- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
BALTIMORE, Md. -- We have an AFC North brawl going between the Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. Baltimore leads 10-3 at the break.
Here are some notes and observations.
Baltimore rookie quarterback Joe Flacco is doing just enough in the first half to give his team a chance to win. He's completed 6-of-16 passes for 45 yards but is managing the offense with no turnovers. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is calling basic, quick-hitting routes for Flacco. It's a smart call, because it's also keeping the Bengals from blitzing the rookie.
The Bengals' offense looked out of synch early, perhaps because of the amount of playing time key players like Chad Ocho Cinco (shoulder) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hamstring) missed in the preseason. Receivers aren't getting open and the Ravens are pressuring and making quarterback Carson Palmer look uncomfortable in the pocket. Palmer already has a pick thrown to Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister. There were also two timeouts used in the first half because of crowd noise and a delay of game.
Baltimore safety Ed Reed (neck) and tailback Willis McGahee (knee) surprised many by giving it a go today. McGahee is dressed but doesn't have a carry. Reed had a key pass breakup near Houshmandzadeh that resulted in McAlister's interception.
Chris Perry is finding a hard time running against Baltimore's defense because the Bengals are not winning early at the line of scrimmage. He has 29 yards on 13 carries and a fumble when he was stripped by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. The Ravens haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 19 straight games.
Bengals backup cornerback David Jones suffered a blow to the head on special teams in the second quarter. His return is questionable.