Nugent kicks 5 FGs as Bengals beat Ravens 15-10

BY foxsports • September 20, 2010

Cedric Benson had little room to run. Carson Palmer had little time to get rid of the ball. The Cincinnati Bengals became the latest team that played an entire game and failed to get into the end zone.

By most measures, the Baltimore Ravens' defense had another great day. Only one thing went wrong: Mike Nugent could still get his kicks.

Five of them was enough.

Nugent's career-best five field goals led the Bengals to a 15-10 victory Sunday that was familiar in a lot of ways to the AFC North rivals. Cincinnati (1-1) won yet another division game, its eighth straight. Baltimore (1-1) saw another impressive defensive showing wasted.

This has been going on for some time.

''It's always been this way for the past 10 years I've played against them,'' receiver Chad Ochocinco said. ''It's never been a blowout. It's always close. I don't know why the games are always like that. It's extremely frustrating from a skill position set, but I think the linemen and the defense enjoy games like this.

''And the defense really saved us today.''

Don't forget the kicker.

Nugent was released by Tampa Bay early last season after he missed four of his first six kicks. He spent the next two months watching the NFL on television and appreciating what it would mean to get another chance.

''It was something to experience firsthand, sitting on Sundays watching people do a job you want to be in,'' Nugent said. ''You realize there's a lot of people watching on Sundays who want your job.''

The Bengals gave him a chance to compete for the job in training camp. He won it, beating out Dave Rayner. In Cincinnati's home opener, he was perfect from 36, 30, 46, 38 and 25 yards. The last two kicks were set up by big plays - Bernard Scott's 60-yard kickoff return and linebacker Brandon Johnson's interception.

The Ravens haven't allowed a touchdown in their past 10 quarters, including the playoffs, but haven't scored enough points to back it up.

''Everything about it is tough,'' said Joe Flacco, who threw four interceptions and had a minuscule passer rating of 23.8. ''We didn't do enough on the offensive side of the ball to win the game, and we know that. We have to get better.''

It wasn't supposed to happen. The Ravens invested heavily in their passing game in the offseason, bringing in Anquan Boldin and Dante' Stallworth. When Stallworth got hurt, they signed former Bengal T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The goal was to make the passing game get more vertical.

Against Cincinnati, it was nominal.

The Bengals were inspired after their opening 38-24 loss to New England. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer took the blame for that one, saying he overloaded the play book. This time, he simplified things and let the defense shine.

''I wasn't surprised,'' Palmer said. ''I was just happy to see them play that way. There's a lot of talk about Baltimore's defense. Everybody hypes them up, and they're great, but I think our defense took that as a personal challenge, and they outplayed them today.''

Baltimore's defense came away huffing about two disputed calls on Cincinnati scoring drives in the second half.

Ray Lewis got a penalty for tripping after he rolled into Palmer for a sack. Terrell Suggs was called for roughing the passer when he wrapped his arms around Palmer on another attempt at a sack and drove him backward for the tackle as Palmer got rid of the ball.

''There were six points given off (bad) calls,'' Lewis said. ''It's six points. They didn't earn it. You don't come into a lion's den and play nice, man. This is football, and football is getting hit. There's so many rules that take away from the game.''