Ravens prepare for an Ice Bowl against the Bengals

OWINGS MILLS - Vowing to wear short sleeves despite freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall, the run-oriented Baltimore Ravens say they're ideally suited for a modern version of the Ice Bowl. "This is a man's game," said offensive tackle Orlando Brown, part of the heaviest offensive line in football at 6-foot-7, 365 pounds. "I wouldn't miss this for anything. It hurts people more when you hit them and it's cold outside."

Heading into Sunday's AFC North encounter with the Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens (7-5) practiced indoors Friday at the McDonogh School gymnasium without incident. The stadium surface has been covered and is being heated through an underground pump that keeps the artificial turf from freezing. Team officials said the bleachers and seats will be shoveled off before Sunday's kickoff. "It will be great," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of an atmosphere charged by AFC North title implications and the wintry weather. "They should be fired up. Hopefully, they can get the snow off a few of the seats. Bring your own shovel." 

INJURY UPDATE: Both Brown (sore ribs) and defensive end Tony Weaver (neck) are listed as questionable, but said their injuries responded well to Thursday's contact drills and expect to start. Billick echoed that sentiment as Baltimore made no changes to its injury report. Despite recovering from the debilitating effects of a concussion, Cincinnati cornerback Jeff Burris practiced and has been upgraded from out to doubtful. Offensive guard Matt O'Dwyer was added to the injury report Friday as doubtful with a foot injury. Cornerback Artrell Hawkins (knee) was downgraded from probable to questionable. 

LAST-SECOND PROWESS: It took Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna only 44 seconds to drive 52 yards to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-20, a week ago. Starting at the Steelers' 48 after Brandon Bennett's 27-yard kickoff return, Kitna hit Peter Warrick for an 18-yard completion. Then, he called a draw play for Bennett to get the Bengals to the Steelers' 18. "We could've called timeout there, but I felt like, hey, let's not give them a chance to regroup," Kitna said. "Let's run the draw. Now, I'm thinking, 'Let's take a shot at the end zone.'" Kitna found tight end Matt Schobel on the for the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds remaining. "Jon's inspiring everyone around him to play good," tackle Willie Anderson said. "That's the trait of an MVP." 

GIVING CREDIT: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, the architect of the Ravens' Super Bowl defense, was asked if he receives too much credit for the title victory instead of Billick. "I think Brian didn't get enough," Lewis said. "He's the head coach. What Brian enabled me to do was grow to be the coach that I hopefully became through his direction and his vision with our football team. "The head coach is the ultimate hammer and people didn't give Brian enough credit because maybe we weren't the 35-, 40-point scoring offense that he had in Minnesota. That place was in shambles as well [before Billick took over in 1999]. There were some problems and Brian came in and got everything ironed out and pushed everything in the right direction." 

QUICK HITS: In five games against the Bengals, NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis has rushed for 582 yards for a 5.3 average per carry. He has averaged 137.8 total yards of offense against Cincinnati. … Linebacker Ray Lewis has been credited with 172 tackles, averaging 14.3 stops per game. … Kickoff specialist Wade Richey ranks second in the NFL behind Miami's Olindo Mare with 13 touchbacks. … Because of the snowfall, offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo won't be collecting musical instruments today for Baltimore public schools' music programs through Big Ed's Band Foundation. No rescheduled date has been announced yet. Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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