On Thursday night time, the Bengals have been on the verge of blowing a 21-point benefit, however held on for an essential divisional 34-23 win that pushed their report to 2-0 and gave them a lead within the AFC North — a lead that they’re going to dangle onto till a minimum of Week 3.
4 days after Rodgers led the Packers to , the Ravens had their likelihood to one-up the Packers. Towards the Bengals, the Ravens fell into an early 21-Zero gap, however proceeded to slowly claw their method again into the sport. Getting loads of assist from the Bengals alongside the way in which, the Ravens took two steps ahead, one step again, three steps ahead, two steps again, and one other step ahead once more till they practically ran down a staff that was simply asking to get caught. Ultimately, they simply could not make up sufficient floor in time as a result of they are not a adequate staff to do one thing like that.
At halftime, they trailed 28-14 after scoring a last-second landing earlier than the break. At first of the fourth quarter, they trailed by 11. With underneath 10 minutes remaining within the recreation, the deficit shrank to 5 factors. However that is when progress stopped. The Bengals offense lastly pieced collectively a fourth-quarter drive, kicking a discipline purpose to place themselves up by eight factors after draining six-and-a-half minutes earlier than letting their protection feast on a quarterback who struggled for the whole lot of the night time.
Flacco is not Rodgers, and the Bengals’ protection acquired a cease the Bears’ protection could not:
The Bengals would kick a discipline purpose to place away the sport and they walked away with a win that ought to’ve been a blowout, however was a nail-biter. Nevertheless it’s a win nonetheless.
Andy Dalton and A.J. Green mixed for 3 touchdowns. Dalton threw 4 touchdowns in all. The Bengals protection put the Ravens in a gap early with a pair stops and an interception. After wanting like Elite Joe Flacco in opposition to the Payments, Joe Flacco went again to wanting like Regular Joe Flacco. He threw an early choose that put the Ravens in an preliminary gap, threw one other choose within the second half, fumbled away the Ravens’ final likelihood late within the recreation, and was fairly frankly fortunate to complete the night time with solely these three turnovers.
Week 2 is barely simply starting, however in a 17-week season, divisional showdowns within the NFL can typically really feel like playoff sort of video games no matter once they’re written into the calendar. The 2 groups don’t love one another. Each entered the sport with 1-Zero information. Do not be shocked in the event that they’re preventing one another for a wild-card spot come December. Once more, it is early, however contemplating each groups are located in the identical division because the Steelers, who someway tied the lowly Browns in Week 1, this was as massive as Week 2 video games get.
For a half, the Bengals regarded like a reliable risk popping out of the AFC. Dalton and Green have been unstoppable. The protection made Flacco seem like, effectively, Flacco. Their offensive line, bolstered by rookie middle Billy Value (who left injured) and left deal with Cordy Glenn, protected Dalton. Joe Mixon regarded electrical at instances. The defensive position, with Geno Atkins, Carl Lawson, and Carlos Dunlap, acquired after Flacco. After which, the Bengals went again to wanting like simply one other staff earlier than barely hanging on for a win.
The factor is, there was sufficient there within the first half for the Bengals to be optimistic about their outlook. A 2-Zero begin issues. Even when the Steelers beat the Chiefs on Sunday, the Bengals will maintain a divisional lead heading into Week 3. No person thinks the Bengals are a powerhouse, however the AFC is a convention that might ship an 8-Eight or 9-7 staff because the second wild card. The Bengals are definitely in that blend together with the Ravens, and they simply beat the Ravens. That issues. If the Steelers drop a losable recreation to the Chiefs and the Browns do what they usually do in opposition to the Saints, the Bengals will maintain a 1 half of recreation lead within the division. That additionally issues.
From the opposite facet of the sector, it is tough to be optimistic about these Ravens. Sure, they beat the Payments 47-Three in Week 1, however the Payments may be the worst staff in soccer. After the primary quarter, I used to be ready to start this text by declaring how unhealthy this Payments staff should be in the event that they misplaced by 44 factors to those Ravens, however the Ravens managed to make the sport aggressive sufficient that they wiped away that model of the article. So, a minimum of they have that going for them.
For the zillionth time, it is solely Week 2. It is nonetheless early for us to know that a lot about these groups. However the Bengals and Ravens have been at all times alleged to be battling for a playoff spot, caught in the identical tier of middling AFC groups. The Bengals received that battle on Thursday night time and within the course of, they have been the one staff to indicate glimpses of greatness. The win issues. And the staff we noticed for the primary 30 minutes would possibly matter too.
Learn on for seven extra takeaways from the sport.
1. Dalton and Green come out firing
Historically, primetime video games are a nightmare for Dalton. The Bengals entered the night time with a 5-14 report in primetime with Dalton as their quarterback, in response to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Any person should’ve satisfied Dalton that the night time sky was nothing greater than a mirage, as a result of Dalton performed out of his thoughts within the first half.
In all, he accomplished 24 of 42 passes for 265 yards, 4 touchdowns, no picks, and an 107.7 passer ranking. It wasn’t all Dalton. The Bengals’ offensive explosion was simply as a lot about Green. By the 13:02 mark of the second quarter, Dalton and Green had already mixed for 3 touchdowns, singlehandedly constructing a 21-Zero lead.
Dalton’s night time acquired began with a near-pick in the long run zone that was overturned after a quick assessment demonstrated that Eric Weddle’s second foot stepped out of bounds, however he cashed in on the additional alternative, getting the scoring began with a four-yard landing to Green.
Kudos to offensive coordinator Invoice Lazor for the play-design. Clearly, the Ravens have been going to be keyed in on Mixon, so Lazor went with misdirection off play-action. Dalton rolling out gave him method an excessive amount of time to search out an open goal and let’s face it, it is not possible to protect a receiver of Green’s caliber for that lengthy.
P.S. Steve Sarkisian would possibly wanna steal that play for the Falcons.
On the subsequent sequence, Dalton and Green attached once more to increase the result in 14 factors with a tight-window throw in visitors that Green went as much as seize earlier than exploding for some severe YAC.
Again to the Falcons comparability:
The Bengals have been completely rolling. That landing completed off a five-play, 80-yard drive.
After a fast cease, the Bengals acquired the ball again and began marching in opposition to the Ravens. They acquired some assist alongside the way in which — a Terrell Suggs penalty prolonged their drive within the crimson zone — earlier than Dalton and Green attached once more for the first-half hat-trick.
Green had by no means caught three touchdowns in a single recreation earlier than, however he wanted 17 minutes to do it in opposition to the Ravens. These have been his solely three catches of the sport, by the way in which, till the final minute of the third quarter when he lastly hauled in a catch that did not end in six factors. He completed with 5 catches for 69 yards. So, it was a fairly growth or bust night time for Green, however there was loads of growth.
The Ravens simply could not cease the Bengals on third down. After they trimmed the result in 14 factors with a landing of their very own, they let the Bengals drive proper again down the sector, changing a pair third-and-longs alongside the way in which, till Dalton threw his fourth landing go of the primary half. This one went to Tyler Boyd, who beat his man beneath in protection and snuck into the tip zone earlier than the protection excessive may get to him.
In response to ESPN Stats & Information, Thursday was the second time Dalton’s thrown 4 touchdowns in a half and it was his first time doing so for the reason that 2013 season. It might be his final landing of the sport, nonetheless.
At halftime, the Bengals led 28-14. It ought to’ve been 28-0, however the Bengals dropped two passes that ought to’ve been picked, which led to 2 Ravens touchdowns.
When the second half began, the Bengals misplaced all of their effectiveness. They could not actually run the ball. Green stopped catching touchdowns. They let the Ravens again into the sport. Fortunately for the Bengals, the Ravens weren’t in any respect environment friendly about their comeback, bumbling round till they someway closed the deficit to 5 factors. Lastly, the Bengals’ offense pieced collectively a drive — the type of drive the Bears’ offense so desperately wanted on Sunday night time.
Up 5, they took possession with just below 10 minutes to go. They did not relinquish possession till they’d burned six-and-a-half minutes off the sport clock and kicked a brief discipline purpose to increase their result in eight factors, which meant the Ravens wanted a landing and a two-point conversion to increase the sport. Flacco fumbled as an alternative, the Bengals kicked a discipline purpose, and the sport ended quickly after.
2. Flacco’s nightmare
Flacco often hates taking part in in Cincinnati as a lot as Dalton hates taking part in in primetime. Earlier than Thursday night time, Flacco had thrown 19 touchdowns and 23 interceptions for a 72.Three passer ranking in his profession in opposition to the Bengals. His most-recent efficiency will not assist these numbers.
Flacco completed 32 of 55 for 376 yards, two touchdowns, two picks, and a 76.Zero passer ranking. He was sacked 4 instances and misplaced a fumble. He missed open receivers for many of the night time. His best technique of assault was chucking deep balls downfield and hoping for pass-interference penalties. Within the course of he was lucky the Bengals did not catch two of these passes, with each of these dropped picks approaching drives that ended with Ravens touchdowns.
Not each Bengals defensive participant dropped the ball. On the Ravens’ second sequence, Jessie Bates picked off Flacco. In response to NFL Analysis, just one quarterback, Eli Manning, has thrown extra picks than Flacco since 2013.
By the tip of the primary quarter, Flacco had extra sacks than completions.
Flacco’s prayers have been answered within the second quarter when his 45-yard floater to John Brown in triple protection someway wasn’t picked, which led to the Ravens lastly scoring on a Buck Allen landing run that happy the entire Alex Collins Fantasy homeowners in every single place.
On the Ravens’ second scoring drive simply earlier than halftime, a Flacco deep ball was dropped once more by a Bengals defensive again. 4 performs later, Flacco acquired bailed out by a ticky-tacky pass-interference penalty that netted 30 yards and arrange the Ravens on the 1-yard line.
And that is when Flacco threw his first landing of the sport. Give him some credit score for eluding the frenzy — which was in his face for many of the night time — and creating one thing out of nothing. If he will get sacked, the clock expires and the Ravens path by 21 factors at halftime. However Flacco did not get sacked. He threw a landing as an alternative.
The Bengals’ drive chart within the second half regarded like this:
However that did not matter a lot when the Ravens’ drive chart within the second half regarded like this:
- Finish of recreation
Let’s give the Ravens some credit score for that landing, as a result of it was particular:
The Ravens had their probabilities to win this recreation, as a result of the Bengals offense stopped shifting the ball within the second half. However they misplaced as a result of they do not have an offense that is adequate to do the sorts of issues that Rodgers does. In that sense, this loss is not totally on Flacco. The way in which the protection began put the Ravens in a gap they have been by no means going to climb out of. It is not acceptable to surrender 28 factors in a single half.
However the Ravens deserve blame for not making the most of their many alternatives to get again into the sport. The unlucky reality is, with Joe Flacco they are not adequate to mount gigantic come-from-behind wins.
3. Bengals’ defensive position is filthy
Once more, do not simply blame Flacco. He was underneath duress for a lot of the night time.
It must be mentioned that the Bengals’ defensive entrance is horrifying and among the many finest models within the AFC. Atkins, Lawson, and Dunlap all acquired after Flacco. Atkins completed with two sacks, Lawson had one quarterback hit, and Dunlap had one hit and three batted passes. The Bengals’ protection missed out on a number of alternatives to deliver down Flacco, however they did power that final fumble along with a third-quarter choose.
They need to proceed to torment opposing quarterbacks within the video games and
4. Bengals’ backfield is a handful
Mixon may be the league’s subsequent nice working again, however Giovani Bernard may be the most effective backups. Towards a protection that ranked ninth in opposition to the run final season, Mixon rushed for 84 yards on 21 carries whereas Bernard went for 27 yards on six carries. Put collectively, the duo mixed for 111 yards on the bottom.
The Bengals’ depth is essential. It is essential that they’ll use each backs without delay and it is essential as a result of it offers them an honest insurance coverage coverage within the occasion Mixon goes down. He went down twice in the course of the recreation with knee accidents, returning each instances. His well being is value monitoring shifting ahead, however the Bengals can relaxation simple realizing that they’ve a reliable backup able to shoulder the load.
5. Ravens lose C.J. Mosley to bone bruise
Within the first quarter, three-time Professional Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley acquired carted off with a knee harm. At halftime, the staff introduced that he suffered a bone bruise.
Since 2014, Mosley has missed solely two potential video games and he is racked up 332 solo tackles, eight sacks, and eight interceptions in that span. It is not simply that he is essential to the Ravens. 2018 can be crucial season of Mosley’s profession as a result of he is scheduled to turn out to be a free agent within the offseason. The excellent news for each staff and participant is that they get 10 days off till their subsequent recreation.
6. Bengals lose Billy Value to ankle harm
The Bengals additionally misplaced an essential starter within the first half. Rookie middle Billy Value left the sport early on and was dominated out originally of the third quarter with an ankle harm. He emerged out of the locker room sporting a boot.
Value, drafted No. 21 total, was anticipated to improve an offensive line that ranked 24th as a run-blocking unit and 20th in go safety final season, per Soccer Outsiders. Just like the Ravens, the Bengals do a minimum of get 10 days off till their subsequent recreation.
7. What’s subsequent
No staff enjoys the quick week that comes with a Thursday night time recreation, however the reward is a mini bye week. The Ravens (1-1) and Bengals (2-0) each will not play once more till Sept 23, when the Ravens host the Broncos and the Bengals head to Carolina to tackle the Panthers. These are two winnable, however powerful video games in opposition to groups that includes powerful defenses and probably explosive working video games.