5 reasons for the Ravens-Bengals outcome

5 REASONS FOR THE OUTCOME <P> 1. There was a direct correlation between the result and strong-armed rookie quarterback Kyle Boller's travails at handling the football. Normally, Boller retains his poise and possession. In this case, the 22-year-old's lapses affected the Baltimore Ravens (3-3) greatly in a 34-26 defeat to the traditionally inept Cincinnati Bengals.

Although Boller posted career-high numbers of 302 passing yards and two touchdown passes, his turnovers led to 17 of the Bengals' first-half points.

First, Boller fumbled when he inadvertently banged the football into Jamal Lewis' hip on a play-action fake. That led to Bengals tight end Matt Schobel's touchdown to tie the game. Then, the rookie had the football ripped away from him by linebacker Brian Simmons to set up Corey Dillon's short touchdown run.

Finally, an interception on a pass Boller threw behind receiver Frank Sanders was followed by a field goal for a 24-7 advantage. By the time Boller was able to begin a comeback attempt after intermission with a string of spirals to Todd Heap and Travis Taylor, the Ravens' fate was essentially sealed.

2. Safety Ed Reed read the play accurately, a deep route to Chad Johnson. He protected the middle of the field and gained ground rapidly as Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna hung the football too long in the air. Then, the football deflected off Reed's shoulder pads, directly to Johnson in stride for an 82-yard score. It was the Bengals' longest touchdown pass in eight years.

It was just that sort of day for the secondary, which allowed 274 yards and three touchdowns on 16 completions for an average of 17.1 yards per catch. Usually, Kitna is the Ravens' patsy and a convenient scapegoat in Cincinnati for losses. Not this time. He withstood four sacks to compile a 130.8 quarterback rating.

3. Baltimore drew considerably more attention than it wanted from referee Johnny Grier and his crew. The Ravens committed a season-high 13 penalties for 113 yards. That sort of sloppiness, if repeated, won't keep them on top of the AFC North for long.

4. The Ravens converted just 18 percent of their third-down attempts, going 2-for-11 in that category in contrast to the Bengals' 47-percent clip.

5. Regardless of a plethora of clichés cited by the Ravens before and after this defeat about the capability of any NFL team, the question remains after this regression: Did they take the Bengals too lightly?

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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