamie Sharper had seven. But the group didn't contribute many big plays because it had to play on a short field much of the game. Strong-side linebacker Peter Boulware didn't get much of a pass rush.

Secondary -- C

Cornerback Duane Starks didn't play well in run support even though he got held a lot on off-tackle plays. Strong safety Corey Harris led the Ravens with nine tackles. The Bengals did a nice job working the ball underneath the Ravens' coverages.

Special teams -- C

Kyle Richardson averaged only 28.6 yards on five punts, including one of only 9 yards. Chris McAlister returned punts in place of the injured Jermaine Lewis, but he was indecisive. Kickoff returner Patrick Johnson's fumble led to a Bengals touchdown in the third quarter. This team needs Lewis to return quickly.

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