Ravens - Bengals: 5 reasons for the loss

1. In a major display of ineptitude mitigated slightly by three touchdown passes during the Baltimore Ravens' aborted comeback attempt, quarterback Kyle Boller's disturbing first half spelled a 42-29 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Boller overthrew a wide-open Derrick Mason in the end zone on his first drive. He stared down his primary reads. He fumbled three times, recovering two. He slipped as if he were playing on ice. He threw two interceptions by the third quarter as Baltimore (3-8) fell behind 34-0. Boller was 4 of 12 in the first half for 37 yards and an 8.0 passer rating. He rebounded by lobbing a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Todd Heap and a score to Mason. While Boller finished 18 of 32 for 211 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for an 81.6 rating, his final statistics don't reflect how poorly he played when the game was being decided. In Boller's own words, the team can't win when he plays that badly. In a season that has degenerated into an audition for jobs, Boller's erratic showing can be viewed two ways. It either reflects a complete lack of progress in his third year, or a productive second half against a suspect, slumbering defense could become the turning point for the former first-round draft pick.

2. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer exposed an injury-riddled secondary with three touchdown passes, completing 22 of 30 passes for 302 yards for a 124.6 passer rating. He looks like a deserving Pro Bowl selection.

3. Receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh combined for 14 receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns, exploiting a secondary already without safety Ed Reed (ankle) that lost cornerback Chris McAlister (hamstring) and safety Will Demps (torn anterior cruciate ligament) midway through the game.

4. Hard-nosed runner Rudi Johnson gained 114 yards on 27 carries, gashing the defense for two touchdown runs.

5. Jamal Lewis produced his first 100-yard game of the season. Although he finished with 113 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, he only gained 37 yards on 14 carries in the first half. It was a case of too little, too late.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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