- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2000


BALTIMORE The Baltimore Ravens have shut out two of their four opponents this season.
Some critics might have believed the Ravens defense suddenly discombobulated after it allowed 19 points during the remnants of Hurricane Gordon in last week's loss in Miami. Scoring 19 points doesn't win many games in the NFL, but it did on a stormy night.
Ask the Cincinnati Bengals, following Baltimore's 37-0 victory yesterday in an AFC Central game before 68,481 at PSINet Stadium, how porous the Ravens defense was one week removed from Baltimore's first loss of the season.
The Ravens defense set two team records in holding the Bengals to just four yards rushing and 94 total yards. The Ravens knocked Bengals quarterback Akili Smith out of the game. Corey Dillon, the Bengals' star back, was held to just four yards rushing. The deepest penetration into Ravens territory was to the 34 in a meaningless fourth quarter.
Ravens rookie running back Jamal Lewis gained 116 yards on 25 carries as Baltimore blasted the Bengals.
The 37-point win was the largest margin of victory in team history. The shutout was the Ravens' second of the season and the third in their last six games. Baltimore (3-1) has shut out the Bengals in two consecutive games, outscoring Cincinnati 59-0. With the shutout, the Bengals became the first team since the 1945 Chicago Cardinals to score seven points or less in their first three games.
"Lot of rhetoric during the week about this test and that test and how you handle this situation and that situation," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Obviously, we passed the test. Four yards rushing and 94 yards of total offense? That's pretty decent."
The Ravens whipped the Bengals in every phase of the game. By the time the Bengals (0-3) ran their fifth play from scrimmage, the Ravens owned a 17-0 lead.
The Ravens wanted to establish the run and they did with Lewis and Priest Holmes, who gained 51 yards on eight carries in a reserve role. Lewis' first career touchdown early in the second quarter made it 17-0.
With the ball on the Bengals 11-yard line, Lewis went left behind Pro Bowl left tackle Jonathan Ogden and left guard Edwin Mulitalo. On the way to the end zone, Lewis bowled over cornerback Artrell Hawkins and broke an attempted tackle from Bengals linebacker Takeo Spikes.
"I just wanted to get in the end zone," said Lewis, who was the fifth overall pick in last April's draft. "The linemen did their part all day, blocked well. That was our main emphasis this week. We wanted to pound the ball. It was a play we worked on in practice, and it went just like it happened in practice."
Besides the Ravens running game, the Ravens' passing game was impressive. Seven Ravens receivers caught at least two passes from quarterback Tony Banks. Banks completed 20 of 36 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Banks hit rookie wide receiver Travis Taylor in the first quarter on an 8-yard pass over the middle for a 10-0 lead. Leading 17-0, Banks found tight end Shannon Sharpe on a 1-yard toss at the end line that made it 24-0 in the second quarter. Sharpe led all Ravens receivers with five receptions for 40 yards.
"If I don't catch but one pass all game, just let it be early so I can feel like I'm part of the offense," Sharpe said. "[Owner Art Modell] pays me an honest salary so let me give him an honest day's work. The first three games I really don't think I was giving him an honest day's work. I can still play this game at very high level."
The Ravens offense outgained the Bengals 391 yards to 94. Third down efficiency, an area of concern for the Ravens after the first three games, solved itself when the Ravens converted 12 of 17 third-down opportunities (71 percent). The Ravens offense averaged 5.1 yards a play and their defense limited the Bengals to 2.1 yards per play.
Ravens kicker Matt Stover made field goals from 19, 30 and 37 yards and the Bengals turned the ball over four times, which the Ravens converted into two touchdowns.
In perhaps the shortest postgame news conference in recent memory maybe 10 seconds Bengals coach Bruce Coslet summed up the afternoon.
"You saw the game," Coslet said. "Congratulations to the Ravens. They played a heck of a football game and we didn't play very well at all. I'll just leave it at that."

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