Written By: Read Xia (@read_xia)
The last time the Ravens beat the Bengals in Cincinnati: 2012
The last time the Ravens shut out a team: 2009
The last time the Ravens shut out the Bengals in Cincinnati: N/A
If you haven't heard already, the Ravens defeated the Bengals today 20-0. Didn't watch? Here's a quick recap of the good and the bad.
The name of the game today was defense. No surprise there as the Ravens have invested heavily on defense this offseason and stood as the best defense in the preseason, but today the Ravens put on a show.
Five turnovers caused by the defense both helped prevent the Bengals from scoring and helped the Ravens score. Although having a quiet day, Patrick Onwuasor had a pass deflection that led to a Brandon Carr interception giving the Ravens great field position. With a strip sack recovered by teammate Michael Pierce and and pass deflection to be picked off by Lardarius Webb, Terrell Suggs was responsible for 2 turnovers, one in the Ravens redzone, and one in the Bengals redzone. A C.J. Mosley interception stopped the Bengals from scoring in the redzone, and a Jimmy Smith interception completed the shut out.
A year off of his achilles injury he suffered in 2015, Suggs preformed like his 2011 self again. Suggs started off the season with 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass deflected, and 1 forced fumble. The Ravens front 7 as a whole continued where they left off last year allowing only 77 rushing yards across the running back trio of Jeremy Hill, Joe Mixon, and Giovani Bernard.
Last year, the Ravens led the league in pass attempts and Joe Flacco hit a career high in passing yards. These stats were mostly caused by the lack of defense, specifically secondary problems, always putting the Ravens in a point deficit forcing the offense to pass. With injury to running back Danny Woodhead early in the game, the Ravens were limited to Javorius "Buck" Allen and Terrance West. As the Ravens held their lead due to the defensive shut out, Allen and West split carries rushing for 71 yards and 80 yards respectively. The majority of the workload happened in the second half where Baltimore was committed to running out the clock. Even though Allen is more of a receiving back, both backs had zero receptions even with the absence of Danny Woodhead. The Ravens are looking to return to ground and pound football in 2017.
Not an impressive performance by Joe Flacco or Andy Dalton this game. Flacco went 9 for 17 with 1 touchdown to 1 interception. Flacco's lone pick was caused by a dropped pass by Terrance West, making Flacco not entirely responsible for the interception. The Ravens limited Flacco's pass attempts not because of the back injury he's been dealing with this season, but because they didn't need to pass. Flacco's touchdown came from a short slant and run for Jeremy Maclin, who turned on the jets taking it to the house on a 48 yard touchdown reception. Though I do wish Flacco took some more shots downfield, I am pleased with his debut after taking zero snaps in preseason.
Dalton went 16 for 31 with 0 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Two of the four interceptions were off pass deflections, the other two were off fantastic reads by the defense. The combination of the Baltimore pass rush and the skeptical Bengal offensive line also didn't help Andy Dalton's quarterback rating (28.4). Dalton was sacked 5 times and hit 3 times throughout the game.
A.J. Green, aka Ravens Kryptonite, stayed quiet. Apart from one large gain of a 27 yard catch and run, the new and healthy Ravens secondary contained Green for only 5 receptions for 74 yards. Overall, the secondary without undrafted rookie Jaylen Hill and second year Sheldon Price held the weapon heavy Bengal offense to 144 passing yards, 221 total yards.
The center position is up for grabs again. With the addition of Luke Bowanko, the Ravens show their doubt in Ryan Jensen by adding depth to the center position. Against the Bengals today, Jensen was called for holding 3 times, negating a couple big plays. As Bowanko is given 1 more week to learn the Ravens offense, I see him taking Jensen's starting role if Jensen doesn't clean up his work.
Danny Woodhead left the game during the Ravens' first offensive drive. Woodhead started the drive with 3 receptions for 33 yards and 1 carry for 4 yards. During a redzone appearance, Woodhead falls to the turf grabbing his hamstring, an injury he has been dealing with throughout the preseason. He is immediately carted off the field and never returned. Even though Woodhead only played for one drive, he leads the Ravens in receptions. Right now, Woodhead's return timetable is unknown, but I promise we will be seeing lots of Flacco to Woodhead check downs this season.
Another key injury occurred to pass rusher Za'Darius Smith. After a big sack in the first quarter, Za'darius Smith found himself in the middle of a pile-up, and carted off the field with a left knee sprain. Smith, a big part of the Ravens pass rush with Terrell Suggs, did not return to the game. The severity of the injury is still unknown.
The Bengals defense is good, but they were without key players Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones. I want to see what Joe Flacco can do against a loaded defense, and with the Browns with the upcoming matchup next week, I can see Marty Mornhinweg calling 40+ rushing attempts again.
In conclusion, there isn't a better way to start off the season.
In contrast for the Bengals, there isn't a worse way to start off the season.