Ravens Lose to Bengals 27-20

SportsFootballBaltimore RavensRay LewisWillie AndersonNFL PreseasonDaniel Wilcox

 CINCINNATI (AP) -- What was left of the Bengals held on for a win
that hurt so good.
   With wounded players shuffling off the field in waves,
Cincinnati pulled off the kind of victory Monday night that could
set the tone for a season -- that is, assuming no one else gets
hurt.
   Carson Palmer threw his second touchdown pass in the fourth
quarter, and a suspect defense pulled off a goal-line stand in the
closing seconds that preserved a 27-20 win over the Baltimore
Ravens.
   "We know it's going to be a hard-fought game when we play these
guys -- tough, physical," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "It's
important to win the physical football games because you put so
much into it."
   In a bruising season opener matching the last two AFC North
champs, the Bengals (1-0) were the last one standing -- barely.
Baltimore (0-1) had a chance to tie it in the closing seconds with
Steve McNair sitting on the bench, out with a strained groin.
   Kyle Boller drove the Ravens to the 1-yard line, where a penalty
and Baltimore's sixth turnover sealed it. Todd Heap was called for
pushing off on his touchdown catch, then had a pass bounce off his
shoulder and into the hands of diving lineman Michael Myers with
1:13 to go.
   "It's tough to lose like this when you're right there," Boller
said.
   Even tougher for McNair, who had a hand in four of the Ravens'
six turnovers. One pass slipped out of his hand and was returned 34
yards by linebacker Landon Johnson for a touchdown. His tipped
interception set up Carson Palmer's go-ahead touchdown pass in the
fourth quarter.
   "I think the defense answered every question," said Palmer,
who was 20-of-32 for 194 yards with two touchdowns. "What did they
have, six, eight, seven turnovers? Every time I looked up, I heard
the crowd and I figured it was another turnover."
   It made the difference in a game of attrition.
   The Bengals had to work with a makeshift offensive line missing
three starters by the second quarter. They also briefly lost kicker
Shayne Graham, costing them on an extra-point try.
   Even receiver Chad Johnson limped off at one point, evidently
suffering from a cramp. The Pro Bowl receiver and incessant
self-promoter came up big for the Bengals, catching five passes for
95 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown.
   "I told you I would give you a show," Johnson said.
   Both teams overcame significant injuries to set up the frantic
finish.
   Safety Ed Reed returned a punt untouched 63 yards for a
touchdown that put the Ravens ahead 20-19 early in the fourth
quarter and silenced the crowd of 66,093, the second-largest in
Paul Brown Stadium's history. Reed had to return kicks because B.J.
Sams severely sprained a knee.
   "It's tough to lose when you've worked all offseason for the
opener," Reed said. "Mentally, you have to let it go."
   The emotional lift didn't last long. McNair had the most to do
with that.
   In his second season running the Ravens' offense, he had one of
his worst games. McNair fumbled on a sack, muffed a handoff to
running back Willis McGahee, and let the ball slip out of his hand
on a pass attempt, setting up Landon Johnson's easy touchdown.
   "The turnovers, that's unacceptable," said McNair, who was
20-of-34 for 203. "I have to give my team a chance. It starts with
me on five of those six turnovers. I've got to correct that."
   Despite all that, the defending division champs had a chance to
hold the lead and pull out one of those make-or-break games on the
road. Instead, McNair let it slip away with his last error.
   His high pass deflected off the hands of Derrick Mason, and
Robert Geathers made a diving interception that was upheld on
review. Two plays later, Palmer threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to
T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the final lead. Cincinnati made the 2-point
conversion on Rudi Johnson's run.
   The Ravens left town with some concerns about star players.
   Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis got himself in the mood for the
matchup by hopping and waving his arms in the orange-striped end
zone like a heavyweight getting ready for the opening bell.
   He was the first one knocked out of the game.
   On Cincinnati's first pass, Lewis lowered his shoulder and
leveled Houshmandzadeh. The 32-year-old linebacker got up holding
his right arm, and was in the locker room getting treated for an
injured biceps when Chad Johnson pulled off a touchdown celebration
meant partly for him.
   After his 39-yard touchdown catch, the Pro Bowl receiver jogged
to the sideline and pulled out a mock blazer for the "Monday Night
Football" crowd. The back of the foam garb was inscribed: Future
H.O.F. 20?? -- a reference to the Hall of Fame.
   Other than that one play, the points and yards came at a price.
   The Bengals' offensive line was missing three starters at one
point: tackles Willie Anderson and Levi Jones, as well as center
Eric Ghiaciuc. Ravens 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jonathan Ogden
left in the second quarter; he missed most of preseason with a sore
big toe on his left foot.
Notes:  Ray Lewis will have an MRI on his upper arm Tuesday. The
Ravens think it's just a strain. ... TE Daniel Wilcox sprained his
right ankle. ... It was Reed's fifth career touchdown. ... The
Bengals have won five of their last six against Baltimore.

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