Ravens KO Bengals

BY GEOFF HOBSON

BALTIMORE _ Bengals quarterback Akili Smith suffered a mild concussion on Baltimore's second sack of the game early in the second quarter Sunday and his return was questionable.

Ravens defensive end Rob Burnett burst up the middle and drilled Smith under the chin on a three-step drop pass in the pocket, punctuating the hurting Baltimore put on the Bengals in the game's first 25 minutes in a 17-0 rout in which Baltimore posted 211 yards to the Bengals' one.

With 9:12 left in the first half and former Raven Scott Mitchell in the game for Smith, the Bengals' only first down came by penalty and they already had given up three sacks. The Bengals offensive line was overmatched, with running back Corey Dillon getting no yards on his first five carries.

Even the only bright point was marred after Bengals free safety forced rookie running back Jamal Lewis to fumble and it was picked up by linebacker Steve Foley. Three plays later, Mitchell was intercepted by Baltimore free safety Rod Woodson.

The Bengals dug themselves another hole in the first quarter as the Ravens hogged the ball for all about two minutes of the first quarter to build a 10-0 lead and then forced a crushing turnover when Cincinnati kick returner Tremain Mack fumbled the ball on his own 27.

The Bengals have now been outscored, 27-0, in the first quarter, and the second quarter hasn't been too sweet, either. Two plays after Mack's fumble, Lewis ran over Bengals cornerback Artrell Hawkins for an 11-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.

Hawkins had a tough start as the Ravens converted five of their first six third-down tries, two on third-and-long plays during Baltimore's first touchdown drive.

On a third-and-10, Ravens receivers Qadry Ismail and Jermaine Lewis crossed up the Bengals' secondary on a 26-yard gain. Then rookie receiver Travis Taylor got inside Hawkins on a post route for an eight-yard touchdown pass on third-and-7.

The Ravens exploited the matchup Cincinnati feared most right away on the game's first drive, which consumed 6:22, 11 plays, 50 yards and ended in Matt Stover's 30-yard field goal. Perennial Pro Bowl tight end Shannon Sharpe, working against rookie middle linebacker Armegis Spearman, caught a 12-yarder over the middle. Then, the 230-pound Sharpe shook 210-pound free safety Corey Hall on a third-and-five to catch a 15-yard pass that put the Ravens

The Bengals tried to shake things up even before the game. For the first time, they dressed rookies Danny Farmer and Mark Roman in place of wide receiver Craig Yeast and cornerback Robert Bean.

Yeast, who was fighting a mild calf strain during the week, has been of the most productive Bengals as a third receiver working mainly in the slot. In the first two games he had five catches for 69 yards, including a 25-yard catch.

Roman, the club's second-round draft pick, missed the first 20 days of training camp with a holdout and fell behind Bean, a fifth-round pick.

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