Has the balance of power shifted in the AFC North?
That remains to be seen, but the Cincinnati Bengals have certainly staked their claim as the best team in the division.
Granted, when teams struggle for almost two decades, they inevitably are able to add talented playmakers with high draft picks.
The bottom line is the Bengals are a force to be reckoned with after a dominant 41-17 victory over the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
“They came into a division game on the road and played great, and [they] won and beat us,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We were beaten soundly, and that’s what happened.”
Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow dismantled the Ravens secondary for 416 yards with three touchdowns. Cincinnati tight end C.J. Uzomah got behind Baltimore’s secondary for two of those scores from 55 and 32 yards.
“I guess I’ll look at the film and kind of figure it out,” Humprey said. “I think things just didn’t go our way early. So, as “Wink” [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] says, it’s not as bad as it seems; but right now, it seems pretty bad. So, I’ll look at the film and kind of figure it out.”
The Ravens also struggled with their tackling again. Humphrey and safety Chuck Clark whiffed on a tackle that allowed the 82-yard touchdown to Chase. That play gave the Bengals a 27-17 lead and the Ravens never recovered.
The Bengals put the game away with a 21-yard touchdown run by Joe Mixon that boosted the lead to 34-17. Cincinnati running back Samaje Perine also had a 46-yard touchdown scamper on the next drive, Both times, the Ravens missed several tackles, a problem that has resurfaced numerous times.
“It hurts. This one is going to burn a little bit, as it should,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We care about each other, and we didn’t get it done today. You have to tip your hat off to Cincinnati. They played a great game today. They were prepared. They were ready. They executed, and they made plays they needed to win the game. For us, we just have to watch the tape, learn from it and let it burn. Hopefully, it can mature us and help us grow to where we want to go.”
The Ravens could not get much going on the ground against the Bengals’ front seven. Baltimore managed 115 yards rushing, but Jackson accounted for 88 of those yards. Devonta Freeman had just 14 yards on four carries and Le’Veon Bell was held to five yards. Latavius Murray missed the game with an ankle injury. Baltimore’s overhauled running attack remains a work in progress.
“I don’t want to say anything is not working; we were just passing the ball a little bit more,” Jackson said. “They stopped us sometimes when we ran the ball, but they weren’t just dynamic, just stopping us like that. We could have done better things out there on the field today. They did a great job, like I said, on defense – Cincinnati.”
Baltimore now heads into bye before hosting the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 7.
There’s much work to do during the layoff.
“My message to the team is my message to the team,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll keep it internal. What we talk about will be very honest and very real in terms of all the details and the things that we need to get better at. It won’t be as simple as that; it can’t be. It will be what we need to do to get better to become a more consistent team.”