It seems like a bad move to expect a blow out in an AFC North matchup given how well each team seems to play the other across the division, but not going to lie, I was actually expecting to whoop the Bengals.
It wasn’t an ugly win the way last week was, but it just seemed to feel underwhelming. Let’s break it down.
The Ravens were ball hogs in this contest. They won the possession battle 39:42 to 20:18, ran 22 more offensive plays and had almost double the offensive yards.
Still though, the Ravens struggled to convert drives into 6 points after scoring on their first two drives. Three FGs covered the remainder of the points after that. This is something the offense has struggled with and it’s not great to see it being a trend.
Jackson on Jackson: A-
Today Lamar Jackson became the only player in the Super Bowl era to run for 150+ yards and pass for 200+ yards. His legs were crucial to start the game and answer the Bengals opening kickoff return for a touchdown. Lamar had a run for 36 yards, which set up a 21-yard touchdown run.
The Coordinators wrote last week about the issues in the passing game. Lamar answered on a few of them, including spreading the ball around with completions to nine different players (including four of the five active WRs), went through his progressions much better and showed more poise in the pocket. He protected the ball, and even though there were some misses, it was a strong day through the air.
Running back: A-
Many of you have been waiting for Justice Hill to really make a mark on the game, and while it wasn’t a massive breakout, there were some of those flashes that Ravens fans were hoping to see. In particular, using Hill to get the ball to the edges was a big success. As The Coordinators series has shown, the Ravens have been strong running the ball outside with Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr., so hopefully this sets the tone moving forward.
Mark Ingram continues to reward fantasy owners by finding paydirt and he also rewards Ravens fans who love the strong running style and old school ‘play like a Raven’ mentality. Gus Edwards broke a big run and showed why he’s a piece of the committee.
Wide Receiver: B
With Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown out, the other WRs stepped up. As mentioned, it wasn’t a big day for the passing offense in terms of quantity, but a few guys showed made some high-quality plays, which is encouraging as I continue to hope their workload ramps up. Miles Boykin pulled in two of his three targets, including a really nice 18-yard gain. One of my biggest gripes of this game is he didn’t get more targets after making a big play.
Seth Roberts also had a really nice catch and showed off his ability to run crossing routes. I know fellow RSR colleague, Adam Bonaccorsi (that last name is a nightmare to spell) will sleep well knowing that he even got a shout out.
Offensive Line: B-
Overall, it was a strong performance from the offensive line. The Bengals relied on blitzes to get pressure and stacked the box quite heavily to slow down the rushing attack. Stanley continues his all-pro level, Matt Skura has stacked a few solid games and Marshal Yanda looks like a snowplow (had to sneak a Canadian reference in).
So, what was the blemish on a solid performance? Bradley Bozeman became essentially a liability with numerous false start penalties that cost the Ravens momentum. I suggest that they take a marker into the huddle and just write the snap count on Booze’s wrist so that he won’t forget.
Tight Ends: B-
Breaking news: The 12 days of Christmas will rename the lyrics from the 11 lords of a-leaping to the three tight ends a-leaping!
Okay, terrible dad joke, but hey it comes with the territory of being a dad, right?
Let’s just hope that today is that last time that a Ravens tight end tries to hurdle a defender. I know it’s cool to see, but the cost of risking a bad landing or fumbling does not outweigh the benefit of gaining a few yards. Today Mark Andrews drove his own knee into the ball and into the other team’s hands. It’s just not disciplined football, but we’ve seen it from all three tight ends this year.
That said, Andrews was the best pass-catcher and Boyle and Hurst made a few nice catches. Solid day for the group.
Defensive Line: A-
This grade is always tough because the run defense interior of Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Chris Wormley is solid, but the pass rush really didn’t get going until late once again. The Ravens held the Bengals to 33 yards on 14 carries and that includes a long of 17 on a run to Bengals WR Alex Erickson. The Bengals running backs were held to 14 yards on 12 carries. That is impressive. Tyus Bowser and Matt Judon made an impact as pass rushers on the final Bengals drive that ended with a touchdown. Still though, the Ravens just aren’t converting pressure into sacks and it’s going to continue to hurt them when they’re playing better offenses. The run defense was so good that the grade gets a bump. With even an average pass rush it would have been a high A.
Going into today’s game without Patrick Onwuasor was a big concern, but the combination of the new additions at ILB were actually pretty solid. Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort did a nice job in the running game to fill in gaps, and it’s easy to see why they’re both seasoned vets. Both made nice plays, but there did appear to be some confusion on coverage responsibilities in the middle of the field.
It didn’t cost them any major plays, but it’s something to monitor moving forward as both ‘new guys’ continue to adjust.
Defensive Backs: C
Maurice Canady started the game with a few nice plays and I started to feel like maybe getting sent to the practice squad worked out for him, but nope. The real Maurice Canady stood up and was repeatedly targeted by Andy Dalton. He did lead the team in tackles, but a review of the nine tackles he did have will likely show that too many of them were after a catch.
Chuck Clark looked solid though and that’s encouraging as he fills in for Tony Jefferson.
Marlon Humphrey also continues to build his pedigree as a top corner in the game. He brought in another pick and added a few pass break ups that are always great to see.
For once, it’s not completely negative in the DB section, hooray!
Special Teams: C
Seriously? A kickoff return for a touchdown in your own house. Nice way to set the tone..
That said, Justin Tucker is a freak, which surprises nobody.
Just to repeat, Lamar Jackson became the only player in the Super Bowl era to rush for 150+ and throw for 200+.
Yeah Lamar Jackson gets the game ball.