In what felt like a game that took a lifetime to conclude, the Ravens grinded out a 23-17 win over the Bengals in Week 6. Cincinnati scored a touchdown on the opening play of the game via a kickoff return but from there, the Ravens controlled the tempo throughout.
Baltimore once again failed to pounce on some opportunities to fully put their opponent away in the second and third quarters, but they gave themselves a big enough cushion to comfortably cruise to victory - sans an onside kick attempt late in the fourth quarter.
Takeaways? Here ...
1) If it ain’t broke broke, don’t fix it ...?
Following a disappointing loss to the Browns, the Ravens have ripped off consecutive wins via a formula that looks very familiar: ground & pound, defense, clock control. Lamar Jackson and company haven’t produced many big plays in the passing game recently but they’ve been able to grind out two much-needed victories nonetheless. While this may work against the Bengals and Steelers, they’ll likely need to adjust with tougher opponents awaiting on the schedule: Seahawks, Patriots, Rams, etc. Still, the Ravens did enough to d
Much like his performance against the Bengals last year, Jackson was nothing short of dynamic on the ground. Jackson weaved and juked his way to a career-high 152 rushing yards on 19 carries, including a highlight 21-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter. This time around against Cincinnati, however, Jackson was much better as a passer, connecting on 21/33 throws for 236 yards. He was off-target on a few throws but also had a couple completions called back and was generally efficient throughout the contest.
2) Pay that man
Marlon Humphrey this, Marlon Humphrey that. Humphrey has been a regular talking point in these post-game takeaway articles and if you thought that was going to change this Sunday, you thought wrong. There isn’t much that can be said that hasn’t already about Humphrey, especially after another standout performance against the Bengals.
“Humph” once again followed the opposition’s top receiver for the majority of the game, this time limiting Tyler Boyd to just three catches on ten targets (10 yards). Boyd may not be on the same level of a JuJu Smith-Schuster or Odell Beckham Jr., but he is nonetheless a talented receiver and the key cog in Cincinnati’s passing attack. Humphrey also came up with his second interception of the season, recovering a deflected pass intended for Boyd in the second quarter. Needless to say that whenever contract extension talks begin, give Humphrey whatever he wants.
3) New linebackers making an impact
When the Ravens signed veteran linebackers Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort following their Week 4 loss to Cleveland, it was difficult to gauge what sort of impact they would have. We’re now two weeks into the Bynes-Fort era, though, and the early returns have been positive. Bynes quickly leaped Kenny Young and Chris Board on the depth chart prior to the Pittsburgh game and after recording an interception last week, he deflected the pass that was intercepted by Humphrey.
Fort was primarily a special teams player against the Steelers but with Patrick Onwuasor inactive in Week 6, Fort earned the start opposite Bynes and performed admirably. Both his and Bynes’ stat lines may not jump off the page, but they limited big plays over the middle and were strong against the run. Bynes and, to a lesser extent, Ford, have helped stabilize a linebacking core that desperately needed it. Onwuasor will almost certainly reoccupy his starting role going forward, but Ford should have a role and Bynes should continue to start.
4) No “Hollywood”, No Problem
After missing much of last week’s contest and being held out of several practices this throughout the week with an ankle injury, WR Marquise Brown was announced inactive early on Sunday. Without their leading and most explosive wideout in the lineup, it was once again Mark Andrews pacing the team in receiving, catching six passes for 99 yards. However, while no other pass-catcher caught more than two passes, it was a well-rounded and all-around effort from the Ravens’ receiving core.
Rookie Miles Boykin got involved early and caught two passes for 28 yards, and veteran Seth Roberts had back-to-back third down conversions in the third quarter. Chris Moore, Nick Boyle, and Mark Ingram each had two receptions of their own, too, and Willie Snead IV hauled in three catches for 18 yards. Evidently this group lacks pop and luster without “Hollywood” present, but some key catches proved valuable on Sunday.
5) Cincinnati’s No. 2 wideouts love playing the Ravens
We’re all well-aware of what A.J. Green has done to the Ravens over the years and because of that, Baltimore fans sighed in relief when Green was ruled inactive for Sunday’s matchup. If you took the number and last name off of Auden Tate’s jersey today, though, you would have thought Green was playing. Tate picked up the slack for Tyler Boyd and led the Bengals in receiving with five catches and 91 yards. Between leaping grabs and jump balls, Tate put forth a heck of a performance against the likes of Maurice Canady and Justin Bethel. Tate routinely made an athletic grab over a cornerback and proceeded to then stare him down afterwards.
For the past few seasons, it’s been Boyd who torched the Ravens playing opposite Green. This time around, Tate, the WR2 opposite Boyd, was the receiver to find success against Baltimore’s secondary.