The Baltimore Ravens beat the Cincinnati Bengals for the second time this season with a 34-20 primetime victory in Week 11. It marked the Ravens’ first series-sweeping of the Bengals since 2020 and improved their record to 8-3, while dropping their rivals to 5-5.
In a game where they were favored to win, the Ravens were able to play complementary football. They built and held onto a double-digit lead thanks to some of their less-heralded players on both sides of the ball.
This article highlights the players whose performances flew under the radar but were still clutch — the unsung heroes.
In their Week 10 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens lost the battle in the trenches and were held to a season-low 106 rushing yards. The Ravens’ starting blocking bounced back with a strong performance in their win over the Bengals. They provided two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Lamar Jackson with enough time to carve up Cincinnati’s defense for 264 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. However, they did their best work went it came to run blocking.
The Ravens moved the ball well through the air but were held to just 30 yards on the ground in the first half. They were able to flip the script on the Bengals in the second half and racked up 127 of their 157 rushing yards in the final two quarters. Sixth-year veteran running back Gus Edwards led the team with 62 rushing yards and recorded multiple touchdowns for the third time in the past four games.
Look at Tyler Linderbaum moving that dude inside.— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) November 18, 2023
Gets rewarded with a TD (and Trey Hendrickson incidentally kicking him in the back of the knee). pic.twitter.com/MtCaUFrIz3
“They have been doing a great job down there,” Edwards said of the Ravens’ offensive line. “[I give] a lot of credit to them, too. It’s not a one-man thing. They’ve been getting great push and making my job easier.”
CB Brandon Stephens
With Marlon Humphrey out with a calf strain, Stephens shadowed Bengals’ wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase for most of the game. The third-year pro answered the call for the second time this season and put the clamps on Chase even better than he did in Week 2 when Humphrey was out recovering from foot surgery.
Cincinnati's most dangerous weapon was held to just two receptions on seven targets for a measly 12 receiving yards. He had a garbage time touchdown that cut the Ravens lead from three possessions to two with just 72 seconds left in the game. While the late score snapped Stephens’ streak of consecutive coverage snaps without allowing a touchdown, he had already won the day under a national spotlight.
Brandon Stephens is Elite this season pic.twitter.com/5wFoU3Q4RG— クリス (@BatemansBurner) November 17, 2023
TE Isaiah Likely
Likely did recording a catch on two targets even after three-time Pro Bowl starter Mark Andrews suffered a season-ending injury on the opening possession. However, the second-year pro was still able to make some impressive plays and have a profound impact.
Likely was made his presence felt as a blocker both in the run game and downfield for his fellow pass catchers. He was on the field for both of Edwards’ touchdowns near the goal line. His best blocks came when he took out a pair of Bengals defenders on rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers’ record-breaking 33-yard reception.
CB Ronald Darby
The ninth-year veteran stepped up in a big way with Humphrey out and had his best game of the season as the other starting outside corner. He played a large role in the joint effort that limited Chase and while he didn’t record a single tackle, Darby led the team with three pass breakups. One of his best plays was preventing Chase from getting his feet in the field of play by forcing him out of bounds.
According to Pro Football Focus, Darby allowed just one reception on four targets and an opposing passer rating of 39.6.
Ronald Darby in coverage vs. the Bengals— PFF BAL Ravens (@PFF_Ravens) November 17, 2023
1 reception allowed, 12 yards
3 forced incompletions
39.6 passer rating allowed
FB Patrick Ricard
The four-time Pro Bowler was just as essential to the Ravens’ success in the running game as any of their starting offensive linemen and performed exceptionally well in pass protection too. Ricard helped pave the way, open holes, and seal the edge for several of the Ravens’ biggest runs and both of Edwards’ touchdowns as well.
One of his most impressive plays was blocking on Edwards’ cutback to rip off the Ravens’ longest run of the game to start the the third quarter. Another was when he blocked Hendrickson one-on-one in pass protection with excellent technique to give Jackson enough time to complete a pass from a pristine pocket.