<
>

Bengals lose seventh straight in Baltimore

12/8/2003

BALTIMORE (AP) -- With one dominating performance, Baltimore
interrupted the Cincinnati Bengals' turnaround season and showed it
is a team not to be ignored.

Question on the Bengals: How does Lewis keep the team from letting this game have a lasting effect?
Lewis has done such a great job that I'm sure he'll stop his team from lamenting too much over this loss. The Bengals looked a bit too confident against the Ravens and it hurt them on the field. Lewis and his staff probably recognized that and will spend this week humbling his team. Also, he knows his team needs to play better defensively and will get it to respond to his direction.

Question on the Ravens: Assuming the Ravens make the playoffs, do you see them as a threat in the AFC?
This team has won found many different ways to win offensively. Some weeks, the running game is explosive and carries the way and QB Anthony Wright has shown the ability to light up opposing defenses. But the constant of this team is their defense. Every week, it finds a new way to beat up an opposing team and that's probably the most dangerous component of this team. Defense wins championships and with a defense as potent as this, the Ravens are in good shape heading into the playoffs.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Jamal Lewis ran for 180 yards and a career-high three
touchdowns, and the Ravens gained sole possession of first place in
the AFC North with a 31-13 victory Sunday.

"This is a statement game for us in our division," said
Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, who had an interception and nine
tackles. "We did what we need to do. We're hard to beat when
Jamal's running the ball like that and our offense capitalizes on
the turnovers we get."

The Bengals (7-6) came in looking to improve upon their
remarkable season with a fifth straight win. Instead, they played a
game that was all too typical of their recent past.

Cincinnati committed five turnovers, yielded a season-high six
sacks and had no answer for the punishing runs of Lewis, who scored
on runs of 1, 3 and 13 yards.

"They're physical, but we played more physical than they did,"
Jamal Lewis said. "Everything went exactly the way it was supposed
to go."

Despite playing with a sprained wrist, Lewis ran for 96 yards in
the second half and padded his margin as the NFL's leading rusher.

It all added up to the Bengals' seventh straight loss in
Baltimore and a disappointing homecoming for Cincinnati first-year
head coach Marvin Lewis, the Ravens' defensive coordinator from
1996-2001.

"We can't turn it over like we did today and expect to beat
anybody," Marvin Lewis said. "We have a lot of football left;
we'll prove what we're made of the next three weeks."

Baltimore (8-5) moved a game ahead of the Bengals in the AFC
North. Cincinnati beat the Ravens in October, and would have gained
a tiebreaker with a victory. But the Bengals never led after Jamal
Lewis scored a first-quarter touchdown following a Cincinnati
turnover.

The game was the opposite of the first meeting, when the Bengals
capitalized on Baltimore mistakes to win.

"It was a sour taste in our mouth the last time we played
them," Ray Lewis said. "We just knew we didn't play our football
game. Yeah, they were riding high, but they had to come into
Baltimore sooner or later."

The game was played in a brisk 20 mph wind. Although Bengals
quarterback Jon Kitna blamed the wind for one of his two
interceptions, he had no excuse for his two fumbles.

"We just had some really costly turnovers at certain points in
the game," he said. "But we'll bounce back. We've done it all
year."

The Bengals hadn't allowed more than four sacks in any game this
season, and Kitna had 19 TD passes and four interceptions in his
previous nine games.

He finished 23-for-31 for 214 yards. Eleven of his completions
were to Peter Warrick, who scored a touchdown but also committed a
turnover.

Down 17-10 at halftime, the Bengals promptly moved 47 yards
before Shayne Graham kicked a 38-yard field goal.

After a Baltimore punt, Kitna fumbled upon being sacked by
rookie Terrell Suggs, who recovered at the Cincinnati 17. Jamal
Lewis then ran for 14 yards before scoring from the 3 for a 24-13
lead.

He clinched the victory with 11:48 left, scoring after Will
Demps returned an interception 54 yards to the Cincinnati 21.

It was the fifth straight home win for the Ravens, now poised to
win the first division title in their history.

"All it does is create the opportunity to get something done
that we had set our sights on in training camp," Ravens coach
Brian Billick said.

A fumble by Jamal Lewis set up a field goal for a 3-0 Cincinnati
lead, but Warrick fumbled a punt to set up the first of Lewis'
three touchdowns.

Anthony Wright capped a 70-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown
pass to Marcus Robinson to make it 14-3, and after Warrick scored
on a 4-yard throw from Kitna, Matt Stover gave the Ravens a
seven-point halftime cushion with his 19th straight field goal with
2:09 left in the half.

Game notes
Baltimore LB Adalius Thomas sustained a fracture in the
elbow area and will likely require surgery. ... Jamal Lewis now has
146 career points, most by a non-kicker in team history. Jermaine
Lewis held the old mark (132). ... Warrick's 11 receptions were a
career high. He has 70 for the year, tying his season high set in
2001. ... Kitna is the only NFL quarterback to take every offensive
snap for his team this season. ... Cincinnati OT Levi Jones left
the game in the third quarter with a strained right knee and did
not return. ... Ravens KR Lamont Brightful sprained his knee in the
third quarter and did not return.