Ravens - Bengals: Game notes

COSTLY FUMBLE: After rookie B.J. Sams muffed a punt with Baltimore leading 20-3 at the end of the third quarter, the Bengals went on to score on four consecutive possessions. <br><br> Sams finished with two punt returns for minus-4 yards. "All the guys were telling me to keep my head up," Sams said. "I messed up."

The momentum shifted significantly from that point onward as Cincinnati capitalized on Sams' miscue with a touchdown pass to Chad Johnson.

"You've got to fight through that, good and bad, and step up and do your job and we didn't do that," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of the sudden change. "You've got to kick it into gear. That's what this game is about."

CLOCK MANAGEMENT: The Ravens' final score came on a 45-yard Stover field goal with 1:44 remaining.

The Ravens started the drive with 5:38 left and worked 3:56 off the clock.
A holding penalty on center Casey Rabach pushed Baltimore back to the Bengals' 27 on third down.

"I think we did a pretty good job running time off," Boller said. "There was too much time to kill the clock completely. I tried to work it down to four seconds on the game clock each time."

SCORCHED: Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski called a creative game plan as Cincinnati posted 453 yards of total offense and averaged 9.1 yards per passing attempt.

"Coach Bratkowski called a phenomenal game plan," said quarterback Carson Palmer after passing for a career-high 382 yards on 80.6-percent accuracy. "He was guessing right, left and right, getting T.J. [Houshmandzadeh] open, getting Chad [Johnson] open in certain situations and running the ball at the right time."

Baltimore had the fourth-ranked passing defense, but the secondary, especially cornerbacks Gary Baxter and Chris McAlister, were burnt continually.

Houshmandzadeh and Johnson combined for 20 catches for 332 yards and three touchdowns. The showing pushed Baltimore's passing yards allowed average up to 188.3 per contest.

A clear indicator of the shortcomings was safety Will Demps leading the team with 14 tackles. "We need to look at the tape and identify where all the mistakes were and who the culprits were," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "Everyone on a loss like that really has to see where you can get better. For us, that was uncharacteristic and we don't want it to happen again."

STOVER MOVING UP: Stover booted four field goals and move into 12th place on the NF's career scoring list in the first quarter.

He eclipsed former New York Jets kicker Jim Turner, who had 1,439 points. Stover is now up to 1,451 points.

"It means that I've kicked a long time," Stover said. "I have had great opportunities here. I think if you kick long enough, you can move up there at a time."

TRAINING ROOM: Cornerback Gary Baxter injured his A-C joint in his shoulder.
"A lineman took a cheap shot, he got flagged for it and he needs to get fined for it," Baxter said. "I hope I can play next week. I haven't missed a game in a long time."

Offensive lineman Mike Flynn dislocated his finger but returned.

WIDE-OPEN: Wide receivers Travis Taylor and Clarence Moore both dropped crucial passes and were limited to two catches apiece for 40 and 9 yards, respectively.

On one pass Boller threw slightly behind Moore in the end zone, he could have secured the football but couldn't handle it. Taylor continues to play inconsistent football.

INACTIVES: The Ravens deactivated running back Jamal Lewis (ankle), nickel back Deion Sanders (toe), quarterback Anthony Wright, kicker Wade Richey, punter Dave Zastudil (shoulder), offensive tackle Orlando Brown (knee), linebacker Cornell Brown (infection) and defensive end Dwan Edwards.

It was Sanders' fourth missed game in a row, and Lewis' second.

Orlando Brown was replaced by Ethan Brooks at right tackle.

QUOTABLE: Defensive end Tony Weaver on the team's damaged playoff outlook with four games remaining in the regular season: "We've got to win them all."

QUICK HITS: Playing in place of Lewis, running back Chester Taylor rushed for a career-high 139 yards. He's up to 570 yards for the season, gaining on Lewis' team-high total of 651 yards. Taylor is expected to start next week against the New York Giants, too. ... Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded a sack and is up to 9 ½ for the season.
 

Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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