AFCN Game Snapshots

With the bye weeks out of the way for the four ACFN teams, the Ravens travel to play the New York Jets, the Cleveland Browns host the Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals play the Redskins on the road.

Complete Game Listing:

Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at New York Jets (6-2)
Chicago Bears (3-5) at Tennessee Titans (3-5)
Detroit Lions (4-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)
Houston Texans (4-4) at Indianapolis Colts (5-3)
Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) at New Orleans Saints (3-5)
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-1) at Cleveland Browns (3-5)
Seattle Seahawks (5-3) at St. Louis Rams (4-4)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) at Atlanta Falcons (6-2)
Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) at Washington Redskins (3-5)
Carolina Panthers (1-7) at San Francisco 49ers (1-7)
Minnesota Vikings (5-3) at Green Bay Packers (4-4)
New York Giants (5-3) at Arizona Cardinals (3-5)
Buffalo Bills (3-5) at New England Patriots (7-1)

Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-5)

Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at New York Jets (6-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/14/04
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Bonnie Bernstein; DirecTV, 710
SERIES: Fourth meeting. The Ravens lead the all-time series, 2-1, but the teams have not met since the 2000 season finale. That last meeting was won by the Ravens, 34-20, in Baltimore, where Jermaine Lewis returned two punts for touchdowns (54 and 89 yards) and cornerback Chris McAlister ran back an interception 98 yards for a score.
2004 RANKINGS: Ravens: offense 32nd (8th rush, 32nd pass); defense 5th (7th rush, 7th pass). Jets: offense 9th (4th rush, 19th pass); defense 11th (11th rush, 12th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jets will lean more heavily on RB Curtis Martin with QB Quincy Carter making his first start in place of injured Chad Pennington. Carter isn't as well-suited for the Jets' play-action as Pennington, but his athleticism out of the pocket will force the Ravens defenders to avoid overpursuing. But the Jets won't take too many shots downfield with the Ravens secondary having scoring four touchdowns this season. Baltimore RB Jamal Lewis has been outspoken about his desire to get more carries, and he will face eight- and nine-men fronts as usual. The Ravens want to avoid the turnovers that have plagued them on the road and won't ask any more of QB Kyle Boller than they have to.

FAST FACTS: Ravens: The defense has produced more touchdowns (seven) than the offense has scored (three) in the last 16.5 quarters. ... Have allowed just one 300-yard passer in the past 13 games. Jets: Have 19 penalties the past three games after averaging just four through the first five games. ... Have committed just seven turnovers.

--OT Jonathan Ogden did not practice for a second straight day because of a pulled hamstring and likely won't play. He has not ruled himself out but has yet to run. He will be replaced by Ethan Brooks.
--TE Todd Heap is expected to return over the next three weeks. He has not participated in a full practice since spraining his right ankle in Week 2.
--CB Deion Sanders did not practice for a second straight day because of a toe injury and likely won't play. He is walking around with a limp. He would be replaced by a combination of Corey Fuller and Ray Walls.
--P Dave Zastudil leads the NFL with 16 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
--WR Travis Taylor needs seven catches to become the franchise's all-time leading receiver.

--DE Shaun Ellis practiced a little on Thursday and was upgraded to probable with a sore groin. He is expected to start on Sunday.
--FS Jon McGraw (groin) didn't practice Thursday and will be a game-time decision.
--OG Dave Yovanovits will move up and be the second guard off the bench behind Jonathan Goodwin now that veteran Brent Smith has been released.
--LB Sam Cowart is off the injury list with a sprained right knee and will play Sunday, getting in on about 10-15 plays.
--DE John Abraham didn't practice for the second straight day because of an unspecified illness and was taking fluids intravenously. He is, however, expected to play Sunday.

Ravens coach Brian Billick officially named Casey Rabach as the Ravens' center for the rest of the season, giving the long-time backup the nod over former starter Mike Flynn.
Rabach, a third-round draft pick in 2001, got the chance to start this season when Flynn broke his collarbone in training camp.
Flynn had been the team's starting center for the previous three seasons and signed a five-year contract worth $11.2 million (which included a $4 million signing bonus) in March.
"Casey is our starting center and it's going to stay that way," Billick said. "It's frustrating for Mike but Casey has been playing very, very well. To make that change right now, it wouldn't be prudent. Mike's done nothing to not be the starting center. But we've got a little bit of flow with Casey."
Right guard Bennie Anderson is expected to remain the starter at right guard, which means Flynn will be the top backup at center and guard.
Meanwhile, the Ravens are now expecting Todd Heap to return in no later than three weeks based on a study done by Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf.
The two-time Pro Bowl tight end sprained his right ankle on Sept. 19 against Pittsburgh and has yet to participate in a full practice. He has already been declared out for Sunday's game in New York, the seventh straight time he will be sidelined.
"Bill did a study on this specific injury and it was between 50 and 70 days; he's right at (Day 53)," Billick said of Heap, who originally was expected to miss two to four weeks. "Until somebody tells me the prognosis is different, there's nothing else we can do."
Billick indicated Heap's injury shouldn't be a season-ending one.
"Based on everything we've done, multiple specialists and multiple imaging, we're on the course that should bring him back to us," Billick said.

The Jets have allowed just two 100-yard rushers this season (New England's Corey Dillon and Buffalo's Willis McGahee) and it's no coincidence that those are the only two games the Jets have lost.
McGahee and the Bills ran over the Jets for 157 yards last week, mostly because the Jets couldn't control the perimeter. That's the key to stopping Baltimore's Jamal Lewis, an outstanding cut-back runner who's patient enough to wait for a hole to open but if one doesn't, he's fast enough to cut back and get to the edge. Once there, Lewis is usually facing just one tackler and uses his bulk to win that matchup.
"That's my problem that I've got to get solved. If you don't tackle and you don't stay in your gaps and maintain the fundamental leverages of your defense ... he's (gone)," defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson said. "Once he hits his crease he's running full speed down hill and all of a sudden the nightmare train is running."
A 5-foot-11, 245-pound dynamo, Lewis will be playing just his second game since serving his two-game suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse policy - a result of pleading guilty to federal charges of using a cell phone in June of 2000 to help set up a drug transaction.
After getting just 22 carries for 81 yards last week in his first game back against Cleveland, Lewis actually criticized Billick and the Ravens for not using him more. To a degree, his coach concurred and you can expect Lewis to get a healthy dose of carries against the Jets Sunday, at least 25 to 30 if the Ravens can help it.
The Jets need to keep the ball out of Lewis' hands in order to control the clock in their favor.
"That's the key to their offense," nose tackle Jason Ferguson said. "With a big line and a big back you know they can run on you all day. You get your mind right because it's going to be one of those games, one of those drag out games."
In six games this season, Lewis is averaging 4.5 yards a carry with five touchdowns.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-1) at Cleveland Browns (3-5)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/14/04
TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Dan Dierdorf, Armen Keteyian; DirecTV, 712
SERIES: 106th meeting. The Browns lead the series, 55-50, with the Steelers posting a 41-24 record since the 1970 merger. Bill Cowher, who began his coaching career with the Browns, is 14-5 against them. The only team he has beaten more is Cincinnati.
2004 RANKINGS: Steelers: offense 13th (1st rush, 26th pass); defense 2nd (1st rush, 6th pass). Browns: offense 24th (14th rush, 25th pass); defense 16th (9th rush, 22nd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Steelers enter with the league's No. 1 running game and top-ranked run defense. But RB Deuce Staley and FB Dan Kreider are questionable, which could be a big blow to their running game and put increased pressure on rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger to produce through the air. The less they are able to run offensively, the more the Steelers defense will be on the field after facing just 15 combined running plays the past two weeks. Cleveland needs to attack the middle, where Steelers NT Chris Hope has yet to be tested in replacing injured Casey Hampton. QB Jeff Garcia is showing increased comfort in the Browns' offense and his ability to avoid the rush and make plays downfield will tax Pittsburgh's secondary.

FAST FACTS: Steelers: RB Jerome Bettis needs 109 yards to pass Tony Dorsett (12,739) for fifth-place all-time. ... Roethlisberger can become the first quarterback since the 1970 merger to begin his career 7-0 with a victory. ... Coach Bill Cowher is 14-5 against Cleveland. Browns: K Phil Dawson has converted 26 consecutive field-goal attempts. ... Lead the series 55-50.

-- C Jeff Hartings resumed practice on and will start against Cleveland on Sunday. Hartings routinely takes off on Wednesday to rest his knees.
-- DE Travis Kirschke (back) practiced on Thursday and will play against the Browns.
-- RB Dante Brown, who is on the practice squad, could be added to the 53-man roster for Sunday's game, coach Bill Cowher said. Brown was on their roster last season but did not have a carry.
-- QB Ben Roethlisberger is 6-for-6 on the field and off. He won his sixth AFC rookie of the week award, one after each start.
-- TE Matt Cushing will start at fullback on Sunday if Dan Kreider cannot play. Cushing has been Kreider's backup the past two seasons.

--WR Antonio Bryant will start if Andre Davis does not make a miraculous recovery. Davis is listed as doubtful with sprained right big toe.
--WR Andre King is doubtful with a sprained ankle. The injuries to Davis and King leave the Browns thin at wide receiver.
--DB Michael Lehan is replacing Leigh Bodden as the left gunner on punt coverage. Bodden is the team leader with 18 special teams tackles, but he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a torn pectoral muscle.
--P Derrick Frost punted 25 times Thursday with no problems. He is playing on a sprained ankle and knee in his left (plant) leg.
--OL Joaquin Gonzalez has been picked to replace Kelvin Garmon at RG. Gonzalez is normally a tackle, but guards Melvin Fowler and Paul Zukauskas have not demonstrated they can fill in for Garmon. Garmon was placed on IR Tuesday with torn ligaments in his right knee.

Coach Bill Cowher said the Steelers will wait until Friday, Saturday or even Sunday morning before deciding what to do in their banged up backfield for Sunday's game in Cleveland.
The Steelers, boasting the top-ranked running game in the league, have only two healthy backs and one of those has three carries in his career, rookie Willie Parker. Jerome Bettis, listed as probable, practiced all week with a calf injury and probably will make his second straight start.
Duce Staley, whose 707 yards rushing leads the Steelers, did not practice again on Thursday and remains questionable with a hamstring injury. So does starting fullback Dan Kreider, who also has not practiced this week.
It appears that third-down back Verron Haynes, listed as doubtful with turf toe, will not play. He too has not practiced all week. Parker most likely will replace him on passing downs.

Browns defensive end Gerard Warren says the best way to stop Steelers red-hot quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is with intimidation by 'going across his head.'
"Kill the head and the body's dead," Warren, a defensive tackle, said. "Kill the head and the body's dead!"
Warren demonstrated by smashing his left forearm into the palm of his right hand. When told he could be fined $50,000 if he intentionally hits Roethlisberger with a forearm he said he would accept the fine.
"It would be well worth it going across a quarterback's head," he said. They're already over-protected in this league.
"He's a good kid. I've been watching him on film. He makes good reads and he has good releases getting the ball out when receivers are just getting into their break. It makes it tough covering them."
The Browns put very little pressure on Roethlisberger when the Browns and Steelers met Oct. 10 in Pittsburgh. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 231 yards and one touchdown pass. He threw one interception. Warren had a pulled pectoral muscle and did not play in the game.
Roethlisberger has won six straight games. If the Steelers win Sunday he will be the first rookie quarterback since the NFL merger in 1970 to start his career 7-0.
Asked again about a forearm to Roethlisberger's head, Warren said hitting Roethlisberger in the throat might work better. The Browns had no sacks and two quarterback hits on Roethlisberger.
"He has burned and torched every team he has played," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "We didn't get much opportunity to pressure him (the first time). We didn't play very good on first down. We learned from our sins of the first time by losing containment and not staying in coverage. We have to make sure he stays in the pocket."

Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) at Washington Redskins (3-5)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/14/04
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots; DirecTV, 717
SERIES: 7th meeting -- The Washington Redskins lead the series with the Bengals 4-2. Washington is 3-0 as the home team, including the last Cincinnati visit, a 27-24 Redskins victory at RFK Stadium in 1985.
2004 RANKINGS: Bengals: offense 25th (21st rush, 21st pass); defense 27th (32nd rush, 11th pass). Redskins: offense 27th (13th rush, 30th pass); defense 1st (3rd rush, 5th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: It's no secret the Redskins have to run the ball in order to win. RB Clinton Portis has three 100-yard games - all of them coming in the team's three victories. The Bengals have the league's worst run defense and will move the safeties forward and take their chances that QB Mark Brunell can't beat their corners downfield. The key will be whether Portis is able to produce more on inside runs, where Cincinnati's defense is softest. The Redskins enter with the league's top defense and will look to stop RB Rudi Johnson first. That has happened too often for the Bengals this season, who then need to rely on first-year starting QB Carson Palmer. Palmer needs WR Chad Johnson to come up with a few big plays against CBs Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs.

FAST FACTS: Bengals: Their three victories have come against teams with a combined 10-16 record while the opponents in their five losses have a combined 24-16 record. ... Have been outscored 178-101 in their six-game road losing streak. Redskins: QB Mark Brunell has a 103.4 passer rating in eight career games against Cincinnati, all while with Jacksonville. ... Lead series 4-2.

-- RT Willie Anderson was listed again as questionable Thursday for the game Sunday at Washington and missed a second consecutive day of practice.
"He'll be fine," coach Marvin Lewis said of Anderson, who has a 72-game starting streak.
Lewis also said Anderson is better emotionally this week. Last week, a doctor advised Anderson not to play for three weeks, and that news took time to process. Anderson's mood has been lighter this week, too.
-- G-T Scott Kooistra (back) returned to practiced Thursday and is probable. He is a key played as Anderson's backup in case the Pro Bowl right tackle can't play.
-- K Shayne Graham has 68 points, tied for fifth in the league
-- S Rogers Beckett (foot) was added to the injury report as probable, but he did practice. He has battled back from a series of concussions.
-- QB Jon Kitna (foot) was upgraded to probable and did practice.
-- DE Justin Smith (shoulder) remained probable but did return to practice today after sitting out Wednesday.

--S Ryan Clark (shoulder) sat out practice Thursday but remained probable on the injury report. Clark is expected to start alongside Sean Taylor against the Bengals.
--CB Walt Harris (knee) returned to practice Thursday and still didn't appear on the injury report. The Redskins don't feel Harris, who underwent knee surgery in February and took a rest day Wednesday, will have any problem playing.
--LB Mike Barrow (knee) practiced again Thursday but remains questionable for the Bengals game. It isn't expected that Barrow will make his Redskins debut.
--CB Fred Smoot (shoulder) practiced this week and should have no trouble playing against the Bengals.
--DE Renaldo Wynn (ankle) practiced this week and should have no trouble playing against the Bengals.
--RB Rock Cartwright (thumb) practiced this week and, if the Redskins elect to make him active, would play against the Bengals.

Rudi Johnson has proven his durability in the first half of the 2004 season.
In his first extended work as an NFL featured back, Johnson is on pace to set a Bengals single-season record for carries and run for the second most yards in franchise history.
His 175 carries project to 350 for the season, which would eclipse Corey Dillon's franchise record of 340 in 2001. And Johnson's 683 rushing yards - 12th in the NFL - put him on pace for 1,366, which would be second to Dillon's 1,435 from 2000.
The one question that remains is will the Bengals re-sign Johnson, who is playing under a one-year contract he signed as a restricted free agent.
After the season, Johnson will be an unrestricted free agent. The Bengals will have nine UFAs, but Johnson and center Rich Braham are the only two starters.
"We'll see what happens," said Peter Schaffer, Johnson's agent. "We've expressed to the organization that Rudi would like to be a Bengal his whole career. It's a two-way street. It's up to them."
Schaffer did not rule out Johnson's willingness to sign a new contract during the season. The agent set no deadlines. He did not say Johnson would go onto the market if there were not a deal in place by a specific date.
But Schaffer does have a contingency plan. If Johnson goes on the market, he would possibly join Seattle's Shaun Alexander and Indianapolis' Edgerrin James as top UFAs on the market.
But while Johnson has shown what he can do, potential heir apparent Chris Perry has not.
Rookie Perry, the Bengals' first-round pick and 26th overall, has played in just two games. He has three pass receptions for 33 yards and two rushes for one yard. Perry was slowed first by a hamstring injury and has missed the last three games with an abdominal strain.
Can the Bengals afford to let Johnson go and hand the job to Perry? Would the Bengals have to draft another running back or sign a veteran free agent if Johnson left?

The most intriguing matchup Sunday at FedEx Field? Not the Redskins against the Bengals. Try Washington quarterback Mark Brunell against the Redskins fans.
Brunell, who is enduring the worst season of his career, already got an earful from the FedEx Field faithful on Oct. 31, when he passed for 218 yards in a loss to the Packers. Fans booed Brunell and chanted for young backup Patrick Ramsey.
Funny thing is, that was Brunell's best game over the past month. The 11-year pro didn't even crack the 100-yard mark in the other three contests among the past four. On the season, he is down to 51.1 percent passing and 5.2 yards per attempt.
"This has been one of the toughest, probably the toughest, first halves of the season I've ever had," Brunell said. "But like we've said from the beginning, you keep plugging away, you keep working and believe it's going to happen. And I really do. We've got a lot of football left. We've got good players, we really do. We'll get this thing going."
The one thing Brunell continues to get is the unquestioned backing of coach Joe Gibbs. The coach, who has a history of riding veteran starters long after most coaches would have gotten out the hook, still points to Brunell's low interception total (five), ability to scramble out of the pocket and composure.
"I'd grade him as No. 1 on my list as far as confidence," Gibbs said. "He's been around forever. He's battle-tested. I think he understands you go through these things. I think he's the kind of guy who can handle it. None of us likes it. We're all frustrated by it. But I think he's handled everything very well."

Ravens Insider Top Stories