Halftime observations

As if things couldn't get any worse for the Ravens' secondary, the unit lost cornerback Corey Ivy late in the first quarter due to a concussion he suffered when his helmet hit Bengals guard Bobbie Williams' left knee during a fumble recovery.

So with the secondary already playing without Chris McAlister (strained knee), Samari Rolle (illness) and David Pittman (concussion), Derrick Martin and Ronnie Prude were the corners with Willie Gaston – a rookie who had been on the practice squad until today – entering the contest as the fifth defensive back in the nickel package.


Hence, the reason why Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer has completed 11 of 17 passes for 184 yards.

Other notes:


* You knew it would happen, but it was somewhat surprising to hear the chants for backup Kyle Boller begin midway through the second quarter. Then again, starter Steve McNair (196.2 passing yards per game, two touchdowns and six interceptions in last seven starts) hasn't done anything to convince the Ravens faithful otherwise. It'll be interesting to see if coach Brian Billick heard the chants.

* I don't think you can blame McNair or tight end Todd Heap on the botched pass in the end zone that practically ended the first half. McNair alley-ooped it to Heap, who – at 6 feet, 5 inches – is five inches taller than Bengals safety Dexter Jackson and got his hands on the ball. It was simply a nice play by Jackson to tip the ball and keep it alive until rookie cornerback Leon Hall hauled in the interception in the end zone.

* Willis McGahee has been gashing the Bengals' rush defense to the tune of 54 yards on 12 carries (a 4.5-yard average). He should touch the ball a lot more in the second half, but don't be surprised if the offense throws more because of the six-point deficit at halftime.

* There's only one explanation for Billick electing to go for it on fourth down-and-8 from Cincinnati's 32-yard line late in the first quarter. Matt Stover must've told Billick that attempting a 49- or 50-yard field goal was not a sure thing, and that likely convinced him to go for the first down. Why McNair took a shot with Demetrius Williams in the end zone rather than going for the first down is another question.

* Second-year man Chris Chester was in at right guard instead of rookie Ben Grubbs, and Devard Darling was the third receiver instead of Demetrius Williams midway through the second quarter. It's unclear whether that's an indication of the coaching staff's displeasure with Grubbs and Williams or if the staff wanted to give the Bengals a different look.

* Kenny Watson appears to be more of a threat in the backfield for Cincinnati than Rudi Johnson. Watson, who has gained 13 yards on four rushes, is shiftier and cuts back better than Johnson, who has been limited to zero yards on six carries.