CINCINNATI -- In their rematch with Cedric Benson, the Ravens' worst-case scenario unfolded during pre-game warm-ups. That's when they decided to sit out defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and hope for the best against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Although Ngata's replacement, Justin Bannan, played well, Benson became just the second back to run for 100-plus yards against the Ravens twice in the same season. The first was Jerome Bettis with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996.
Ngata tested his tender ankle in warm-ups and said he was "pretty close" to playing. "But the coaches decided they didn't want to risk making it worse," he said. "I could have been out longer if I hurt it again."
Coach John Harbaugh said the decision was made "right before the game. We tried to get him in, but he just couldn't play. Of course, we miss him. He's a great player. I thought Justin filled in nicely and played well, but of course, we want Haloti in there if we can."
As it stands, Ngata said he will play next Monday night against the Cleveland Browns.
Benson rushed for 80 yards in the first half (on 18 carries) and finished with 117 and one touchdown. The Bengals ground out 146 yards overall in a 17-7 triumph.
"Benson was very patient back there," said Bannan, who had four tackles. "He finds the crease and hits it. ... As a group, we all need to do better."
After a streak of 39 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, the Ravens have been tattooed three times in four games.
After Fabian Washington limped off the field early in the second quarter with a thigh bruised when he tackled Bengals wide-out Chris Henry, rookie Lardarius Webb took over at left cornerback for the rest of the game.
It was Webb's most extensive playing time this season. And with six tackles, he was one of the few bright spots for the Ravens.
"He played well," Harbaugh said. "He flies around the ball and is a good tackler. He covered well and took advantage of his opportunity due to an injury."
Webb said he was ready for the playing time.
"I knew my time was going to come sooner or later," Webb said. "I study the game, study the receivers, and today my time came."
"He's a great wide receiver," Webb said. "I'm just going out there and really not looking at who it is [lined up across from him].
"I respect him - he's earned my respect. But I still have to go out there and play my ball."
At this time last season, Webb was playing for Football Championship Subdivision Nicholls State (Louisiana), where he was a two-time All-American. His size (5 feet 10, 175 pounds) and playmaking ability on special teams led the Ravens to select him in the third round, the 88th pick overall. Although it has taken him time to earn a spot on defense, he has taken over for Chris Carr as the main kickoff returner, and last week went 95 yards for a touchdown against the Broncos.
On Sunday, he returned four kicks for a 21.3-yard average.
'City deserves it'
Even though his return to Cincinnati wasn't what he had hoped for, Ravens wide receiver Kelley Washington had an appreciation for what Sunday's victory meant to Bengals fans.
"It's good to come back, even though I was booed," said Washington, who played four seasons with the Bengals. "Of course, their crowd is excited they're winning. You've got to tip your cap to them. They're playing good ball in all phases. The crowd deserves it; the whole city deserves it. I enjoyed my four years here, and the city deserves to have a season like this."
Washington also thinks the Ravens' defense deserved better than what their offense gave them on Sunday.
"I know the offense left the defense out there way too long," he said. "The defense did a heck of a job being out there as long as they were out there. We've got to be able to keep them off the field and make some plays, some first downs. The defense was on the field the whole game."
Cincinnati ran 73 offensive plays to the Ravens' 53, and doubled the Ravens' time-of-possession, 40 minutes to 20 minutes.
"We weren't executing," Washington said. "We couldn't run the ball. We couldn't throw the ball. We just had to play catch-up. They were the better team today. That's evident that they were better than us today."
'Just having fun'
Leave it to the incomparable Ochocinco to break fresh ground in the area of sideline antics.
After catching a sideline pass from Carson Palmer midway through the third quarter - which the Ravens challenged - the Bengals wide receiver was seen on the sideline with a dollar bill in his hand while the official reviewed the play.
"You saw that?" Ochocinco said after the game. "I was going to give them a dollar just to bribe them - 'Just give me the call, give me the catch, we need this one.'
"I might get fined. Mr. Goodell, I'm sorry. I'm just having fun."
The Ravens have lost in four of their past five trips to Cincinnati. ... Ravens running back Ray Rice scored a rushing touchdown for the third straight game. ... Running back Willis McGahee didn't have a carry for the first time this season. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron indicated three days ago that McGahee would play two series in the first half. ... Quarterback Joe Flacco threw to wide receiver Derrick Mason 13 times but completed only three passes to him. Mason didn't have his first reception until the first minute of the second half. ... It marked only the second time this season the Ravens' defense gave up a touchdown on the first series. The other was at Minnesota. ... This was the Bengals' first win coming off the bye since 2002. ... The Ravens' inactives were: defensive Ngata (ankle), cornerback Frank Walker, linebacker-defensive end Paul Kruger, running back Jalen Parmele, linebacker Antwan Barnes, offensive tackle Oniel Cousins and guard-tackle Tony Moll. John Beck was the third quarterback. ... The only Cincinnati starter inactive was safety Roy Williams (forearm). ... More than 10 percent of the Ravens' roster was game captains: Kelley Washington, nose tackle Kelly Gregg, safeties Dawan Landry and Haruki Nakamura, wide receiver Mark Clayton, and Rice.