As of this past Friday the Ravens had a total of 33 players either on injured reserve or on the COVID list. On Sunday in Cincinnati, 10 practice squad players dressed as either COVID-19 replacements or standard elevations, including nine who saw game action. Among the inactives were Pro Bowlers QB Lamar Jackson, KR Devin Duvernay and FB Patrick Ricard plus starting left guard Ben Powers. The team that took the field resembled a preseason lineup. Who are these guys?
The #Ravens preseason winning streak of 20 is in jeopardy.
— Tony Lombardi (@RSRLombardi) December 26, 2021
Joe Burrow took advantage. It was akin to a wounded gazelle in the forests of Siberia to a Panthera Tigris – in other words, the Ravens were doomed from the jump.
The loss, their fourth consecutive defeat and fifth in their last seven games, drops the Ravens to (8-7) on the season but still clinging to the 7th and final playoff spot if this rollercoaster campaign were to end today. But, there are two games to go and…well, you know. Be that as it may, let’s go Saints!
“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.” ~ the late Don Meredith, Dallas Cowboys
Mark Andrews posted 8 catches for 125 yards and 1 TD. He now leads all NFL tight ends in both catches (93) and receiving yards (1,187) yards, while his 9 receiving touchdowns are tied (Hunter Henry & Dawson Knox) for the most. It marks the 5th time this season that Andrews has eclipsed the century mark. The five games of 100-plus receiving yards are a Ravens’ single-season high and his three straight games with 100 receiving yards and a TD ties Jimmy Graham (2013) for the longest such streak by a TE in NFL history. Andrews’ 1,187 receiving yards are 15 yards short of breaking the team record in receiving yards set back in 1996 by Michael Jackson. Andrews’ relentlessness and will to compete against all odds was inspiring.
Rashod Bateman posted 4 catches for 26 yards and his first-career touchdown. Bateman owns the most overall receptions (37) and first-down catches (25) by a Raven through the first 10 games of a career… James Proche posted career highs with 7 receptions and 76 yards. He has the makings of a polished and reliable slot receiver…The offensive line had a decent day in pass protection. According to PFF the unit allowed 14 pressures to go with one sack. A few times QB Josh Johnson was able to re-load to find an open receiver downfield.
Odafe Oweh delivered the most consistent pressure across the defensive front seven. He had a couple of hits on Burrow and was credited with 5 total pressure plays by PFF during his 55 snaps…Broderick Washington was disruptive at times. He posted his first career sack and let another slip through his fingers when Burrow escaped his grasp. He’s had a pretty decent season and his extended playing time due to injury (Williams, Wolfe, Campbell) makes him a more accomplished depth player moving forward…Isaiah Mack had a sack negated by a rarity – dual 12-men on the field penalties. That said, Mack would not be denied. Like sidekick Washington who missed out on his first sack opportunity, Mack showed an excellent get-off and quickness during his 25 snaps and ended up with a takedown of Burrow. Mack represents young, quality depth for the Ravens moving forward…Patrick Queen’s 2021 resurgence continues. He posted 9 tackles, a tackle-for-loss and he had his first pass defensed (“PD”) of the season…Tony Jefferson tied Queen with 9 tackles, and he added a sack (his first since 10/14/18) and 1 PD on Sunday. He along with SCB Tavon Young were very effective open-field tacklers.
The Ravens could not get anything going on the ground. RPO’s with Johnson on the keeper were DOA. The Ravens rushers averaged an anemic 2.4 yards per carry. Devonta Freeman rushed 6 times for 17 yards and a score…The Ravens had only three inside backers active in the game (Queen, Josh Bynes and Joe Thomas) yet Malik Harrison didn’t register a single defensive snap. I thought Rob Ryan was supposed to help develop their second year ILB’s. Harrison’s regression is marked.
Five. Hundred. Twenty. Five. Yards. Passing.
— NFL345 (@NFL345) December 26, 2021
Burrow did pretty much whatever he wanted to. Despite the three sacks and pressures from Oweh, all too often, the gunslinger from LSU stood tall in a very clean pocket, almost as if the Ravens defenders were forced to count to 7-Mississippi before they rushed. Burrow was hardly challenged by a secondary consisting of scrap heap talent that had names sewn on their jerseys just in time for kickoff. Anthony Averett’s injury only made things worse. Burrow finished 37 of 46 for 525 yards and 4 scores…The Bengals had a total of 9 drives during the game. Seven ended in scores, one resulted in a missed FGA and the last closed in victory formation. Word is that HC Zac Taylor had to wake up punter Kevin Huber from a long winter’s nap when the teams left the field following the fourth quarter.
In two games against the Bengals this season the Ravens have given up 82 points and 1,095 yards. It’s often said that teams build their rosters in order to effectively compete against their division rivals. The Ravens will be facing Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd for many more seasons. They better equip themselves to compete, otherwise the big cats will continue to treat them like a litter box.
Burrow and Bengals prolific WR group against a cornerback group largely composed of guys promoted off the Ravens practice squad hasn't been fair fight.
Tee Higgins: 11 catches for 174 yards, 2 TDs
Ja'Marr Chase: 7 catches for 124 yards
Tyler Boyd: 3 catches for 85 yards, TD
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) December 26, 2021
I’m not sure what we should expect from the rag-tag roster the Ravens coaching staff was forced to roll out onto the field in Cincinnati. The defensive secondary was decimated and that forced Wink Martindale to use more zone coverage than the team has been accustomed to scheming up. Communications issues, a regular theme throughout 2021, were bound to surface given the tactical changes – and they did. Speaking of communication, maybe Wink should muzzle his when he takes to the podium.
Joe Burrow was playing with a chip on his shoulder 👀 pic.twitter.com/e9eE6FQSsc
— PFF (@PFF) December 26, 2021
It was interesting how the Ravens utilized the short passing game with great effectiveness. Greg Roman deserves credit for getting Josh Johnson ready to compete with a game plan that complemented the veteran QB’s skill set. Keep in mind that JJ was signed to the 53-man roster just 10 days prior to Sunday’s game. Added props to QB Coach James Urban for Johnson’s preparedness. That said, the RPO’s with Johnson were a disaster and looked like they were in slow motion. In the second quarter down 17-7, Freeman had a 7-yard run to begin a drive from the Ravens 21. A cluster of an RPO and a pass thrown to Marquise Brown behind the LOS later, the Ravens punted. Four minutes after that, it was 24-7, Bengals.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who is to sports journalism what Jerry Springer is to intelligent panel discussion, apparently is clairvoyant. He now knows what John Harbaugh’s private thoughts are. Imagine that! The Eddie Munster look-a-like has mad skills.
Privately, John Harbaugh seemed to be unhappy with Bengals coach Zac Taylor for throwing the ball late in a 41-21 game. Publicly, Harbaugh is not complaining. https://t.co/wbDtUw9LCz
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) December 26, 2021
The Megan Fox
QB Josh Johnson, completed 28-of-40 passes for 304 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. It was Johnson’s ninth career NFL start and his first since 12/30/18 while with Washington. His 304 passing yards were the most ever by a Ravens’ QB in his first start with the team (Eric Zeier, 302 in 1997). The Johnson-led offense was 3-for-3 in the red zone Sunday, scoring touchdowns on all three trips. Perhaps the silver lining in the performances of Johnson and before him Tyler Huntley, is that the offense, hopefully learned something about itself. And if Lamar Jackson can return to the lineup along with a couple other players, it might give the Ravens an opportunity to compete effectively during their final two games.