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5 Takeaways: Bengals vs. Ravens

1. Ravens struggle to close- What a crazy finish to an ugly game. The Ravens didn’t even eclipse 200 yards of offense today, while it felt like the Bengals turned the ball over on almost every play. The Ravens went into the fourth quarter with a 17-3 lead and were unable to close the game out. Granted, they had the game all but locked up until A.J. Green came down with a pop fly that safety James Ihedigbo set him up for. They had held quarterback Andy Dalton in check all game, but were unable to execute on a play that rarely ever occurs. It is unfortunate that this play happened because the defense played a stellar game up until that point, but they were able to stuff the Bengals on their sole overtime possession when Cincinnati went for it on fourth and two. It was frustrating to see this game go into overtime, but at the end of the day the Ravens won a huge divisional game, and that is all they needed.

2. Quarterbacks look bad- Both Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton didn’t play well at all today. They both were sacked on many occasions and threw some horrible interceptions. Both of Flacco’s interceptions could’ve been avoided if he had taken the sack on the first one, and if he were able to read the coverage better. Dalton overthrew his receivers on two of his interceptions, while cornerback Lardarius Webb made a nice play on another one. Neither quarterback was close to even completing 60% of their passes. Flacco hasn’t been playing that well all season in the first place, so this isn’t that big of a surprise, but the Bengals have to be worried about Dalton going forward. He looked awful for the first three quarters of this game and was lucky to even send this game into overtime. Flacco, too, will have to pick his game up, or they won’t be able to win games like these again.

3. Secondary bounces back- This week I talked a lot about how the secondary has struggled recently. They answered the call today, playing their best coverage of the season. Jimmy Smith and Webb made countless plays, swatting balls away and not giving up any big plays. A.J. Green’s stat line looks nice but if you take away the hail mary, as well as another big gain where Ihedigbo tipped it up in the air, Green didn’t make that big of an impact on the game. Ihedigbo came up with two huge interceptions and didn’t let anyone get behind him. It also didn’t hurt that the pass rush was at its best today and tipped a lot of balls at the line of scrimmage. Hopefully this unit can build off of a game like this and continue to improve. They will have to play at this level as long as the offense plays this inconsistently.

4. Opposite day- For the first time since week one, the Ravens were able to score a touchdown in the first quarter. Not only that, but the team put up 17 points in the first half, which is the most they have scored all season in the first 30 minutes of any game. It was a nice change for Ravens fans and it appeared that they were going to blow out the Bengals because the team has been a solid second half team. The Ravens, however, didn’t score a point in the second half, and the offense was unable to put the game away. The team got a win today, but they still have yet to put together 60 minutes of excellent football. It is nice to see the team have a lead for once, but now they need to keep their foot on the pedal and continue scoring. The defense played great for the majority of the game, but they can’t be expected to be that stellar week in and week out. This is a start, but the team needs to be able to score at any point in the game.

5. What has happened to Ray Rice- This week there was a lot of talk about Ray Rice. Was he injured? Has he slowed down? Is the offensive line holding him back? Most of us believed that it was a mixture of health and the offensive line, but after today’s performance I have my concerns about the running back. The line isn’t opening up many holes, but we saw backup Bernard Pierce make a couple plays because he made people miss. The play that sums up Rice this season came on a dump down pass to him in overtime and picked up the first down, but was unable to make one guy miss in open field. He had the defensive back one on one and couldn’t get by him. That sounds nothing like the old Ray Rice. Rice has made a living off of constantly making people miss in the open field. He has been unable to break any tackles for that matter and that is alarming. Maybe he is really injured. Maybe the offensive line isn’t getting the job done, but at a certain point a player of his caliber is able to break out despite all those problems. He hasn’t done it once this season and that is what is starting to scare a lot of people. Rice knows all eyes are on him these days and he is clearly frustrated with his play also. He is a leader on this team and there are big expectations for him. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem like we will be seeing anything special from him this season.

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2 Responses to “5 Takeaways: Bengals vs. Ravens”

  1. Robin says:

    Maybe the Ravens will be lucky a second year in a row and stumble in to the playoffs. However, most folks don’t win the big lottery payoff twice. In other words.. Long shot.

  2. Gayle Levy says:

    Just posted to you on Facebok. Love your column. All the sports gurus at the Sunpapers picked the Bengals to win.
    Ha, Ha, Ha, who has the last laugh now?

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