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Ravens vs. Bengals: 4 game ball candidates

Breaking down the top performers from a big Week 2 victory

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens improved to 2-0 to begin the season on Sunday, earning a 27-24 victory over the Bengals in Cincinnati. The Ravens took an early lead and never trailed at any point in the game. They had a decisive advantage total yardage, first downs gained, and time of possession.

Who stood out on the team in the winning effort? Let’s break down some of the top performances from Week 2 — check them out below and vote for your game ball recipient!

Lamar Jackson

After a shaky performance in the season opener, where he turned the ball over twice with no touchdowns, Jackson bounced back in a huge way in Cincinnati. Jackson found a rhythm early and never wavered out of it, as he was in command of the offense all afternoon.

Down two starting offensive lineman and one of his top weapons in Odell Beckham Jr., who exited the game early, Jackson led five scoring drives while completing 24-of-33 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 112.8. He added 54 rushing yards on 12 carries, picking up a number of key first downs on the ground.

He was especially prolific in the second half. Immediately following an interception and 36-yard return from Geno Stone, Jackson delivered a 52-yard deep strike to Zay Flowers. That proceeded a three-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews three plays later. Early in the fourth quarter, his perfectly-placed 17-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor, on third down, gave the Ravens a 10-point cushion.

On the final drive of the game, Jackson scrambled for a 12-yard gain on 3rd & 5 with just over two minutes remaining. That set the Ravens up to run the clock out late and walk away with a victory.

Gus Edwards

Justice Hill drew the start at running back and out-snapped Edwards in the first half, while ultimately finishing with one more rushing attempt. However, Edwards was the team’s most effective runner on the day. His 10 carries for 62 yards don’t wow in the box score, but the “Gus Bus” made some crucial plays throughout the afternoon.

On the Ravens’ opening possession of the game, Edwards’ 17-yard gain contributed to the 75-yard drive. He capped it off with a rushing touchdown from one yard out to give the Ravens an early lead.

In the second half, Edwards played a familiar “closer” role to help the Ravens churn clock and preserve their lead late. He had a 20-yard rush to begin a 12-play touchdown drive that expanded the Ravens’ lead to 27-17. On that same drive, he picked up two key third-and-short conversions to extend the possession.

He did so again on the final drive of the game with a five-yard rush on 3rd & 1 with just over a minute remaining. This was effectively the nail in the coffin of the Ravens’ victory, as the Bengals had no timeouts and could not stop the clock to get the ball back.

Nelson Agholor

Agholor played an expanded role following Beckham’s exit with an ankle injury in the second quarter. After a zero-catch, zero-target showing in the season opener, the veteran wideout tied for a team lead in receptions in Week 2 (five) and led the team in receiving yards with 63.

The former first-round pick came alive in the second quarter with first-down receptions of 11, 10, and 17 yards, respectively. His 17-yard catch on the final drive of the quarter helped push the Ravens into scoring territory, which was key because it preceded two holding penalties that combined for -20 yards. The drive ended with a field goal before halftime.

Then, early in the fourth quarter, Agholor had an eight-yard catch to create a short-yardage third down scenario, which was converted by Edwards. Three plays later, Agholor created separation in one-on-one coverage and caught another 17-yard pass from Jackson for a touchdown. That expanded the Ravens lead to 27-17 in the final frame of play.

It was a solid all-around receiving performance from No. 15, who was overshadowed in Week 1 but came up huge today in Cincinnati.

Geno Stone

Now a full-time starter at free safety in-place of the injured Marcus Williams, Stone continued to prove his value with a memorable performance. The former seventh-round pick made arguably the biggest play of the game with a red zone interception on Burrow and subsequent 36-yard return in the third quarter.

The Bengals drove 58 yards on their opening drive of the second half and were threatening to either tie the game at 13-13 or take their first lead of the game. Burrow targeted Higgins over the middle of the field on third down and Stone jumped the route perfectly. That play led to a touchdown from the Ravens a few plays later.

Aside from this play, Stone was the defense’s leading tackler on the day with nine total, seven of which were solo. He played a key role in limiting big plays and helping keeping a lid on an explosive Bengals’ passing attack.

Honorable mentions —

Jadeveon Clowney: The veteran edge rusher was the Ravens’ most impactful pass rusher and finished with two quarterback hits, one sack, and a tackle-for-loss. He was a force around the line of scrimmage and in the backfield.

Rock Ya-Sin: Ya-Sin had a crucial pass breakup in coverage of Ja’Marr Chase, where he dislodged a back-shoulder catch in the end zone to prevent a touchdown. He was the most effective cornerback today and did not allow any noticeable big plays.

Zay Flowers: Flowers had a more quiet performance than in the season opener, but his 52-yard deep reception was the biggest offensive play of the game. He gained 68 yards in total on five touches.


Which player gets your vote for game ball recipient from Week 2?

  • 61%
    Lamar Jackson
    (310 votes)
  • 5%
    Gus Edwards
    (29 votes)
  • 10%
    Nelson Agholor
    (52 votes)
  • 20%
    Geno Stone
    (102 votes)
  • 1%
    (10 votes)
503 votes total Vote Now