Ravens Advance to 2-0 in Week Two Win Over Bengals
RAVENS ADVANCE TO 2-0 IN WEEK TWO WIN OVER BENGALS – So that’s why you bring in Todd Monken… After a shaky week one showing in which the Ravens’ offense was sloppy, careless, and disjointed, they bounced back with a stellar performance on Sunday.
Welcome Back, Jack
No one looked more improved from week one to two than Lamar Jackson.
In the passing game, he was obviously more comfortable playing in structure. His decisiveness was the greatest area of improvement. Despite being without his starting center and left tackle, Jackson avoided taking a single sack.
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The O-line deserves their flowers for keeping him upright, but Jackson’s ability to get the ball out of his hands and effectively evade the Bengals’ rush was key in keeping the Ravens’ offense on schedule.
The 52-yard laser to Zay Flowers was arguably the best throw of his career. Jackson recognized the Bengals’ cover 3, saw the middle third defender bite on a crossing route, and delivered a 65-yard frozen rope into the vacated zone in between two Cincinnati defenders.
Jackson excelled on the ground as well. His 54 yards rushing isn’t an astounding total, but the timeliness of his scrambles stood out. His 12-yard run on 3rd-and-6 on the game’s final drive deflated the crowd and halted Cincinnati’s momentum. He left some yards on the field on some deep misses early, but you can’t really complain about a 72.73% completion percentage.
The Supporting Cast
Jackson was the star, but the rest of this Ravens offense allowed their QB to shine.
The deep ball to Flowers doesn’t happen without the pass protection maintaining a picturesque pocket for almost four seconds.
Lamar’s perfect game-winning pass only materialized because Agholar won on his release and created ample vertical separation. That play also signifies how this team has improved from a season ago.
There’s so much talent in the receiver room now that the Ravens can lose Odell Beckham for the game and not miss a beat. The compelling part of the passing game’s success is that it isn’t coming at the expense of the run game.
Baltimore’s offense was incredibly balanced, rushing 52.9% of plays, and passing 47.1% of the time. The run game yielded 178 yards, with an average of 4.8 yards per carry, which is very solid given such a high volume.
Their ability to pick up first downs on the ground in short-yardage situations allowed them to be more aggressive on earlier downs. We may not have a complete picture of this offense yet, but this performance put the league on notice.
It was an ideal start for both sides of the ball.
The offense roared 75 yards down the field on the opening drive of the game and the defense followed up by forcing a Bengals three-and-out.
That series set the tone for what was a dominant first half for the Ravens’ defense.
They allowed only three points — Cincinnati’s sole first-half touchdown came on special teams – and held Joe Burrow to a measly 35 yards passing.
But calf injury or not, Joe Burrow and those Bengals receivers can only be held in check for so long. And sure enough, Cincy started feeling themselves. Late in the third quarter, Burrow spotted 6-foot-4 Tee Higgins manned up against 5-foot-8 Ar’Darius Washington in the endzone.
Higgins unsurprisingly won that matchup, and the Bengals cut the lead to three. But Baltimore’s defense regained their composure on the following Bengals drive, forcing a third Bengals three-and-out. It’s no secret the Ravens’ secondary is a weakness, but to this point, they’ve been better than the sum of their parts.
Baltimore’s D-line put on a solid performance and the linebackers were excellent, per usual.
John Harbaugh called it a “consummate team win” and I concur.
The Ravens are one of two undefeated teams in the AFC and appear to be a contender. It’s easy to discredit this victory by attributing it to the Bengals’ slow start and Joe Burrow’s injury, but Baltimore has had their own injury troubles to overcome.
The Ravens have proved they can find a way to win in the absence of elite players, but a midseason reinforcement of a Pro Bowl-level tackle, center, safety, and corner could help them separate in a packed AFC.