Ravens Turn the Ball Over Four Times in Loss to Bengals
The Baltimore Ravens fell to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday to give them a final record of 10-7 on the year. With the opportunity to get a home playoff game with a win, the Ravens instead chose to rest many of their starters, specifically on offense. Undrafted rookie quarterback Anthony Brown got his first NFL start in place of an inactive Tyler Huntley, who started the previous four weeks for an injured Lamar Jackson. The Ravens also were without lead running back J.K Dobbins, and leading receiver Mark Andrews as they were healthy scratches, as well as running back Gus Edwards for most of the game as he was entered into concussion protocol early into Sunday’s game.
Brown got off to a shaky start as his third career pass attempt was intercepted by Bengals safety Jessie Bates. The Bengals would turn the Brown interception into a Joe Mixon one-yard touchdown run, to take a quick 10-0 lead.
But things would go from bad to worse as on the Ravens following offensive possession, Brown would look for Demarcus Robinson. The ball was thrown slightly behind Robinson going through his hands into the arms of Bengals quarterback Mike Hilton for Browns second interception in as many drives.
Three plays later Burrow would find Ja’Marr Chase for a 26-yard pass and catch over Ravens cornerback Daryl Wolrey, who was playing in place of an injured Marcus Peters and Brandon Stephens. With a commanding 17-0 lead early in the second quarter, it looked like the game would be a blowout in favor of the Bengals.
Anthony Brown would settle down after his two mistakes, after a Ravens defensive stop midway through the second quarter. Brown would lead a 10 play 76 yard drive that would be capped off by a Kenyan Drake four-yard touchdown run.
The Ravens looked to have momentum swinging back in their favor before the end of the half. After forcing a quick Bengals three and out. The Ravens were set up at their own five yard line with 47 seconds till halftime. Instead of taking a 17-7 deficit into the half, the Ravens offense was looking to get some more points. That decision would backfire however, as Brown would be strip sacked by Trey Hendrickson in the end zone, recovered by Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai to give the Bengals a 24-7 lead into the half.
The Ravens intensity did not waiver however even with the large deficit. The Ravens would force a turnover of their own on the Bengals second possession of the second half. Rookie outside linebacker David Ojabo, playing in just his second game, strip sacked Joe Burrow, recovered by Patrick Queen setting the Ravens offense up at the Bengals nine yard line.
The Ravens would fail to find the end zone however and would have to settle for a Justin Tucker 26-yard field goal, to cut the Bengals lead to 14.
The Bengals would answer with a Evan McPherson field goal of their own increase their lead back to 17. Anthony Brown however would drive the Ravens offense right back down the field on an 11 play 42 yard drive finished off with a Justin Tucker 51-yard field goal. The Bengals took a 27-13 lead into the fourth quarter.
Tucker would make his third field goal of the game early in the fourth quarter this time good from 27-yards out. After a back and forth third quarter, both defenses would step up in the fourth quarter with neither offense able to get much going.
With just over three minutes remaining and down 27-16, the Ravens needed a big play to keep their hopes of winning alive. On first down Brown drop backed to pass and found a wide open Sammy Watkins. Watkins got down to the Bengals 33 yard line fighting for extra yards. But that extra fight would end up being costly as Bengals safety Vonn Bell stripped the ball away from Watkins turning a big play for the Ravens into an even bigger play for the Bengals. Watkins fumble would be the fourth turnover of the game for the Ravens.
The Ravens defense was able to force a three and out, but with no timeouts, down 11, and with only one minute left in the game. The Ravens hope of winning was over, as the Bengals secured a 27-16 victory and avoiding the season sweep.
The Ravens were at a steep disadvantage on Sunday, and while they loss their was plenty of positives to build on heading into the playoffs. The defense continued to play excellent football holding Burrow to just one touchdown and 215 yards passing, while only giving up 20 points to an offense that has been red hot over the last month.
The Ravens offensively looked the best they have since Lamar Jackson went down over a month ago. With nearly 400 yards of total offense with a third string quarterback making his first NFL start, Greg Roman and this Ravens offense should feel confident heading into the rematch next week. The play of rookie tight ends Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar on Sunday, will hopefully carry over and help what has been a very stagnant Ravens passing offense.
The health of Lamar Jackson for next week is still up in the air, but their is some hope that he will be healthy enough to play for the first time since being injured five weeks ago. Jackson gives the Ravens the best chance to win, that is no debate. But with the strong play of Anthony Brown, if Jackson is unable to go their could be some support for Brown to get the start even if Tyler Huntley is healthy.
The Ravens will return to Cincinnati next Sunday night to take on the Bengals in the wild-card round of the playoffs. This will be the first playoff meeting between the AFC north rivals, and the third meeting between the two teams this season.
Gus Edwards (concussion protocol) Day-to-Day
Isaiah Likely led all receivers with 103 receiving yards.
Roquan Smith had a season high 12 solo tackles.
Kenyan Drake led all rusher with 60 yards on the ground.
Justin Tucker set the Ravens record for most points scored in a season (142).
Justin Houston recorded a half sack on Sunday, giving him a team high 9.5 sacks on the year.