Another strong day running gives McClain a big rush

CINCINNATI — CINCINNATI - Le'Ron McClain was one of the last Ravens players remaining in the visiting locker room at Paul Brown Stadium yesterday partly because he was ready to play some more.

"I'll probably feel it tomorrow, but now I'm pretty hyped," he said with a grin on his face. "The adrenaline is still pumping, man."


For the second consecutive week, McClain, officially listed as a fullback, led the team in rushing. After running for a career-high 88 yards in a 36-7 win over the Philadelphia Eagles the previous Sunday, McClain gained 86 yards on 25 carries in the Ravens' 34-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday.

McClain got the nod for the start at tailback - the first of his NFL career - over Willis McGahee, who was active but did not play for the third time this season. But unlike the other two times, McGahee's absence yesterday was not injury-related.


"It's strategic," coach John Harbaugh said of the decision to keep McGahee on the sideline. "We've got a plan, and we've got a plan for Willis, I guarantee you. And he's going to be a big part in December, no question about it.

"Willis can play, and he will play," Harbaugh said later. "We're going to put him in the best situation to play - just like we are with Le'Ron and [rookie] Ray [Rice]."

Just as he has done in the past, McClain used his 6-foot, 260-pound frame to pummel Cincinnati's defense. He ran for 52 yards on 15 carries in the first half, and McClain said Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson told him McClain was wearing out the tacklers.

McClain said his confidence as a tailback has grown as he keeps getting the ball.

"Before, I was running just not to make mistakes," he said.

"But now, I've gotten a little more comfortable and I'm catching my swagger. I hope to continue to contribute to get this team to the playoffs."

Pick six

Strong safety Jim Leonhard turned his first interception as a Raven into a reason to celebrate.


With 2:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, Leonhard, who had spent the previous three seasons with the Buffalo Bills, intercepted Bengals backup quarterback Jordan Palmer and sprinted 35 yards to the end zone for his first career interception return for a touchdown.

"It was a little bit of a shock," said Leonhard, who collected his first score on an interception return since high school. "We had a blitz coming off that side, and he tried to throw the hot route and the receiver never got there. I was a little shocked that he threw it, but it felt great to get into the end zone."

Returning a winner

Willie Anderson made a triumphant return against the franchise that selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 1996 draft. Anderson - who started at right tackle in place of the injured Adam Terry - helped the offense gain a season-high 451 yards.

"I always wondered where was the visitors' locker room," said Anderson, who was one of three team captains along with safety Ed Reed and fullback Lorenzo Neal. "The whole experience of coming in as a visitor, staying at the Westin hotel and seeing everybody, it was different. But at the same time, the win makes it fun, and competing is always good."

Harbaugh said Terry, who was limited in practice last week, was deactivated because of lingering effects from the concussion he suffered in the victory over the Eagles.


"He was not cleared to go today," Harbaugh said.

Anderson received a Gatorade shower from his new teammates after the Ravens had secured the victory.

Even more special

Who says Brendon Ayanbadejo is just a contributor on special teams?

The linebacker collected the first sack of his career when he tackled Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for a 9-yard loss late in the second quarter after Fitzpatrick bobbled a snap in the shotgun formation.

"My job was to get a jam on the receiver first, but I didn't get a jam," said Ayanbadejo, a six-year veteran and first-year Raven. "I missed both of the guys that came out of the stack. I was like, 'Dang, I missed them both.' But then I saw the quarterback drop the ball, and I was supposed to rush anyways. So it was a freebie."


End zone

Cornerback Frank Walker said he was informed by the coaching staff last Monday that he would be deactivated for yesterday's game. "Just the coaches' decision," said Walker, who started four games this season. "Not upset about it at all." ... Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said he got the short end of the deal when he threw a block at linebacker Ray Lewis, who was chasing Fitzpatrick after the quarterback scrambled out of the pocket in the second quarter. "I was hurt for a while after that," Houshmandzadeh said. "I had a headache." ... When the Ravens went to a three-receiver set, rookie Marcus Smith replaced Yamon Figurs as the third wide receiver. Smith has played in only four games this season. ... Harbaugh improved to 2-2 on challenges when he successfully challenged the officials' ruling that wide receiver Derrick Mason's 8-yard catch was a yard short of the first down in the first quarter. A review reversed the ruling, and an extra yard was tacked on to give the Ravens the first down.