While I have many colorful words for this game I think the only word I can use, in case any small children read this, is ‘Ugly’.
More specifically, on the offensive side of the ball the Ravens only mustered 189 yards on 15 possessions. And at one point they only had 10 points on 16 measly yards. Let’s dive into this 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals that was an absolute mess.
To end all this on a good note, let’s break down the offense first. Quarterback Joe Flacco finished the game 20 for 36 with 2 touchdowns, with 2 interceptions, a lost fumble, 140 yards, and a pedestrian quarterback rating of 50.9. I’ll spare you from Andy Dalton’s atrocious stat line, but for comparison sake his Quarterback Rating was 17.3.
Flacco’s only great play from this game came in the first quarter, on a play-action pass on third and goal. Flacco rolled right, out of the grasp of two defenders, and hit tight end Dallas Clark in the back of the end zone. One of Flacco’s interceptions wasn’t entirely his fault and occurred when Carlos Dunlap hit Flacco’s arm as he attempted to dump off a pass.
While, it might have been smarter to just take a sack, you can’t blame Joe for trying to make a play. The other interception was all on Joe, as he threw it into double coverage and it was picked off by Terrence Newman. However, Joe’s day could have been much worse, as Flacco also threw two balls right to defenders and they should have been picked, but were dropped. Flacco struggled with his accuracy all day and overthrew and underthrew multiple deep passes, it was just a bad day in general for the Ravens quarterback.
We all know that water is wet, the sky is blue, and the Ravens’ running game and offensive line are horrible. Running back Bernard Pierce looked the best out of the back field, rushing 8 times for 31 yards and a 3.9 yard average. Pierce ran with power and extended plays, running around in the backfield trying to find creases and making something out of nothing. Ray Rice, on the other hand, continued looking down right pathetic, 30 yards on 18 carries with a 1.7 yard average. I honestly don’t know who is to blame for his performance this season, the offensive line or Rice himself, but if Pierce can muster 31 yards on 8 carries why can’t Rice? It’s just becoming frustrating to watch him.
The offensive line put on one of its worst performances to date, giving up 5 sacks and 6 quarterback hits. What is there to say that hasn’t been said already?
Michael Oher is average at best, Marshal Yanda isn’t completely healthy after having shoulder surgery in the offseason, Gino Gradkowski isn’t the answer at center at the moment as he doesn’t get any push off the line of scrimmage, Kelechi Osmele is on IR, his replacement, A.Q. ‘The Penguin’ Shipley, is too short and stubby to be an offensive lineman, and so far Eugene Monroe has been our best offensive lineman since coming over from Jacksonville.
Blame run game coordinator Juan Castillo all you want for the problems on the offensive line, but in the end it comes down to the players and their performance.
The receivers were the only bright spot on offense against the Bengals, and by receivers, I mean Torrey Smith, and when I say bright spot, it’s not by much. As normal, Torrey put up the best game of all the receivers with 5 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. The fact that it was the best offensive performance is cringe worthy and laughable.
Tight end Ed Dickson did something we didn’t think he could do; he actually caught a pass, 3 passes for 28 yards to be exact. Marlon Brown made an impressive catch for a first down, it would be his only catch of the day. Dallas Clark had one catch for a touchdown in the redzone. Not a great day at all for the receivers, but it was the only part of the offense that looked passable for an NFL offense.
Let’s move on to the other side of the ball, the defense. Aside from the blunder that James Ihedigbo made on the Hail Mary at the end of the fourth, the defense played very well, 364 yards allowed doesn’t exactly show that but 3 interceptions and 5 sacks does. The Ravens switched it up on defense, mainly with dialing up more blitzes and putting cornerback Lardarius Webb in the slot, where he was extremely effective.
To start off, the pass rush was excellent, 5 sacks and 9 quarterback hits is very impressive. Elvis Dumervil had a great game notching 2.5 sacks, 3 tackles, one pass deflection, and 2 tackles for a loss. DeAngelo Tyson and Arthur Jones also are accredited with sacks, Tyson notching his first career one.
The front seven in general played well, but there is definite room for improvement. Giovanni Bernard rushed for 58 yards on 14 carries and Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis rushed for 36 yards on 9 carries, respectively. Daryl Smith was once again the standout among the group with 9 tackles, one tackle for a loss, and two pass deflections. What can I say about Smith that hasn’t been said already? The guy is a beast, enough said.
The secondary played amazing considering what they went up against. A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Giovanni Bernard in the passing game, and the newly emerged Marvin Jones is enough to give a defense a sleepless night. James Ihedigbo was the star of it all, good and bad, as he notched his first two career interceptions. His tipped ball during the Hail Mary is inexcusable, and if the Ravens lost, he and the offense would be the target for most of the blame.
Lardarius Webb played extremely well seeing as the Ravens’ experimented playing him out of position, mainly as the nickel corner blitzing and stopping the run. Webb had 5 tackles, 6 pass deflections and an interception.
Jimmy Smith also played extremely well and he is turning into the player everyone thought he could be coming out of Colorado. He played extremely physical and had tight coverage whoever he was on. Smith finished with 5 tackles and 2 pass deflections.
I think the unsung hero of the secondary was cornerback Chykie Brown. He may not have gotten the spotlight, but with Webb in the slot for a majority of the game, he has some one-on-ones with A.J. Green and he shut him down. With Corey Graham not living up to the hype he had this offseason, Brown is getting his chances in with the defense, and he’s making them count.
While not a pretty game for the Ravens, the saying goes, “A win is a win”. While the Ravens may not look like a playoff team, the AFC North is up for grabs, and they did stumble their way into the playoffs last year, so there is some hope.
The Ravens’ offense will need to pick up the slack though, as they head into Chicago next week to face the Bears led by Josh McCown.