GOOD BAD & UGLY: Ravens 34, Bengals 20

Bengals at Ravens

It seemed like the old days at The Bank. The atmosphere was electric. Adrenalin raced through the veins of 72,000+ like a freight train while anticipating a pivotal divisional showdown between the Ravens and the Bengals. For the black-attired crowd dressed appropriately for the “Darkness” theme, hopes were answered as the Ravens delivered, keeping the team atop the AFC North, and perhaps obliterating any chance of a Cincinnati “three-peat” in 2023.

Yet the storyline for the game isn’t necessarily its outcome, but more about the collateral damage. The Ravens lost Mark Andrews for the year while the Bengals suffered the season-ending loss of their franchise quarterback – the $275M man, Joe Burrow.

The loss of Andrews is massive. The Ravens, specifically Lamar Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Monken, will be forced to adjust. We’ll hear “next man up” but it won’t be easy replacing an All-Pro TE, one who is the Scottie Pippen to Lamar’s, Michael Jordan. But this season, the Ravens are more equipped to handle the significant setback given the expanded talent in the wide receiver room. And the next men up, Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar, are both talented, albeit unproven. Monken may have to adjust his approach in the red zone, sans Andrews.


• The win moved the Ravens to an NFL-best 20-3 at home in primetime since 2008, including 9-2 against the AFC North.

• Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 16-6 in primetime vs. the AFC North, winning five of their last six divisional primetime contests.

• Baltimore has won five of their last six primetime games and eight of their last 10 on Thursday Night Football. Three of the Ravens next four games will be primetime affairs.

• The Ravens are a perfect 8-0 all time at home on Thursday Night Football, including 5-0 vs. AFC North foes.

• This marks the fourth time in Ravens history that they are 8-3 after 11 games of a season, also reaching that record in 2010, 2011 and 2021.

• The Ravens have rushed for at least 100 yards in 27 straight games, marking the NFL’s longest active streak. (ATL, CLE & NYG have the second-longest streaks at five games.)

• Baltimore has scored at least 30 points in each of the last five weeks, tying a franchise-long streak set in 2019. It also marks the NFL’s longest such active streak.


Baltimore gained 405 yards of offense, including 157 rushing. The Ravens scored TDs on 3-of-4 red zone trips and were a perfect 2-for-2 on goal-to-go situations…Lamar was 16 of 26 for 264 yards and two TD’s, producing a passer rating of 121.3. He also ran for 54 yards and did a terrific job of buying time to properly set and throw, particularly in the first half when the Ravens O-line struggled. Lamar distributed the ball well, hitting receivers in stride while under pressure, enabling significant YAC.

Jackson also protected the football as did the team. A game without turnovers is a game that the Ravens will almost always win.

After a sluggish start, Gus Edwards eventually got it into gear as The Bus’ torque started moving north and south. Gus finished with a pair of scores and 62 yards on 12 carries (5.2 YPA)…While Gus’ wheels found traction, Keaton Mitchell’s spun out a few times, losing footing and yards. He did manage 33 yards on 8 carries (4.1 YPA) including a 21-yard scamper. He can make a house call at any time and that pressures a defense, something the Ravens will need without Andrews. Mitchell’s speed was on full display when Zay Flowers took a perfectly executed bubble screen the distance (well, perfect to everyone but the zebras). Mitchell helped escort Flowers into the end zone for a would-be touchdown. Note the body language of Bengals CB Chidobe Awuzie (No. 22) on this play. He doesn’t act the part of a player who has been held.

To the Ravens credit, their resolve didn’t weaken on the drive that was initially sabotaged by an official’s incompetence. Instead, the drive was given a lift by the football gods who provided a dose of equitability. A tipped pass conveniently landed in the waiting arms of Nelson Agholor who accepted the gift and scampered in for a 37-yard score…Rashod Bateman did a nice job of working back to his quarterback in the red zone, providing Lamar a throwing window for a 10-yard scoring strike.

Odell Beckham, Jr. was terrific. He had 116 yards on four catches including a 51-yarder when the Ravens held a 27-13 lead. He adjusted brilliantly while the ball was in flight and adeptly navigated the Bengals secondary to add YAC. He also showed a burst on a slant from Lamar and surgically worked the boundaries with laser-like precision. And regardless of what the side judge determined was holding, OBJ was a willing and effective blocker when called upon. Two weeks ago, I was ready to write off Beckham as a $15M mistake. On Thursday night we all witnessed the vision that DeCosta had for OBJ in Monken’s offense. Now, with Andrews down, they’ll need it more than ever moving forward in 2023.

One of the more understated benefits that Mark Andrews provides, is his in-line blocking ability. That’s where Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar will need to step up in Andrews’ absence. It would surprise no one if GM Eric DeCosta dials up TE Eric Tomlinson once again, to help fill that role. That said, Likely had a terrific combo block on a crosser to Flowers, single-handedly taking out two Bengals defenders… Monken could also task Pat Ricard with additional responsibilities to help fill the void. Ricard is such a unicorn, and his combination of size, strength and athleticism might help Monken cut his losses. Ricard made a terrific block to cave in the left side of the Bengals defense to spring Edwards for a 26-yard run.

Tyler Linderbaum and Morgan Moses were the best across the Ravens offensive front, a unit that improved as the game went on. Linderbaum is relentless and plays through the whistle. Like a heat-seeking missile, the 2nd-year center engages, disengages when he takes one player out of a play, and then looks to do damage to a second. Linderbaum’s nimbleness belies his physical stature…

I often remind myself that DeCosta successfully signed both Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy for less than the Ravens are paying Devin Duvernay – COMBINED! Clowney added another sack, pushing his seasonal total to 6 ½. Van Noy, despite being nicked up, had a sack (his 6th), a TFL and a hurry…Justin Madubuike added yet another sack, pushing his seasonal total to 9 ½, tops in the league among interior defenders…Baltimore’s 44 sacks rank No. 1 in the NFL and mark the most through 11 games of a season in franchise history. Moreover, the Ravens have recorded at least 1 sack in 32 consecutive games and multiple sacks in 10 consecutive games, with each marking the NFL’s longest active such streak.

If you’ve labeled Odafe Oweh, a first-round bust, it might be time for a serving of humble pie. The athleticism has always been there, but Odafe was raw. However, under the tutelage of Chuck Smith, Oweh has blossomed. After bouncing back from a high ankle sprain, he’s had 4 sacks over the last 5 games. His relentlessness is often responsible for disrupting opponent’s plays, even without the statistical credit. He abused Orlando Brown, Jr. most of the night. Ironically (sort of), the Ravens used the pick acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for Brown, to select Oweh.

Tavius Robinson looks to be a player on the ascent. He possesses a high motor and fights with his hands. You have to like the way that Mike Macdonald utilized Tavius as an interior rusher during a stunt. Players with his determination and speed are poor matchups for more rigid interior linemen, particularly those a step or two out of position…Brent Urban showed nice read-and-react skills when peeling off the LOS to make a tackle outside the numbers on a bubble screen to Tyler Boyd.

All three of the Ravens safeties had solid outings. Marcus Williams, although not quite 100%, was far more effective as a tackler and showed great instincts during a couple of passes defensed (PD’s)…Kyle Hamilton just finds various ways to make plays whether at the LOS or in the intermediate secondary. He had a couple of nice PD’s as well…Geno Stone is Johnny-on-the-Spot and despite his snap count dropping, he shows up. His excellent instincts and closing speed were on display when he blew up a bubble screen intended for Ja’Marr Chase…Ronald Darby did a very nice job filling in for the injured Marlon Humphrey. The Oxon Hill, MD native is a vastly better option than Rock Ya-Sin. Darby’s PD at the 5-yard line on a 3rd-and-5 from the Ravens 8 was an exhibit of textbook technique. It forced the Bengals to settle for three making the score 21-13.


The Ravens offensive line struggled early, particularly swingman Patrick Mekari, subbing for the oft-injured Ronnie Stanley. Drawing the tough assignment of Trey Hendrickson, Mekari was beaten to the punch early by the ultra-active Bengals edge defender. Not sure if Mekari blew an assignment or if the play was poorly schemed, but Hendrickson off the edge unabated to the tailback just isn’t going to have a positive outcome. He dropped Mitchell for a loss of 5. If there was ever a play that was DOA, this was it…John Simpson was flagged for holding two times, tilting the down-and-distance advantage towards the Bengals.

Photo Credit: Patrick Smith, Getty Images

The Ravens interior defensive line looked tired from the jump. They were pushed off the ball regularly, and none of the defenders required double-teaming, allowing the Bengals O-linemen to navigate to the second level where they created problems for Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith, the latter of which had arguably his weakest game as a member of the Ravens…Apparently Thursday games don’t agree with Michael Pierce. As dominant as he’s been at times, particularly against the Cardinals, he was an absolute nothingburger v. the Bengals. The same can be said about Travis Jones who for my money, hasn’t been the player that the Ravens scouting staff was all excited about when they drafted him out of U Conn…

The Ravens extended Broderick Washington before the season. That’s an indication of a player the Ravens see value in. Yet he was a healthy scratch? Has that ever happened before? Urban isn’t much at the point of attack. He’s a player who pursues well and can bat down a pass, maybe give you an occasional sack, but as a run defender he’s nothing more than average. Relative to past seasons, that IDL rotation is rather weak and their collective inability to eat up blockers and win first down has put the Ravens defense in the unenviable position of far too many 2nd-and-4 situations which opens up the opponent’s playbook and keeps the defense on its heels. Better call Suh!


The Ravens were penalized 9 times for 110 yards…Oweh had 2 penalties that aided the Bengals cause – a face-masking 15-yarder that added to a first down and helped set up Cincinnati’s first points and later a hands-to-the-face foul…The Ya-Sin pass interference call for 34 yards to the Ravens 13 yard line gifted the Bengals 3 points. Ya-Sin was replaced by Darby who helped end the drive. Ever since training camp, it was very apparent that Ya-Sin struggled beyond 20 yards of the LOS. That hasn’t changed. His technique was that of Frankenstein playing pin-the-tail on the donkey. Jalyn Armour-Davis should jump ahead of the sinking Rock on the depth chart.


After a terrible divisional loss to the Browns, credit John Harbaugh and his staff for having the Ravens mentally and physically ready to take this all-important game. A few other coaches are also worthy of note.

Todd Monken adjusted after the loss of Andrews and spread the ball around to his receivers while getting the ground game going after a sluggish first half. Added credit has to go to O-line coach Joe D’Alessandris too, who got his unit back on track after getting whipped early in the game both on the ground and when passing. And last but not least, credit goes to Mike Macdonald who clamped down on the Bengals big play ability, something he’s done against Cincinnati since he took the reins as the team’s DC.


During the offseason, the Ravens had some concerns about their depth at cornerback. Eric DeCosta nearly landed Darius Slay. There were rumors of a Marcus Peters return. A first-round corner selection would have surprised no one. But unwilling to be placed in a position where need dictates a 1st-round pick, DeCosta opted for Rock Ya-Sin. Unknown to everyone, the best corner available to the Ravens not named Marlon Humphrey was already on their roster – a player who started his college career as a running back at UCLA and later transferred to SMU where he changed positions. Of course I’m talking about Brandon Stephens.

Coming into the game, the Bengals would be without Tee Higgins. Tyler Boyd, a slot WR, would be the responsibility of Hamilton and Arthur Maulet, amongst others. On the outside would be Stephens and a reserve corner, responsible for controlling the dangerous pitch-and-catch combo of Burrow and Chase. The only way the Bengals could win the game was by winning the turnover battle or Chase igniting some fireworks. Stephens was up for the challenge and then some. He is largely responsible for limiting Ja’Marr to 12 yards on two catches. Even if you didn’t see the game or the final score, a box score showing such pedestrian stats next to Chase’s name would be your first clue that the Bengals lost.


The crowd at The Bank was a throwback to the franchise’s heyday years. It was electric from the start thanks in large part to liquid-infused tailgate parties and an outstanding presentation from stadium operations. Just an absolutely awesome ensemble of music, pyrotechnics, lights and video montages.

The heightened spirit made for an outstanding 12th man as the Bengals offense was regularly disrupted, as evidenced by multiple false starts, forced timeouts and failed pre-snap communications.


Eighteen penalties for 188 yards. That’s a lot of laundry. And a few were egregiously inappropriate. The bad calls went both ways. Chief crew Adrian Hill is a Washington, DC native who lives in Bowie, MD and is an aerospace software engineer during the day, at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Hill should probably find a new hobby while day-jobbing as a rocket science.


Joe Flacco worked out for the Browns yesterday to replace the roster slot vacated by Deshaun Watson. What if Joe gets the job and leads the Browns into Baltimore for a Divisional Game?

While at the game there were a couple of stoppages. The first we all thought had to do with John Harbaugh vehemently objecting to the holding call on OBJ. The second time, we thought there were problems with the lights, which stadium operations turned off a time or two during TV timeouts as part of the Darkness theme. Instead, Referee Hill was concerned about the drone. Perhaps his aerospace background at work?

Ravens v. Chargers

The Ravens will take a few days off before prepping for the LA Chargers beginning Tuesday. The Chargers travel to Green Bay this weekend for a 1PM kickoff. The Ravens have won four of the last five regular season games against the Chargers.

The post GOOD BAD & UGLY: Ravens 34, Bengals 20 appeared first on Russell Street Report.

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GOOD BAD & UGLY: Ravens 34, Bengals 20

Author: Tony Lombardi

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