AFC NORTH: A look at the Ravens division after Preseason Week 2

Street Talk AFC NORTH: A look at the Ravens division after Preseason Week 2

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In the Hood presents this update of the second week of the 2009 pre-season in the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens looked forward to seeing former Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan again, but made it evident they can survive without him. Baltimore returned two interceptions for touchdowns, forced two fumbles and had a sack in their 24-23 victory over the New York Jets. Starting for the first time, Jets QB Mark Sanchez handed off the ball on the game’s opening play from scrimmage. Then he forced a pass while being hit in the stomach by middle linebacker Ray Lewis. The ball was intercepted by Haloti Ngata, who rumbled 25 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 52 seconds into the game.

The Jets didn’t get a first down in their opening three series, and Baltimore used a 43-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Derrick Mason to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice for a 14-0 lead. Another Jets punt ensued, and Baltimore moved 62 yards before rookie Graham Gano missed a 46-yard field goal. Gano, who is competing against Steve Hauschka for the starting job, has missed twice in two games. The Ravens attempted half as many passes against the Jets (27) as against Washington (54) in the preseason opener. Baltimore TE L.J. Smith left in the fourth quarter with a hamstring problem.

The Ravens second-team allowed the Jets to get back in the game and the Jets could have won had they been able to convert a 2 point try with only 22 seconds left on the game clock. The second half kick-off return was fumbled by Lardarius Webb and the Jets recovered and scored a TD to close the score to 21-14. Steven Hauschka closed out the scoring for the Ravens with a 42 yard field goal.  

Schedule and Results

8/13   Washington         W   23 – 0

8/24   New York Jets      W   24 – 23

8/29   @ Carolina

9/3     @ Atlanta 

Cincinnati Bengals

There is a new role and another new name for Chad Ochocinco. The emergency kicker and international soccer fan booted the decisive extra point late in the first half as the Cincinnati Bengals beat the sloppy New England Patriots 7-6 on Thursday night in a preseason game." ‘Esteban’ Ochocinco is back, the most interesting footballer in the world," Ochocinco said. "Everyone has to remember, I’ve always said that soccer is my No. 1 sport. I think Ronaldinho would be proud of me right now."

Ochocinco has practiced kicking but had never done it in a preseason or regular-season game in his eight years with the Bengals, the first seven as Chad Johnson. But when kicker Shayne Graham’s groin felt sore during pre-game warm-ups, Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis decided to rest the team’s franchise player and see what Ochocinco could do. He did very well. The Bengals’ career leader in catches and receiving yards powered the ball through the uprights — a task that can be tough if not done regularly.

Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers softly tossed Tom Brady after the NFL’s 2007 MVP threw an incomplete pass on his third snap and landed on his back. On the first play of his second and last series, Brady was flattened by Cincinnati defensive end Robert Geathers, who easily got around New England Tackle Nick Kaczur and dumped Brady on his left side.

Cincinnati scored on J.T. O’Sullivan’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Chris Henry with 1:55 left in the half. Then Ochocinco trotted onto the field and lined up behind holder Kevin Huber. The snap, hold and kick all worked as planned. O’Sullivan started at quarterback for Cincinnati while Carson Palmer sat out with a right ankle injury suffered during a 17-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Bengals’ preseason opener. Palmer doesn’t expect to miss the regular-season opener and could return before then. O’Sullivan completed 10 of 13 passes for 141 yards. Jordan Palmer, Carson’s younger brother, also played for Cincinnati and went 2 of 7 for 45 yards.

Schedule and Results

8/14   @ New Orleans     L 17 – 7

8/20   @ New England    W 7 – 6

8/27   St. Louis

9/3     Indianapolis

Cleveland Browns

Derek Anderson led Cleveland to its first offensive touchdown in seven games – a 4-yard run by Jamal Lewis. Anderson was 3 of 4 for 58 yards on the drive, which began after Cribbs’ 95-yard, game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty. Lions rookie QB Matt Stafford gave the ball right back to Cleveland, throwing an interception on his first pass. He rolled right, locked onto wide receiver Adam Jennings and never noticed Browns cornerback Eric Wright, who picked off the pass and returned it inside the Lions’ 10. Wright, though, was penalized for excessive celebration — he tried to leap into the Dawg Pound — and Cleveland had to settle for Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal.

Joshua Cribbs then made it 17-0 with an electrifying 84-yard punt return. He made four cuts while working his way to the left sideline, eluded linebacker Darnell Bing with a stiff arm near midfield and streaked into the end zone. Dawson’s 34-yard kick gave the Browns a 20-0 lead in the first quarter.

Anderson stayed tight with Brady Quinn in their too-close-to-call quarterback competition. Anderson started with the first team and finished 8 of 13 for 130 yards with one interception. The former Pro Bowler made several strong throws, and, as usual, a few bad ones. Re-inserted by Coach Eric Mangini to run a two-minute drill, Anderson threw his pick in the final seconds of the first half, leading to three points for Detroit. Quinn came in during the second quarter and was sacked on his first play. He went just 3 of 5 for 29 yards. Rookie James Davis added an 81-yard TD run and 116 yards on 12 carries for Cleveland.

Schedule and Results

8/15   @ Green Bay     L 17 – 0

8/22   Detroit               W 27 – 10

8/29   Tennessee

9/3     @ Chicago

Pittsburgh Steelers

Willie Parker had a 3-yard touchdown run for the Steelers, and Pittsburgh’s first-team defense looked in regular season form. With Ben Roethlisberger watching from the sideline — unable to play after a teammate stepped on his Achilles’ tendon during practice — Charlie Batch went 5 for 14 for 63 yards in three series for the Steelers. The drive that led to a touchdown was celebrated with thousands of Terrible Towels, twirled by Pittsburgh fans who again found plenty of prime seats at the Redskins’ stadium. The Terrible Towels were a dominant part of the scene last year when Pittsburgh beat Washington during regular season Monday night game. For this game, the Redskins retaliated by distributing 50,000 "Redskins Rally towels" — resulting in alternating waves of yellow and white throughout the game. The towels also served a practical purpose: Heavy rains fell for much of the first quarter. Pittsburgh’s LG Chris Kemoeatu missed the game with a rib injury, and RB Mewelde Moore remained out with a hamstring injury.

In the Steelers’ locker room there was excitement over a player who didn’t even have his own locker. Stefan Logan, a first-year player from South Dakota who stands maybe 5-foot-6, averaged 39 yards on four kickoff returns and 12 yards on four punt returns. "Coach let me know a few days before the game he was going to give me a shot at kickoff return and punt return," said Logan, whose dressing area consisted of a chair below his number taped to the wall. "I told my mom, I was so excited. I told all my friends. They said when you get the ball, you’re going to make something happen and I know you’re going to make this team because you go at it so hard."

Schedule and Results

8/13   Arizona                   W 20 – 10

8/22   @ Washington       L 17 – 13

8/29   Buffalo

9/3     @ Carolina

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Eric Buckner

About Eric Buckner

Eric Buckner is a native of Baltimore and has lived in the area his entire life. A graduate of Towson University , Eric has been a student of professional football since the day he wept in his grandfather's bedroom after the Baltimore Colts were upset by the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. A loyal fan of the Colts and subsequently the Ravens, Eric's passion for the NFL is unwavering as evidenced by his near flawless attendance record at Ravens' games. He's missed only one preseason game -- back in 2005. We'll cut him some slack since he was on his honeymoon. You won't find Eric slacking when it comes to covering the AFC North for ProFootball24x7.com.   More from Eric Buckner

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