McNair struggles again
Steve McNair was replaced by Kyle Boller in the fourth quarter after another sloppy effort. He lost two fumbles and was intercepted once, failing to generate any points against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that had allowed 30.5 points a game. In McNair's past 35 drives, he has led the Ravens to one touchdown.
Even though Cincinnati came in with the 31st-ranked defense, the Ravens' offense could not get going. Here's how the Ravens' statistics compared with the Bengals' season averages:
Ravens, Bengals' season avg.
Yards rushing: 66, 143.5
Yards passing: 206, 253.5
Total yards: 272, 397.1
Third-down efficiency: 30%, 45.5%
Points: 7, 30.5
The Ravens didn't give up a touchdown, an admirable job for a defense playing most of the game without its top three cornerbacks. The Ravens' pass defense, which was left with cornerbacks Derrick Martin, Ronnie Prude and Willie Gaston (who was just signed from the practice squad), allowed 271 passing yards.
McNair led the Ravens down the field in an efficient, no-huddle offense in the final two minutes of the first half, completing six of seven passes for 60 yards to move them to the Cincinnati 2-yard line. But on third down, safety Dexter Jackson broke up McNair's lob to Todd Heap in the back of the end zone, and cornerback Leon Hall intercepted the tipped pass.
Grim playoff picture
The Ravens' fourth loss in the AFC North dropped them three games behind the division-leading Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2). The Ravens (4-5) have never reached the playoffs when having a losing record after nine games.
The Ravens play their second straight AFC North game at home when they face the Cleveland Browns (5-4), who lost at the Steelers, 31-28, yesterday after leading for most of the game. Former Ravens quarterback Derek Anderson leads an electric Browns passing attack with 20 touchdown throws this season.
"I don't know. That's up to the coaches. Right now, the last two games, my turnovers have been killing this football team. If they decide to go with Kyle, that's fine [and] I'm backing him up. I probably would agree with them." -- Steve McNair, on whether he will be the starter Sunday.
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