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PAGING WILLIS MCGAHEE

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Willis McGahee hardly broke a sweat primarily because he wasn't asked to do so.

The running back who leads the NFL in touchdowns with seven was used sparingly in the Ravens' shocking 17-14 loss Sunday to the visiting Cincinnati Bengals at M&T; Bank Stadium.

McGahee carried the football just once for a loss of 2 yards and caught one pass for 4 yards. Asked whether he was surprised about his lack of activity, McGahee replied diplomatically: "I'm content with what's going on. I've got nothing to complain about."

But when pressed on the issue, McGahee acknowledged being a little confused about his role with the offense.

"I don't know what's going on," he said. "I was only in there for a little bit. You would think it would have been better than that, but it is what it is."

McGahee was quick to point out that Ray Rice's performance might have factored in the coaches' decisions. Against Cincinnati, Rice rushed for 69 yards on 14 carries and caught seven passes for a career-high 74 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown.

"He had the hot hand, so there really was no need to take him out," McGahee said. "He was doing a good job."

Still, the Ravens won their first three games of the season by mixing McGahee and Rice. In the team's victories, McGahee touched the ball 38 times for a combined 231 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns. In the Ravens' past two games - both losses - McGahee has gotten eight touches for 26 yards and one score.

McGahee said he didn't have an answer for the decrease in playing time. "You'll have to talk to [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] on that," he said.

Benson ends Ravens' streak

Adding insult upon insult, the Bengals' Cedric Benson became the first player in 40 games to rush for 100 yards against the Ravens.

Benson, who finished with 120 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, became the first running back to hit the century mark against the defense since the Kansas City Chiefs' Larry Johnson posted 120 yards on Dec. 10, 2006. (The Minnesota Vikings own the longest current streak: 28 contests without allowing a 100-yard rusher.)

"It definitely [stinks], especially for us as a D-line," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "We take a lot of pride in it. It definitely stings a lot that he got a bunch of yards on us. We've got to fix it as a D-line."

Benson exceeded 100 yards with a 28-yard scamper off left tackle into the end zone with 52 seconds left in the third quarter. Linebacker Antwan Barnes had a chance to stop Benson behind the line of scrimmage, but Benson slipped out of his grasp and ran into the end zone untouched.

"What an awesome accomplishment against a well-established and tough defense in our AFC division," said Benson, who had four runs of at least 10 yards. "It's hard for me to put into words how wonderful a feeling it is and how tremendous an accomplishment it is for me personally."

Oher looks good on left side

Rookie Michael Oher earned his first career start at left offensive tackle after the Ravens deactivated Jared Gaither for Sunday's game.

Gaither did not practice last week after suffering a scary neck injury in the second quarter of last Sunday's 27-21 loss to the New England Patriots, but he had been listed as questionable.

Oher, the team's first-round pick in April's draft, did not surrender a sack to Cincinnati defensive end Antwan Odom, who entered the game tied with Denver Broncos linebacker Elvis Dumervil for the NFL lead with eight sacks.

"It was a little different, but you've got to move on and play," Oher said. "I feel I was prepared. I didn't give up any sacks, so I think I did OK."

Oher, who has started the first four games of his NFL career at right tackle, moved to the left side, while Marshal Yanda filled Oher's usual spot. Yanda hasn't started at right tackle since Dec. 30, 2007, and made his first start since a year ago today, when he tore the anterior cruciate, medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Ravens also scratched linebacker Prescott Burgess, offensive tackle Oniel Cousins, defensive tackle Kelly Talavou, running back Jalen Parmele, tight end Tony Curtis and rookie linebacker-defensive end Paul Kruger . John Beck was the third quarterback.

'I've never seen that'

Trevor Pryce was on the receiving end of an unusual penalty.

The defensive end was flagged for illegal formation as officials ruled that Pryce's helmet was lined up over Bengals long snapper Brad St. Louis. The penalty negated a botched extra-point attempt by St. Louis, who launched the football over the head of holder Kevin Huber. Cincinnati was allowed to repeat the play and converted the extra point.

"I lined up outside, and we were all kind of bunched in together," Pryce said. "I've got broad shoulders or whatever. But I've never seen that. I've never gotten that penalty before."

Et cetera

Tight end Edgar Jones suffered the lone injury of note for the Ravens. His hamstring injury is not seen as serious. ... Lardarius Webb's debut as the primary kick returner was a quiet one as he returned just one kickoff for 43 yards. Chris Carr, who surrendered that role after fumbling the opening kickoff in last Sunday's 27-21 loss to the Patriots, returned two kickoffs for 42 yards. ... The Bengals played without starting defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who was deactivated because of plantar fasciitis in his foot. Pat Sims started for Johnson, and Evan Mathis started at left guard for Nate Livings. Cincinnati also scratched offensive tackles Scott Kooistra and rookie Andre Smith, tight end Chase Coffman, linebacker Rashad Jeanty, safety Tom Nelson and wide receiver Jerome Simpson. Jordan Palmer was the third quarterback. ... Ngata, Jones and left guard Ben Grubbs represented the Ravens for the pre-game coin toss.

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