Short-Handed Ravens Push Surging Bengals in Finale - Todd Karpovich
“Obviously, [this was] a tough loss, so we’ll be excited to get back here,” rookie center Tyler Linderbaum said. “Obviously on offense, [we have] a lot of stuff to clean up. Defense helped us out a lot, but going in to next week, [we have] a lot of things to clean up, but the good thing is we can play a lot better than we did. So, [I am] looking forward to it.”
Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely had eight catches for 103 yards.
“I feel like we proved a big point to them to show them that next week it’s not going to be the same outcome, definitely,” said Likely.
Ravens rookie David Ojabo had a strip-sack on Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow that led to a field goal and cut the lead to 24-10 midway through the third quarter.
“This will be round three for us, so the opportunity is that we’re in the playoffs,” right tackle Morgan Moses said. “So, it doesn’t really matter who we face; we have the opportunity to play. A lot of teams are going home; they don’t have a game after this week, so that’s what’s in front of us – the opportunity to play in the playoffs. Obviously, I wasn’t here last year, and I wasn’t able to do that, and so we’re back at it again. So, like I said, we start from now, everybody’s 0-0. It’s an opportunity to come out here and get a win.”
Anthony Brown has a rough debut. With Tyler Huntley stuck in the gray area between inactive and able to play, the Ravens decided to take the safe approach Sunday, sitting Huntley and starting the Oregon product in his place. The results were predictably poor, with Brown throwing two first-half interceptions and fumbling away another possession in Baltimore’s end zone, allowing the Bengals to build a 24-7 lead before halftime. Brown didn’t bring much to the table, completing 19 of 44 passes for 286 yards and two interceptions, but he wasn’t as dreadful as that stat line suggests. Still, Brown didn’t pose much of a threat to the Bengals, and even Kenyan Drake’s efforts (16 carries for 60 yards and one touchdown) weren’t enough to make this game close. With the regular season now complete, Baltimore will now hope either Huntley or Lamar Jackson can play next week.
Next Gen stat of the game: Trey Hendrickson was one of three Bengals defenders with three-plus QB pressures (he finished with three) and one or more sacks (he finished with two). Hendrickson also forced a turnover caused by pressure, resulting in Joseph Ossai’s fumble-recovery touchdown.
NFL Research: Cincinnati scored three touchdowns off three takeaways in the first half Sunday, the most in the opening half of a game by any team this season, by the Bengals since 2000, and by any team since 2007.
Right guard Kevin Zeitler was the only missing starter so it was surprising that the left side of the line — tackle Ronnie Stanley and guard Ben Powers — struggled. It looked as though Stanley had trouble planting with his ankle and pass blocking. This group gave Brown little time to throw both inside and outside of the pocket. The Ravens allowed four sacks. Grade: C-
The Ravens gave up 27 points but their defense, particularly the front seven, played well. They got consistent pressure on quarterback Joe Burrow, who was elusive and escaped the pocket several times. The Ravens held the Bengals to 55 rushing yards. When Burrow stepped up in the pocket, there was nowhere for him to go. Overall, a strong rebound performance from a week ago against the Steelers. Grade: B+
The cornerbacks need to come up and do a better job tackling, especially on short passes, but the Ravens made the Bengals receivers pay for some of Burrow’s flutter balls he threw in the intermediate and deep areas of the field. Safety Marcus Williams and cornerback Marlon Humphrey had seven tackles apiece. This group will be tested more next week when the Bengals stretch the field a little more. There were several receivers open deep down the field in the first half when Cincinnati’s offense was more wide-open. Grade: B
Ravens Excited to Visit Bengals on Wild-Card Weekend - Clifton Brown
“It’s kind of exciting,” Humphrey said. “We just had a scrimmage.
“They’re pretty familiar with us. It’s just going to be who’s the better team. When you play three times the better team usually shows.”
The Ravens hope Lamar Jackson (knee) will be healthy enough play in the playoffs after missing the final five games of the regular season. Jackson was in the lineup when the Ravens defeated the Bengals, 19-17, in Week 5, but regardless of who plays quarterback, Baltimore is not conceding anything.
“Of course if Lamar, if he’s able to go that gives us the best chance to win,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “I’m going to be rooting for that and hoping that happens. At the same time, it’s football. We have confidence in ourselves. We’re going to go out there, with whoever we put out there, and give it our best shot.”
“It’s playoff football,” Campbell said. “Against a divisional opponent, this is kind of like what it will be next week. I respect them a lot, those guys are talented as can be, play with a lot of heart. Chippiness is part of the game. They want it just as bad as we do. It’s going to come down to who plays the best ball.”
What does the Ravens’ postseason path look like now?
Would the Ravens have been better off going all out to try and get the fifth seed, which would have required a Chargers loss to Denver, and a first-round matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars? Perhaps. But the Ravens’ best chance of doing anything in the playoffs includes getting quarterback Lamar Jackson back and having the rest of the team as healthy as possible.
It’s been abundantly clear over the last month that the Ravens are not going anywhere without Jackson back. There is some optimism that Jackson, who hasn’t been on the field since hurting his knee Dec. 4, could practice this week and play in the postseason opener. But it will obviously be a challenge for Jackson to get ready for a playoff game when he’s missed so much time.