Ravens Handle Bengals in Primetime

Ravens wide receiver Nelson Agholor (holding the ball) celebrates his touchdown scored in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals on November 16, 2023, in Baltimore. Photo by Lapresse

The Baltimore Ravens welcomed the Cincinnati Bengals to town on Thursday night for a rematch of their week two matchup that saw the Ravens come away with a narrow 27-24 victory. The Ravens were looking to extend their lead within the AFC north, while the Bengals were looking to keep pace in the AFC north and keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Ravens wasted little time getting on the board as the Ravens took the games opening possession 75 yards on nine plays before running back Gus Edwards found the end zone for his first of two scores on the night. While the Ravens quickly grabbed momentum just two plays prior to the Edwards touchdown, tight end Mark Andrews went down following a nine-yard reception. Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson tackles Andrews form behind putting his weight on Andrew’s ankle as the went to the ground. Ravens players and fans looked on before Andrews was helped to his feet and limped to the sideline. Head coach John Harbaugh in his post game press conference broke they news that Andrews is likely done for the season with what he described as a “serious ankle injury”.

Thursday night games are tough. Thursday night divisional games are even tougher and that was the case for players on both sides who came up hobbled throughout the night. Another player that was knocked out was Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow, who was not listed on the injury report this week, appeared to hurt his hand/wrist after a four-yard touchdown throw to his running back Joe Mixon in the second quarter. Burrow tried to work through the injury on the sideline, but was unable to fully grip the ball leading him to be out for the remainder of the game. Before he left the game Burrow was 11-for-17 for 101 yards, and the one touchdown that would give the Bengals a 10-7 lead with just under six minutes to play in the first half.

The Ravens offense struggled slightly offensively after their opening drive score, but answered the Bengals touchdown with a touchdown of their own to regain the lead. On just the second play of the drive the Ravens looked to have scored on a Zay Flowers 68-yard catch and run. But a questionable hold by Odell Beckham Jr. would negate the long touchdown. Despite the penalty the Ravens offense continued to move and on third down from the Bengals 37 yard line, Jackson dropped back to pass looking to fire it in over the middle. The ball was tipped by a Bengals defender into the waiting arms of Ravens receiver Nelson Agholor. Agholor turned on the jets, flipping into the end zone to give the Ravens a 14-10 lead with just over two minutes to play in the first half.

But the Ravens weren’t done scoring just yet. Backup quarterback Jake Browning would take over for Burrow on the Bengals next drive, but after five plays would be forced to punt it back to the Ravens. The Ravens offense returned to the field with 1:30 left in the first half and all three timeouts. After nine plays and two defensive pass interference penalties on the Bengals, the Ravens were set up at the Bengals 10 yard line with 28 seconds left. Jackson once again dropped back and would find Rashod Batman for the score, his first receiving touchdown of the season to extend the Ravens lead 21-10 heading into halftime.

The Bengals would emerge from the locker room with Browning warming up, and Burrow, still in full uniform with an ear piece and without his helmet. Prior to Thursday night, Browning had thrown just one NFL pass coming in week one this season. On the Bengals opening drive of the second half the Bengals relied heavily on the their rushing game to get don to the Ravens ight yard line before needing to settle for a field goal. Evan McPherson would connect from 26-yards out to trim the Ravens lead 21-13. The Ravens would tack on two Justin Tucker field goals from 25 and 47-yards out to give the Ravens a 27-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

With just over eight minutes left in the game the Ravens needed just one more score to completely seal the victory. On the second play Jackson found Beckham Jr. streaking down the right side for a pickup of 51-yards, his longest play of the season and putting him over 100 yards receiving for the game. Beckham’s 116 yards was the first time he has eclipsed 100 yards since the NFC championship game in 2021 when he was a member of the Rams, and the first time in a regular season game since week six against the Seahawks in 2019.

Just four plays after Beckham’s long reception Edwards found the end zone again this time from three-yards out to give the Ravens a commanding 34-13 lead with 4:49 left in the game.

The Bengals on their final offensive possession would move down the field in eight plays before Browning found Ja’Marr Chase for the two-yard score in the front corner of the end zone. While the Ravens lead got cut 34-20 after the Chase touchdown, is was simply too little too late for the Bengals. Their onside kick attempt failed and after to Edwards runs the Ravens completed the season sweep of the Bengals by a final of 34-20.

With the win the Ravens moved to 8-3 and 3-2 in the AFC north while maintaining first place within the AFC north. For the Bengals the loss moves them to 5-5 on the year and 0-3 in the AFC north.

The defense once again played lights out as they held the Bengals to just 272 yards of total offense and just 2-of-11 on third down. The pressure that this Ravens defense can generate can throw off any offense in the NFL no matter the quarterback under center. The Ravens added five more sacks to their NFL leading sack total. The loss of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow surely changed the dynamic of the Bengals offense, but even before Burrows departure they had done a good job limiting Burrow and the Bengals to no big plays and just 10 points. The Raven secondary for the second straight meeting held Ja’Marr Chase in check. Chase finished the night with just two catches for 12 yards.

The loss of Mark Andrews is a blow to this Ravens offense that looked to be getting better and better every week. It will be tough to replace a player of his caliber one that was second on the team in receiving and is quarterback Lamar Jackson’s favorite target. It will take a group effort by the young tight ends in Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar. Both of whom made plays on Thursday night after Andrews left the game, and that will need to continue as the Ravens hit the most important stretch of their season. The Ravens newly revamped wide receiver room will also need to step up with more targets now expecting to be coming Bateman, Flowers, and Beckham’s way moving forward.

The Ravens will now have a “mini” bye week, as they will have off this Sunday before traveling to Los Angeles to face the Chargers on November 26th. The Chargers are desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive as they currently sit at 4-5 and are set to play the Green Bay Packers this Sunday.

Notable Injuries:

Mark Andrews (ankle)- Likely Season Ending

Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder)- Day-to-Day

Games Notes:

Quarterback Lamar Jackson became the third quarterback since 1970 to pass for 200 yards and rush for 50 yards, 25 times in a career.

Linebacker Patrick Queen led all Ravens with 11 total tackles.

Wide receiver Zay Flowers now holds the record for most receptions by a Ravens rookie in a season.

Rookie outside linebacker Tavius Robinson recorded his first career sack on Thursday night.

Running back Gus Edwards is now tied for third for most rushing touchdowns by a Raven in a season.

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