Baltimore NT Halotia Ngata vs. Cincinnati C Kyle Cook
The longtime rivals get to renew acquaintances today for the first time in 23 months.
Cook did not play in either game against Baltimore year. He was on short-term Injured Reserve for the season opener, and he was one of many starters from teams who took the day off in the season finale as both teams had playoff berths clinched and seedings secured.
Ngata, a 6-foot-4, 335-pounder who has been to four consecutive Pro Bowls, took full advantage of Cook’s absence in the season opener, recording 1.5 sacks and another tackle for loss. When Cook has played against the Ravens, Ngata has never recorded a sack.
And while he only has 1.5 so far in 2013, the Ravens have plenty of other strong rushers, and if the Bengals pay too much attention to the edge rush, Ngata could be a factor inside.
“They’ve got 27 sacks this year, so they’re getting after the quarterback,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’ve got to protect our doggone quarterback.”
Cook will be especially valuable in getting the Bengals set in the right protections amid the always loud crowd noise at M&T Bank Stadium.
“That’s part of the game I like,” Cook said. “I like that chess match thing. I like seeing the defense and putting everybody where they’re supposed to be. I enjoy that part of the game. It doesn’t matter what position you play, football’s a physical game. You’ve got to enjoy that. But I also enjoy that game.”