How do you even describe this game? The Ravens looked horrible in the first half, the Bengals kept them in it, then each team had two big plays.
Here are my five thoughts on the Ravens 23-16 loss to the Bengals.
1. A Tale Of Two Flaccos
It sure didn’t seem like Joe Flacco could do anything right early on Sunday. CBS highlighted the numerous drops by the Ravens receiving corps, in particular Steve Smith had a dreadful debut in purple, but Flacco threw behind his receivers, was intercepted after Baltimore blocked a Mike Nugent field goal attempt and made one the most boneheaded plays you’ll ever see at the end of the first half.
With the ball on the Bengals 15 yard line and eight seconds remaining in the half, Flacco scrambled and was eventually sacked, wasting all of the remaining time on the clock. All he had to do was throw the ball away and set up a chip shot field goal for Justin Tucker.
But nooooooo, that didn’t happen. Instead, we got this:
First half summary. pic.twitter.com/skm9CBo2sB
— BalSportsReport (@BalSportsReport) September 7, 2014
And then the second half happened. There must have been some voodoo Gary Kubiak magic done in the locker room at halftime. Flacco went 6-for-7 on the Ravens first scoring drive, then connected with Steve Smith for an 80 yard touchdown to give Baltimore their first lead of the game.
So damn elite.
2. Bernard Pierce To The John Harbaugh Dog House
Welcome to the John Harbaugh Dog House, Bernard Pierce. Find a nice place on the sideline with a good view and make yourself comfortable.
The first two weeks of the season are a huge opportunity for Pierce while the Ravens await the return of the suspended Ray Rice. Pierce fumbled on 1st-and-10 late in the first half, four plays later Nuget drained a 38 yarder to give the Bengals a 15-0 lead.
Pierce then found himself standing on the sidelines while Justin Forsett took his playing time and had a pretty damn good game.
Which leads me to…
3. Have Yourself A Day, Justin Forsett
Talk about taking advantage of an opportunity. Forsett saw an opening and ran with it. Get it? Get it? Like he ran with it.
It was Forsett’s 13 yard run that finally put the Ravens on the board in the third quarter. He seems to have more success after contact than Pierce did and finally gave Baltimore’s offense a little more balance in the second half. Forsett finished the day with 70 yards, averaging 6.4 per carry.
4. All Pitta All The Time
During the Ravens first touchdown drive, Pitta and Flacco connected twice, once for eight yards and again for 23. Pitta finished with ten catches, most of anyone wearing purple.
5. Ravens Defense Couldn’t Handle Bengals Pace
We all knew that Baltimore’s secondary is the weakness of their defense. The wide receiver screen seemed to particularly stump the Ravens defense today. To make up for it, they have to put pressure on the quarterback. That didn’t seem to happen today against the Bengals.
The season opener felt very 2013-esque with the Ravens defense unable to limit the damage on third and long. The Bengals no huddle certainly kept the Baltimore defense off balance. Did anyone see Haloti Ngata? I’m not sure if he was actually out there.
He finished with two tackles, no sacks — not even a QB hit.
You could credit the defense’s ability to limit the damage and force the Bengals to kick so many field goals, but right after Baltimore took a 16-15 lead, Chykie Brown and company allowed A.J. Green to go 77 yards and retake the lead, 23-16.