J. Lewis: Point is proved

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

He says big day rushing shows his performance, team's fate not necessarily connected

Running debate

Ravens Gameday

Bengals 42 Ravens 29

November 28, 2005

CINCINNATI -- Ravens running back Jamal Lewis exhibited an "I told you so" attitude after his team's 42-29 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday.

Lewis promised last week that if he got 20-plus carries, everyone would see the 100-yard games that had been the hallmark of his career. He made good on that promise with 113 rushing yards on 23 carries, but was in little mood to gloat.

Instead, he brought up an old topic, railing against the notion that he was a primary reason for the team's losing record. Before yesterday, Lewis had failed to gain 50 yards in six of the 10 games, five of which were losses.

His only 100-yard game of the year also had resulted in a loss, a fact Lewis felt proves his point.

"It just shows you all that no matter how many yards you get, you can still come out with a loss," Lewis said. "And that doesn't play a part in how the game turns out. A lot of things take place to win the football game in every part of the game and every part of the team.

"Just because Jamal Lewis doesn't get 100 yards, it doesn't mean we're going to lose. I went out and ... ran the ball 23 times, and we still went and lost. So what excuse are you going to use next?"

Lewis seemed to be the one making excuses when he discussed his subpar season last week. He pointed at his low number of carries, but he had rushed 29 and 24 times in two previous games, yet failed to reach 90 yards.

But Lewis gouged the Bengals' poor rushing defense, running over defenders and gaining 76 yards in the second half yesterday.

What was the difference?

"Being able to stay in the game and get things going like I've been talking about all year," Lewis said. "Being able to stay in there and get a feel for the defense and get a rhythm going. The offensive line got a chance to get a rhythm going. Even though we were down, we didn't get away from the run."

A few more 100-yard games and Lewis might be able to crack the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He now has 621 yards.

"I could care less about numbers," Lewis said. "It's all about winning the football game, and we didn't go out and do that."

brent.jones@baltsun.com

SLIPPING AND SLIDING

Portions of the game were played in a steady rain, and conditions became so wet it looked as if the players were affected.

Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller, in particular, seemed to be bothered by the weather, twice slipping on pass attempts and fumbling three times (losing one).

Deion Sanders also fumbled after his interception, and the Bengals lost two fumbles.

"This is the first time I've worn cleats because of my toe," Boller said. "The ball slipped out a couple of times just trying to get it out of my hands quick. It was just out of my control."

ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Whether it would have made a difference if Kyle Boller had hooked up with Derrick Mason in the first quarter, the quarterback said he doesn't know.

But the pass, which came on the 11th play of the opening drive, could have given the Ravens a touchdown instead of forcing a punt from the Bengals' 34. Mason beat one-on-one coverage, and no defender was within 5 yards. He was shading toward the middle of the field, but the ball sailed over his right shoulder to the outside.

"It's a throw that I'm going to see in my sleep over and over," Boller said. "It was the look I was looking for. [Mason] had a push up inside of Deltha [O'Neal], and I threw the ball a little bit too early and pulled the ball in the middle of the field instead of having a terrific catch."

Taylor shelved

Running back Chester Taylor was a surprise inactive. Taylor had suffered a foot injury and did not practice last week, but the Ravens had maintained he would play.

"We'd hoped the foot would come along, and it just didn't," coach Brian Billick said. "We'd hoped that at game time he'd be OK, but it just wasn't good enough to go."

With Musa Smith also out, the Ravens had only three healthy backs, rushing normal fullback Justin Green a season-high five times for 4 yards.

Ed Reed, Patrick Johnson, Ray Lewis, Keydrick Vincent, Orlando Brown and Clarence Moore also were inactive.

End Zone

Tight end Todd Heap had 87 receiving yards and now has 2,615 in his career, passing Michael Jackson (2,596) for third place on the Ravens' career list. ... Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh displayed a much-desired trophy at his feet afterward: the shoes that Deion Sanders, his childhood idol, wore in the game. "He said [before the game] that he would give them to me, and I appreciate him giving them to me," Houshmandzadeh said. ... The Bengals' 8-3 start is the best since their 1988 AFC championship season. The Bengals are 4-2 at home and 4-1 on the road. ... Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis, the Ravens' former defensive coordinator, has won three in a row against his former boss, Brian Billick. Lewis is 4-2 against the Ravens in three seasons as Bengals coach.

Bengals stay calm

Rather than lose his cool as his team's 34-0 lead fell to 13 points in the fourth quarter, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis remained positive.

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