Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun
The Ravens’ offense can trade blows with the best in the AFC North
Their first drive was their most impressive of the young season, covering 75 yards with five passes and eight runs while eating almost eight minutes of clock. A patient Jackson trusted his offensive line, with Patrick Mekari filling in at left tackle and Sam Mustipher at center, to give him precious seconds to cycle through his reads, and he did not miss.
After a pair of ragged drives ended with no points, the Ravens scored on four straight possessions from early in the second quarter to early in the fourth, refusing to let the Bengals get their noses in front. Aside from a fumble that was wiped out by a Cincinnati penalty, Jackson never looked flustered as he had in the opener against Houston. He read the field adeptly and seized the opportunities available. Sometimes, that meant a spectacular pass, such as his 52-yard strike to rookie Zay Flowers that split two defenders or his lovely 17-yard teardrop to Nelson Agholor for the deciding touchdown. More often it meant a short dump-off to keep a drive moving.
Everyone who has ever worked with Monken says his great gift is making an offense what it needs to be to win in a given week. We saw the Ravens take on different guises as conditions changed Sunday, never wedded to downfield finesse or brute force but capable of either.
Bo Smolka, PressBox
Mike Macdonald remains one step ahead of the Bengals.
In 21 games since the beginning of last season, including the playoffs, the Bengals have been held under 300 yards of total offense just seven times. It has happened all four times the Ravens have faced them in that span under second-year defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.
Macdonald’s defense has consistently frustrated Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, affecting his rhythm and his timing, and led by Roquan Smith, the Ravens have flashed a fast, physical style that exacts a price. Smith is quickly becoming a resounding force in this burgeoning rivalry, something he relishes. He finished with five tackles, and fellow inside linebacker Patrick Queen ranged from sideline to sideline and finished with eight.
Burrow finished 27-for-41 for 222 yards, and the Bengals didn’t record a first down until midway through the second quarter. (They did, though, score before that, on an 81-yard punt return touchdown by Charlie Jones.)
In part because of the Ravens’ ball control, and that punt return score, the Bengals had only seven possessions in the game. Three ended in three-and-outs and one in an interception. In the first half, the Bengals totaled 63 yards, and Burrow completed 8 of 11 passes for a paltry 35 yards.
Burrow and the Bengals did start to find some momentum in the second half, but the Ravens prevented the big play; the longest catch by Chase went for 13 yards, and no receiver had a catch longer than 20.
Luke Jones, Baltimore Positive
Allowing only 17 points on defense, the Ravens kept everything in front of them, leaving Joe Burrow to settle for underneath throws and check-downs and forcing the Bengals to convert third down after third down. By the time Cincinnati finally awoke, the clock was working in Baltimore’s favor.
Such a defensive strategy requires excellent tackling, and the Ravens did that for most of the afternoon. Patrick Queen was all over the place and made multiple open-field stops to continue his excellent start to the season. He’s going to make himself a lot of money this year.
Geno Stone was also a strong tackler and came away with the pivotal goal-line interception that helped turn a potential deficit into a 10-point lead in the third quarter. You’d rather not lose Marcus Williams to injury, but Stone again showed why he’s a high-quality backup Mike Macdonald can trust.
The Ravens have consistently won at a high rate when Jackson is healthy, but Sunday’s performance was as impressive as any victory they’ve had since early in the 2021 season. Beating the Bengals without multiple starters reflects favorably on Baltimore’s toughness and depth. At 0-2, Cincinnati better regroup quickly.
John Breech, CBS Sports
The Ravens set the tone on the game’s opening drive when they took nearly eight minutes off the clock. From there, John Harbaugh’s team played complementary football while taking advantage of the Bengals’ miscues. On offense, the Ravens employed a well-balanced attack that put Lamar Jackson in mostly manageable third-down situations. On defense, Baltimore largely kept Cincinnati’s offense off schedule while often putting Joe Burrow in less than desirable situations.
Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner
Coach John Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference Monday that Williams, who left the Ravens’ season-opening win over the Houston Texans, would not undergo surgery on the chest muscle. An operation likely would have been season ending.
Harbaugh said there was a “vague time frame” for when Williams, one of the NFL’s top ball-hawking safeties, could return, but declined to elaborate. Williams will remain on the active roster, Harbaugh said, and avoid a stint on injured reserve, which would sideline him for four games.
“He’s just rehabbing right now to get himself back on the field,” Harbaugh said.
The Ravens’ pass defense held up well Sunday without Williams and star cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who’s still recovering from minor foot surgery. In a 27-24 win over the Bengals, Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow was limited to 222 yards passing (5.4 yards per attempt), two touchdowns and an interception. Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, who was expected to start opposite Humphrey, is also working his way back to full strength after missing part of training camp with a knee injury.