Football, game slip away

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Ravens Gameday

Bengals 13 Ravens 7

December 01, 2006|By EDWARD LEE

Too soon to play?

As if losing to Cincinnati last night wasn't bad enough, count Ravens coach Brian Billick as one who has reservations about playing Thursday nights.

Billick generally supports efforts to enhance the league's exposure, but he expressed some concern after practice Wednesday about playing just four days removed from Sunday's game.

"I don't think I'm being consulted on this one," Billick said with a smile. "For a league that places such a priority on the safety and health of the players, this one pushes that a little bit."

Thursday night games are part of the NFL's strategy to showcase the league in prime time outside of Sunday and Monday nights. Beginning with last week's game between AFC West foes the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL will broadcast a game every Thursday night through Week 16.

Still, Billick has his doubts about playing Thursday nights this late in the regular season.

"To play a Sunday game this late in the year and then come back and play Thursday is a lot for the players to have to deal with," he said. "Thanksgiving is fine, but to do this the rest of the way ... I hope they are selling a lot of beer because that's tough on the players. And coaches, you worry about covering all the little details."

Katula: `I just didn't execute'

Ravens long snapper Matt Katula is in the position of getting attention only when something goes wrong.

Still, Katula didn't shy away when he was asked about a low snap that seemed to contribute to Matt Stover sliding a 29-yard field goal wide left 12 seconds before halftime.

"I just didn't execute," Katula said. "I just need to put it in a better spot so that it doesn't make it hard on the holder [Sam Koch] to get it down. I've just got to try to be perfect.

"That's the nature of the job," he continued. "You'd like to be perfect every time. Unfortunately, on that one, I just didn't execute the way I needed to."

Mixed bag for O-line

The Ravens' offensive line mixed some positives with some negatives last night.

For the second straight game, the unit did not surrender a sack. Quarterback Steve McNair has been sacked just 14 times this season.

But the offensive line was flagged three times, including twice for false starts by guards Chris Chester and Jason Brown in a span of three snaps. And center Mike Flynn was charged with a holding penalty that complicated a promising drive that ended on downs at Cincinnati's 11.

"We need some improvement to be the quality and caliber of team that we can be," said Brown, who dismissed a sore left ankle suffered during a running play in the fourth quarter. "We definitely want to finish out the season strong."

Joseph's butter fingers

By one informal count, Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph dropped four potential interceptions during the game.

Joseph, who has yet to register an interception this season, might be asked to participate in more drills, according to coach Marvin Lewis.

"Yeah, we need to work on that," Lewis said. "We need to keep Johnathan here and make him do some jugs drills, I guess."

On the sidelines

Despite practicing with the first-team offense earlier this week, Ravens right guard Keydrick Vincent was inactive for the third consecutive game.

Vincent, who suffered a groin injury before the Nov. 19 win against the Atlanta Falcons, was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Chris Chester, who made his third career start.

Another surprise inactive was tight end Daniel Wilcox, who -- like Vincent -- practiced earlier in the week. Wilcox, who pulled his right hamstring in the third quarter of the Atlanta game, missed his second straight game.

With defensive tackle Justin Bannan (dislocated toe) and linebacker Dan Cody (torn posterior cruciate ligament) ruled out Tuesday, the team activated defensive tackle Dwan Edwards and cornerback Derrick Martin.

Edwards was active for the first time in six games and recorded one tackle. Martin, who played for the first time in four games, was charged with a holding penalty that negated a 31-yard kickoff return by Corey Ivy in the third quarter.

Other game-day scratches for the Ravens included running back Cory Ross, cornerback David Pittman, running back P.J. Daniels and wide receiver Devard Darling.

Five Cincinnati starters -- center Rich Braham (knee), left offensive tackle Levi Jones (knee), cornerback Deltha O'Neal (shoulder), defensive tackle John Thornton (knee) and right guard Bobbie Williams (appendix) -- were scratched.

Wide receiver Kelley Washington and linebacker A.J. Nicholson also were deactivated, and Doug Johnson was named the emergency quarterback.

Extra points

Flynn, Ivy, defensive end Trevor Pryce and linebacker Gary Stills were the Ravens' representatives for the pre-game coin flip. ... Prior to McNair's 36-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Derrick Mason with 1:01 left in the game, the Bengals' defense had set a franchise record with seven consecutive scoreless quarters. ... A handmade sign in the upper deck of Paul Brown Stadium read: "The Ravens ain't clinched nothing." ... Bengals second-string center Eric Ghiaciuc sprained his right knee late in the first half and didn't return. Center Ben Wilkerson made his NFL debut in the second half. ... Carson Palmer's passer rating was 97.7, ending his streak of three straight games above 120.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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