Spotlight on McNair

The first possession by the Ravens in Monday's loss to the Bengals, started with veteran quarterback Steve McNair completing 2/5 throws for a total of 26 yards. On their next possession, the Ravens started at their own 44 yard line in excellent position to get the first score of the game.

On first down, McNair was unable to get the ball into McGahee's hands on the stretch play, and the ball was turned over. For Steve McNair, the game that started out with positive momentum was quickly changed.

On the Ravens next possession, McNair was sacked by linebacker Ahmad Brooks, forcing another Ravens turnover. Aside from the Ravens touchdown scoring drive at the start of the second quarter, where McNair went 3/4 for 46 yards, the former NFL co-MVP never seemed to regain his poise and accuracy.

Monday night's game in Cincinnati is one of four nationally televised games that the Ravens are scheduled to play in 2007. Players look at nationally televised games as the time to show the rest of the league what they're capable of. For McNair, primetime in Baltimore hasn't been kind.

Since coming to Baltimore in 2006, Steve McNair has started in four nationally televised games: at Denver , at Cincinnati , a home playoff game against Indianapolis , and Monday's game in Cincinnati . McNair, regarded as one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the game, has had trouble in the national spotlight with the Ravens. In McNair's four primetime games, he has thrown for an average of only 192 yards per game. More disturbing, McNair has thrown only one touchdown pass in any of those games (2006 vs. Cincinnati ), but has thrown for a miserable six interceptions, including a back-breaking red-zone interception in the playoffs against the Colts, and has put the ball on the ground an astounding five times.

Before coming to Baltimore , McNair, who led the Tennessee Titans within one yard of winning Super Bowl XXXIV, hadn't played in a nationally televised game since 10/11/04 in a win on the road against the Green Bay Packers. The Titans played in three more nationally televised games while McNair was on the roster, but McNair did not play due to injuries.

However, all is not lost for Ravens fans. Not counting Monday night's loss in Cincinnati , McNair came back with a vengeance after last years primetime losses against the Broncos and Bengals. In McNair's first game back after the loss to Denver , McNair completed 74% of his passes, throwing for 2 touchdowns, and running for one against the New Orleans Saints. After the road loss to the Bengals, McNair completed 77% of his passes against the Kansas City Chiefs, including an 87 yard touchdown to Mark Clayton. What's even more impressive is that both of these performances came on the road, in stadiums where crowd noise and atmosphere are imposing.

After Monday's loss to the Bengals, McNair didn't make excuses. "We can get better and we're going to get better. I guarantee it." When asked about the turnovers, McNair took full responsibility. "You got to take responsibility as a quarterback and the leader of this football team to get that corrected, and we will get that corrected." McNair went on to say, "This will never happen again, putting my team in a position with six turnovers. This will never happen again." If McNair's history is any indication, fans can expect a solid follow-up performance by the leader of the Ravens offense.

Will Spencer is a moderator for Ravens Insider.

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