CINCINNATI – Cedric Benson proved that his mastery of the Baltimore Ravens’ usually stingy defense wasn’t a fluke.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ rugged running back grinded out 117 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries during a 17-7 win over the Ravens on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
This marks the second time this year that Benson has eclipsed the century mark against Baltimore after gaining 120 yards during the first meeting to break the Ravens’ 39-game streak of not allowing an opposing rusher to gain 100 yards.
“He did a good job getting through some holes out there,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “He was zigging and zagging and hit some in the backfield and we were able to get some good, clean runs. Ced did a nice job running through some arm tackles.”
During the first half, the Bengals leaned heavily on Benson’s power running.
He gained 80 yards on 18 carries by halftime, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and scoring in the first quarter.
Of course, it didn’t help matters that the Ravens were playing without injured defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
“Technique and physical play,” defensive end Trevor Pryce said. “They are a very physical team, don’t let anybody tell you different.
“They have big, tough, physical guys and their running back is really good. If you come in and not do the things you’re coached to do the right way every play, that’s what happens.”
In two games against Baltimore, Benson has rushed for 237 yards and two touchdowns.
Benson is the first running back since Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams to gain over 100 yards in successive games against Baltimore.
“He’s a good back,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We’ve seen tougher backs to bring down, yes. But he’s having this kind of year where his confidence is really high and he’s performing well. We’ve got to take it for what it’s worth.”
TACKLING ISSUES: The Ravens’ defense isn’t consistently tackling well, especially in the open field.
Free safety Ed Reed missed a tackle on wide receiver Laveranues Coles deep in Ravens territory, also missing at least one more tackle.
“Our tackling hasn’t been that bad,” said Reed, who also forced a fumble when he ripped the ball out of the hands of Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. “We’ve just got to wrap up. You’ve got some guys going for the strip when we should be tackling more.”
The Ravens also had some trouble bringing down Benson, who gained a lot of yards after first contact.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh downplayed the tackling problem.
“I don’t think the tackling is an issue the way you want to make it out to be an issue,” Harbaugh said. “I think we had him (Benson) in the backfield a few times, but he’s a strong back. That’s why he’s leading the league in rushing, because he does a nice job of getting out of tackles.
“But we have strong players that get guys down. Sometimes, when you’re a defensive back alone in space, it’s tough. These guys can make plays. Can we tackle better? Sure. But the issue is not tackling, per se. We’re generally a good tackling team.”
NGATA SIDELINED: Ngata missed the first game of his career due to a sprained right ankle.
He hadn’t missed a start in his previous 55 games since being drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft.
Ngata warmed up prior to the game, but it was regarded as too stiff and sore with Justin Bannan starting in his place.
“The coaches didn’t feel comfortable with it,” Ngata said. “I was ready to go. I didn’t really want to take the chance of making it a worse injury.”
Ngata said he feels confident that he’ll definitely play next week against the Cleveland Browns.
Bannan registered four tackles, one for a loss, in place of Ngata.
“We tried to get him in, but he just couldn’t play,” Harbaugh said of Ngata. “Of course, we miss him. He’s a great player. I thought Justin filled in nicely and played well, but of course we want Haloti in there if we can.”
WASHINGTON INJURED: Cornerback Fabian Washington suffered a thigh contusion during the first half.
Washington said he bruised the side of his leg.
“It hurts,” he said. “I have no clue how long this thing is going to take.”
FINAL WORD: Ochocinco sent the Ravens’ defense gift packages of deodorant days before the game.
And he got the best of the matchup, catching five passes for 66 yards and drawing two defensive pass interference penalties.
“The trash talking, the things I do, it forces me to play at a high level,” Ochocinco said. “A lot of people question it, but it’s the only way I know how to play.
“Talking and going out there and backing it up. I have another gift package, and it’s going out this week to the Steelers.”
During an instant-replay review, Ochocinco was waving around a dollar bill on the sidelines while the officials made their ruling.
“I was going to give them a dollar just to bribe them, just give me the call, give me the catch,” he said. “I might get fined. Mr. [Roger] Goodell, I’m sorry. I’m just having fun.”
WEBB EXCELS: Replacing Washington in his most extended playing time yet, rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb recorded six tackles and one pass deflection.
He was the soundest tackler in the secondary Sunday, driving through the ball carrier with crisp form tackles.
“He played well,” Harbaugh said. “He flies around the ball and is a good tackler. He covered well and took advantage of his opportunity due to an injury.”
QUICK HITS: The Ravens deactivated cornerback Frank Walker for the second week in a row as a healthy scratch. They also deactivated Ngata, running back Jalen Parmele, outside linebacker Antwan Barnes, offensive tackles Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll, quarterback John Beck and outside linebacker-defensive end Paul Kruger. … The Bengals deactivated quarterback Jordan Palmer, safety Roy Williams, fullback Fui Vakapuna, linebacker Dan Skuta, offensive tackle Andre Smith, tight end Chase Coffman, wide receiver Jerome Simpson and defensive tackle Orien Harris. … The Bengals disguised their coverage schemes. “They do a good job that,” Harbaugh said. “They mixed them up on third down, and they have a nice pressure package when they get you to third down, especially third-and-long.” Added quarterback Joe Flacco: “I was seeing it well. They just did a good job of playing.” … Playing against the team that drafted him, wide receiver Kelley Washington caught just one pass for 10 yards. “We left the defense out there too long,” Washington said. “We couldn’t execute.”
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.