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Defense Stingy In Loss


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

Offensively, Sunday's game looked eerily similar to some Baltimore hoped it had left in the past this offseason.

Defensively, however, it was just more of the same. For Baltimore, that's a good thing.

The Ravens' defense kept the game close by forcing Cincinnati to kick five field goals despite being put in several difficult situations due to interceptions.

Baltimore still hasn't allowed a touchdown in its first two games this season.

"Any time you keep the offense out of the red zone, that's tremendous red-zone defense," Harbaugh said. "They had to come onto the field after sudden-change situations. We had a couple of things here and there, but they played pretty good."

Cincinnati rolled up 24 points and 428 yards of total offense against the New England Patriots in Week 1. This week, the Ravens held the Bengals to just 253 total yards of offense and they were 3-of-18 on third down.

The two questions entering the game were whether the Ravens could stop Cincinnati running back Cedric Benson and whether Baltimore's secondary – which held the Jets to just 60 passing yards on Monday night – would be able to repeat that kind of performance against Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

Check and check.

Benson racked up 33 yards on his first five carries, but the Ravens' run defense stiffened from that point on. After racking up more than 100 yards in both games versus Baltimore last year, Benson finished with 78 yards on 23 carries – a 3.4 average.

Baltimore's secondary was perhaps even more impressive. Starting cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Chris Carr recorded three and two pass deflections each, respectively. Nickel cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (who played in his first game after knee surgery), Haruki Nakamura and Josh Wilson were effective in rotation.

The unit held Palmer to 16-of-35 passing for 167 yards, similar numbers to Joe Flacco's.

"I thought [Washington] played really well," Harbaugh said. "I thought he was in position. I thought our guys covered well."

The only difference was that Baltimore didn't record an interception. Safeties Dawan Landry and Tom Zbikowski both had picks bounce off their hands.

The Ravens' defense took the field with the Bengals already on their side of the field four times. Their greatest challenge came in the fourth quarter when Flacco's third interception set Cincinnati up on the 11-yard line and a 2-point lead already.

Haloti Ngata stopped Benson for a 4-yard gain, then stuffed him for no yardage on the next play. Carr made a hard hit to break up a pass to Jordan Shipley on the next play and forced a fifth field goal. That gave the offense one final chance.

But as it was the entire afternoon, Baltimore's defense couldn't do it all.

"There are going to be times when I stand on this podium, and you guys are going to ask me how frustrating it is to be on defense because the offense played so well," linebacker Jarret Johnson said.

"So, 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 are going to stink it up. That's why this is a team game. I thought that today 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."

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