- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 23, 2001

OWINGS MILLS, Md. The Cincinnati Bengals are convinced the Baltimore Ravens don't respect them.
"For whatever reason, I don't know, but they must be insane thinking that we don't belong on the same field," Bengals middle linebacker Takeo Spikes said. "We're 1-0 this season against them. Let's wake up around here. All the pressure is on them."
Indeed it is. Ravens coach Brian Billick said earlier in the week that the Ravens (8-5) are in control of their playoff destiny. However, a loss today to the Bengals (4-9) at PSINet Stadium would be disastrous for the Ravens' chances.
"The biggest thing is that we've got to prove to ourselves what kind of team are we. Are we going to be a team that is consistently up and down, or are we finally going to make up our minds and play like some real football players?" Ravens running back Terry Allen said. "This team beat us one time this year. They can beat us again."
The Ravens better not take the Bengals lightly. In Week 2 at Cincinnati, the Ravens littered the Paul Brown Stadium field with six turnovers and the Bengals walked away with a 21-10 victory.
In that game, Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac attempted a team-record 63 passes and was intercepted three times, including one that was returned 66 yards for a touchdown by Spikes with 6:04 left.
The Ravens are 1-4 in games against the Bengals when they are forced to throw 40 times or more. With an almost nonexistent running game, the Ravens must rely on Grbac's arm to win.
"They really have nothing to lose. They just want to knock us off," Grbac said. "I remember [the first meeting], there's no doubt about that. I'm not going to forget that. I think we had six turnovers and still had a chance to win it, but if we eliminate [turnovers] and execute better offensively, I think we'll be fine."
The Bengals have lost six straight despite opening the season 2-0. The Ravens are coming off a humbling 26-21 home loss to the AFC Central champion Pittsburgh Steelers on national TV.
Last Sunday the Ravens certainly didn't look like a playoff team. Their record-setting defense from a year ago allowed the Steelers to roll up 476 yards of offense. The Steelers held the ball for 41:05 and punished the Ravens for an average gain of 6.5 yards a play.
Granted, the Bengals don't possess all the weapons the Steelers have, but Cincinnati is capable of scoring. Bengals running back Corey Dillon, a tantalizing combination of speed and power, already has rushed for 1,010 yards on 273 carries, becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to top 1,000 yards in each of his first five seasons.
Dillon plays into the Ravens' strength. The Ravens have not allowed an opposing running back to gain 100 yards in 50 consecutive games the NFL's longest current streak. The Bengals are aware of that, but it doesn't mean they are going to abandon Dillon.
It's possible, however, that Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna will start firing passes right away. With quality wide receivers Darnay Scott (40 catches for 534 yards and two touchdowns) and Peter Warrick (54 catches for 518 yards and one touchdown) and the Ravens secondary in shambles one week after Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart sliced it apart for 333 yards, the Bengals probably will attempt to repeat the Steelers' feat.
"We left Pittsburgh on the field at PSINet, and we're looking toward Cincinnati," Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister said.

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