RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Ravens’ secondary contains Bengals’ receivers

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Ravens’ secondary contains Bengals’ receivers

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CINCINNATI – The Baltimore Ravens’ secondary applied tight coverage, clamping down on the Cincinnati Bengals’ dynamic duo of wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

During a 15-10 loss Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Ravens limited the Bengals to 167 passing yards and no touchdowns as kicker Mike Nugent booted five field goals.

“We played pretty solid,” cornerback Chris Carr said. “Overall, I think we had an excellent performance as a secondary. The predicaments we were put in were difficult and we held them to field goals. We did a good job.”

Ochocinco and Owens were targeted a combined 20 times by quarterback Carson Palmer, and they generated a total of just nine receptions for 101 yards with no scores.

“I think we had a great scheme going into this game,” cornerback Fabian Washington said. “Man, that’ s a hard day’s work  guarding those guys. They’re two of the best to ever do it.”

It was a particularly strong game for Washington, who didn’t allow a catch last week.

Washington tore his anterior cruciate ligament last November, but has made a remarkable recovery.

“I thought he played really well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I thought he was in position. I thought our guys covered well.”

One week after holding New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez to 74 passing yards, the Ravens made it tough on Palmer.

The former Pro Bowl quarterback completed 16 of 35 passes for 167 yards for a 60.1 passer rating.

“I think we’re getting better every week,” safety Tom Zbikowski said. “Obviously, they passed a lot more than the Jets. Anytime you hold guys like Ochocinco, that’s his 700th reception, then you’re doing something right.

“Obviously, that was a very, very good quarterback. I think it was a good game for us.”

It could have been an even better showing.

Both Zbikowski and Dawan Landry dropped potential interceptions.

Zbikowski’s drop was off a ricochet and would have required a quicker reaction to haul it in.

“I get that one next time,” Zbikowski said. “I saw it coming. It went right off his hands.”

Landry tried to snare a pass thrown behind Owens.

“I saw it and the ball was thrown behind me,” Landry said. “I thought I could have caught it. We have to make those plays. That could have changed the game.”

NOT ENOUGH RICE: The Ravens didn’t use Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice nearly enough.

He rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries while quarterback Joe Flacco was intercepted four times on 39 passes with only one touchdown.

"The key to keeping Flacco without any rhythm is keeping No. 27 hemmed in," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "We’re not going to pat ourselves on the back much, it was a hard-fought football game and we came out ahead."

WEBB DEBUT: Cornerback Lardarius Webb played for the first time since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last December against the Chicago Bears.

The knee and Webb both appeared to hold up fine.

“It was great to get back out get the feeling of a game,” said Webb, who was held out of the season opener as a precautionary measure. “I just didn’t like the ending of the game. I played pretty well.”

There were a few subtle signs of rust from the former third-round draft pick.

“I thought he played well,” Harbaugh said. “From what I could see on the field, it looked like he was in pretty good position. They beat him on one out route. He was anticipating an in route. All in all, I think he did well.”  

Webb started as a rookie and displayed signs of emerging as the Ravens’ top cover cornerback.

Now, he’s working his way back into his old form.

“I did all right,” Webb said. “I’m not going to say, ‘I did this and that.’ I had an OK game, working my way back into the groove of things. It was OK.”

GOODEN INJURED: Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden suffered a left shoulder injury, the most serious ailment for the Ravens.

He was in a sling after the game and is scheduled to get a magnetic resonance imaging exam today. Gooden got hurt in the second quarter while covering a Bengals punt return.

“I just landed funny,” Gooden said. “It’s a little shoulder deal. Right now, I don’t know what it is. I’m just praying. That’s all I can do.”

Meanwhile, running back Ray Rice tweaked his ankle in the fourth quarter.

It’s not believed to be serious since Rice returned to the game.

DISAPPOINTING RETURN: It was a frustrating homecoming for Ravens wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who returned to Cincinnati after playing eight years here.

Houshmandzadeh didn’t catch a pass, though, despite being thrown to six times.

“I thought we should have won,” he said. “If I do my part, we win. Every ball that was thrown my way with the exception of the one in the end zone, I should have made the play. Even if I make two of them, it’s a different game.

“I normally make those plays, and I didn’t. We turned the ball over. If you make those plays I’m referring to, things are different. You give yourself more opportunities. I got to make those. Normally, I do.”

Houshmandzadeh was involved in a few jump-ball situations, but didn’t come down with them. He was also overthrown by Joe Flacco on a post route.

“That’s what I think I do well is go up and get the ball,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I didn’t do it so well this time. I think everybody that played a skill position made a play except for me. I got a lot of work to do.”

Houshmandzadeh said he believes the fans were saying, “Housh!” instead of booing him.

“I thought for the most part they were cool,” said Houshmandzadeh, who was named to the Pro Bowl in 2007 when he was on the Bengals’ roster. “I don’t think they booed me. I think they said my name. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

“It’s kind of cool that they appreciate what I did when I was here. I would like to show them some things why they appreciated me.”

REBOUNDING: One week after a gaffe against the Jets that endangered his status as the Ravens’ punt returner, Zbikowski bounced back with a solid game.

He returned five punts for 31 yards, including a 20-yard return.

Against the Jets, Zbikowski was nearly tackled for a safety when he retreated to field a punt near the Ravens’ goal line and ran laterally.

“It felt good,” Zbikowski said. “I just had to shake the rust off. It happens, and I wanted to shake the rust off. I wanted to hit it up north.”

QUICK HITS: Reserve cornerback Josh Wilson saw his most extensive playing time on defense since being acquired in a trade from the Seattle Seahawks prior to the start of the regular season. “It was straight,” said the former University of Maryland standout. “I’m not a rookie out there. It’s football.” … Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson started despite a back injury that kept him out of practice for two days. Johnson has an impressive durability streak, not missing a game in seven years. The last game he missed was Dec. 21, 2003. Johnson didn’t point any fingers at the offense. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “There are going to be times when you guys are going to ask me how frustrating it is to be on defense because the offense played so well. There are going to be times when the roles are going to be reversed. The offense is going to have a great game and we’re going to stink it up. That’s  why this is a team game. I thought that it was a frustrating game, but it doesn’t break us. We still have a lot of talent, and we have a long way to go.” … The Ravens deactivated wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth (broken left foot), cornerback Prince Miller, linebacker Jason Phillips, defensive tackles Lamar Divens and Arthur Jones, defensive end Paul Kruger (left shoulder), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (thoracic disc injury) and nose guard Terrence Cody (torn left meniscus). Cody underwent arthroscopic surgery a few weeks ago. He’s confident that he’ll play next week against the Cleveland Browns. “We’re being safe with it to give me another week to work on it and get better,” Cody said. “I felt good practicing this week. I’m just coming off the injury and doing contact and stuff. It’s working to get back out there. It’s just staying safe right now, but I’ll be out there soon.”… The Bengals deactivated third quarterback Dan LeFevour, cornerback Brandon Ghee (head), fullback Brian Leonard (foot), linebacker Keith Rivers (foot), defensive ends Jonathan Fanene (hamstring) and Carlos Dunlap, center Reggie Stephens and wide receiver Jerome Simpson. The Ravens’ game captains were Gooden, Houshmandzadeh and Terrell Suggs. … The Ravens allowed a 60-yard kickoff return to Bernard Scott. What happened? “I need to see the tape,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, we didn’t do a very good job of squeezing and getting in front of him. I thought it looked like we were there, but we didn’t squeeze him and make a play. We need to get there quicker. We need to get there fast and get in front of a faster target. I didn’t think we squeezed fast enough.”


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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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