Ravens clinch third straight playoff berth with 38-3 win over Bengals
The Baltimore Ravens ended the 2020 regular season with a dominant 38-3 statement win over the Cincinnati Bengals. It marked their fifth straight victory to finish the year 11-5 and officially punched their ticket to the postseason for the third straight year.
The Ravens used a historic rushing performance from the offense and a suffocating defense to overwhelm their AFC North division rivals.
Baltimore rushed for 404 yards on Sunday which was not only a franchise single-game record but it was the fifth most in a single game in league history.
The win marked a second straight year in which the Ravens swept the Bengals and the defense yielded just six points combined in both of the 2020 regular-season meetings that came via a pair of field goals.
While Baltimore didn’t record the same season-high seven sack outing they had in Week Five, they held Cincinnati to fewer total yards this time around (195 from 205) and limited their passing game that had shown signs of life and promise in recent weeks to a season-low 48 yards.
The way the first quarter went down was a microcosm of how the whole game would unfold for the Ravens, they dominated time of possession and outgained the Bengals 157-4 yards. They built up a 10-0 lead on their first two drives and never looked back.
Cincinnati shows some signs of life with their best offensive and only scoring drive of the day near the end of the second quarter and cut the Ravens lead to two possession heading into halftime.
However, Baltimore used an explosive third quarter to put the game out of reach for good with the final nail in the coffin being the 72-yard touchdown run that rookie running back J.K. Dobbins ripped off to put his team up by 35 points with a whole quarter left to play.
“We’ve been waiting on a big, long touchdown run,” Dobbins said. “It was excellent blocking. A lot of people don’t think I can run. I finally got an opportunity to show my speed. You give me an opportunity to go, I go. I won’t get caught. That was going through my mind. When I got to that sideline, I was like, I am not getting caught.”
Even though the Ravens didn’t score a point and punted twice in the fourth quarter, they still owned time of possession, outgained the Bengals with undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley under center for the entire final period and the defense completed a second-half shutout.
It was a historic day for the offense as a whole but the Ravens two most dangerous weapons made some team and league history as well.
Dobbins’ two touchdowns not only marked his sixth straight game with a score but it also broke a franchise record for touchdowns scored by a rookie in a single season with nine on the year, all of which came on the ground.
“I’m the type of guy who wants more. I want to be great. I don’t want to be mediocre,” said Dobbins. “Yeah, I’m glad to be in the playoffs but I know the goal, I know why I was brought here. I’m just going to do everything I can to help this team win this first playoff game.”
In addition to churning out a stellar passing performance where he threw for three touchdowns to one deflected interception, Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson made history with his legs. He entered the game 92 yards away from his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season.
The reigning league MVP gashed Cincinnati’s defense for 97 yards on 11 carries in just three quarters. He not only became the quarterback to rush for at least 1,000 yards in back-to-back years, but Jackson also became the first player at the position to have two seasons with 1,000 or more yards rushing in their career period and he’s only 23 and just getting started.
“For him to do that, it just shows how spectacular he is,” wide receiver Marquise Brown said. “He can do it in all phases of the game. I’m super proud of him.”
Baltimore will now turn their attention and intense focus towards a familiar foe in the Tennessee Titans who beat them twice in the same calendar year including a shocking 28-12 upset in the divisional round of the 2019 playoffs.
“It’s not about them,” Jackson said. “It’s about us. It didn’t really matter who we played. We’re going to go in there with the same mentality, just focus on our assignment, and try to come out with a W.”
The two teams faced off in Week 11 of the 2020 regular season and the Ravens gave up a double-digit second-half lead before ultimately falling in overtime because of a 29-yard walk-off touchdown from the two-time defending league rushing champion in running back Derrick Henry.
“Man, you’re older than that man – you can’t call that dude ‘King Henry,'” Judon said to a reporter prior to knowing who they would be facing next weekend. “But it is what it is, you feel me? If we have to go to Tennessee, [or] if we have to go to upstate New York, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. We just have to win.
“We’re not worried about last year. If we could get last year back, we would go back to last year. I don’t know why you all want to continue to talk about it – we’re in 2021. Last year is last year, and right now is right now. Whoever we get, and whenever the timeslot we get them, we have to be ready to play them.”
The Ravens players and coaches are not out to seek revenge on what transpired in the past, they know that the playoffs are the start of a new season where records and previous head-to-head matchups do not matter.
“It’s a bunch of guys who are happy, but we’re still hungry,” Dobbins said. “We’re glad to get this win to get in, but we know what the ultimate goal is. I think that’s what’s on our minds right now.”
The Titans were taken down to the wire in their season finale by the Houston Texans but got a lucky bounce off the right upright on a 37-yard field goal from their practice squad kicker to avoid overtime and secure their first AFC South division title since 2008.
Final stats v Bengals:
Jackson finished 10-of-18 for 118 yards and a passer rating of 91. Dobbins led the team in rushing with a career-high 162 yards. Brown led the team in receptions (five) and targets (eight) and hauled in a pair of touchdowns.
Outside linebacker Matt Judon led the team in total tackles with six. Cornerback Marcus Peters and safety Chuck Clark both recorded impressive interceptions. Peters’ was a beautiful one-handed snag in the end zone and Clark was able to get both feet down in bounds along the sideline.
Cincinnati’s Brandon Allen only completed six of his 21 passing attempts for 48 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions, and a woeful passer rating of zero. The Bengals were able to run the ball well at times and had two players rush for over 50 yards on less than 10 carries.