Report Card Bengals 42 Ravens 29

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QUARTERBACK

He’s bumblin’, stumblin’ and fumblin’ and that ladies and gentlemen, is just another day at the park for Kyle Boller.  In the latest episode of Kyle’s Excellent NFL Adventure, our hero had his chance to shine while staking his team to an early 7-0 lead.  Instead, Boller badly overthrew a wide open Derrick Mason.  And that was the good part of Boller’s first half.  Boller finished the half 4 of 12 for 37 yards and an interception for a first half QB rating of 8.0.  The Ravens first 9 drives produced 40 plays that averaged just over 2 yards; five drives ended with a punt, two by interception, one by fumble and another ended after a failed Aaron Elling 56 yard field goal attempt to end the first half.  The score after all that “offense” – 34-0.

The comeback was nice, but let’s just see it for what it was – too little too late.  Bombs away against a vanilla prevent defense with a team rushing only 3 or 4 defenders isn’t quite the same as productivity against an attacking defense.  Some of you might recall those old cartoons and those desert mirages with the bountiful oasis.  That’s exactly what Boller’s final 20 minutes boils down – a mirage.  Don’t get too excited.  Boller’s performance was largely responsible for the insurmountable deficit. 

Let the adventure continue….at least for the balance of 2005.

RUNNING BACK

Ah yes, the mysterious ankle injury to Chester Taylor which comes on the heels of that flu bug, skipped practices for personal reasons and a fight with Orlando Brown.  Eventually he was punished like a fifth grader and relegated to special teams against the Jaguars.  One Winning Way should become the setting for the Days of Our Lives.  Instead of “Where’s Waldo?” let’s play “Where’s Chester?”  Answer: It won’t be in Baltimore next season.

That aside, Jamal Lewis seemed inspired by the absence of Chester Taylor and ran the ball with passion and determination not seen from Jamal since 2003.  He was decisive and he attacked the line of scrimmage and would be tacklers.  Imagine what he might do if he played with a quarterback who opponents actually had to respect?

RECEIVERS 1/2

Each of Boller’s second half touchdown passes, were finished off with outstanding plays by the intended receivers, if only they were more meaningful catches.  Derrick Mason did drop a pass trying to run before he cradled the ball in and Mark Clayton seems to be struggling while adjusting to the long ball in flight.  Heap was very solid although it’s difficult to understand why he wasn’t involved much earlier in the game.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Mulitalo blocked people sometimes although white is not a good color for Edwin.  It’s time to introduce him to Jenny Craig.  Pashos and Rimpf thought about blocking people; Ogden blocked everyone and Flynn gave it some consideration but instead opted to be Mulitalo’s helper and double teamed defenders in lieu of picking up linebackers blitzing up the middle.  Odell Thurman hit Boller once before he could even hand off to Jamal Lewis forcing a fumble.  How much justification do the Ravens need to give Adam Terry and Jason Brown playing time?  How embarrassing is it that a 3-8 team can’t get its second round pick and its fourth round pick on the field?  This can’t be too pleasing to Ozzie and Eric DeCosta.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Did they make the trip?  I wasn’t even sure if Terrell Suggs was active until he tackled Rudi Johnson for a 1 yard loss at the 5 minute mark of the second quarter.  Kemoeatu was a virtual non-factor.  Jarret Johnson was active while Anthony Weaver followed up a brilliant game against the Steelers with an at best so-so game yesterday. 

LINEBACKERS

Yesterday’s performance by this unit was uninspired and devoid of the passion that characterized previous weeks.  When the Ravens front seven struggles or lacks its usual intensity the suspect secondary pays the price.  And yesterday it did exactly that.

SECONDARY

The only members of this unit that seemed to want to play were Deion Sanders and Samari Rolle.  Sanders continues to struggle in the middle of the field but no one can question his effort.  Rolle competed but struggled at times with Houshmandzadeh’s physicality.  Will Demps, Chad Williams, Chris McAlister, B.J. Ward, Dale Carter and Zach Norton all played like they had better things to do as evidenced by the poor tackling and overall uninspired play. 

Hey, I wonder if Darrell Green and Rod Woodson are available?  Did someone say DeRon Jenkins?

SPECIAL TEAMS

While watching the game, I often thought that the Ravens best chance to score was on a B.J. Sams return.  Sams is better at punt returns than kick returns but each time he touches the ball, he seemingly serves up the Ravens best big play threat.  The punt coverage unit was solid and Zastudil was equally as effective particularly in light of the unfavorable conditions.  The kickoff coverage team was relatively ineffective, allowing 28.5 yards per kickoff return.  Aaron Elling has no business being on the team.  One of his five kicks managed to make it to the end zone.  One kickoff was of the onsides variety but the other 3 managed to make it on average to just shy of the 9 yard line.  Kickoff specialists have to be a lot less pedestrian than that.

COACHING

* Not involving Todd Heap early on after the Colts demonstrated the previous week that the Bengals can’t cover tight ends was a big mistake.  The Colts’ Dallas Clark had 5 catches for 109 yards and a TD against the Bengals last week by halftime.  Todd Heap’s first catch didn’t occur until 5 minutes left in the first half.

* On the defensive side, the Ravens did nothing to attack Carson Palmer.  He left the field with a uniform as clean as the one he started the game with.  Perhaps Rex Ryan didn’t blitz often knowing that his depleted secondary couldn’t hold up their end.  Nevertheless, the Ravens did little if anything to try and disrupt Palmer’s rhythm.

* Penalties again reared their ugly heads in numbers which has been a ongoing indictment of the Ravens’ discipline or lack thereof.  Just 32:30 into the game, the Ravens had 8 penalties for 81 yards and they were on the short end of a 24-0 score.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW

* Anyone notice Kyle Boller’s expression as the teams prepared to open up the second half?  If I could have captioned it, it would have read “Which way did he go?”

* Kyle Boller’s razor must have resembled his second read this week.  He couldn’t find it.

* If Ray Lewis and Ed Reed can jump around on the sidelines, why not on the field? 

* What is Brian Billick selling this week?  Well, let’s see:

On Kyle Boller’s performance: "Like the team, you can’t make mistakes like that in the first half, but it was the way he responded.  He grew individually, and we grew as a team. It’s hard to understand that given the fact that we lost and looked so bad to start. But where we came from that point, I’m encouraged."

So it’s ok to have your butt handed to you as long as there are moral victories however slight they may be. 

On the team’s effort:  "I could not ask more than the way our guys responded to the circumstances.  It was a loss, make no mistake – are we clear on that?”

Crystal coach. 

Billick added:  “I’m not making excuses. It’s a loss, and a loss in the NFL costs you.  I’m talking about a team emotionally that’s fighting through its circumstances and I couldn’t be prouder about what they did."

Prouder of what they did?  Is there any wonder why the Ravens lack discipline? 

* The spin doctoring is contagious and it has found it’s way into the mind of one of the Ravens’ leaders, Adalius Thomas:  "We played our best football for about 15 minutes and it showed.” 

Maybe we should shorten the games?

* At the end of the day if you seek solace in moral victories, more than likely you were a loser.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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