LIVE BLOG from Cincinnati: Ravens crush hapless Bengals 34-3

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It’s a lot more fun coming to Cincinnati when the team wins. After a few rough years of losses, the Ravens finally blistered the injured and hapless Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, a thorough 34-3 beating which featured almost flawless football from Joe Flacco and company.

The Ravens jumped out to a 13-point and only a mini two-minute drive at the end of the first half with three big plays allowed the Bengals to mount any sort of offensive threat. As far as Ravens’ domination games over their 13 years in Baltimore, it’d be hard to find a more inept effort than the one we saw from the Bengals today.

So what did we learn?

The Ravens are now 8-4 and again will face another week of: “Are they any good?” inquires leading up to a nationally televised showdown with the Redskins this Sunday. We at WNST will be mounting a serious effort to make some noise for Art Modell to get nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist status this week.

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Nothing gives me greater pleasure than division wins on the road, but one look at the Bengals today would tell you that they barely qualify as an NFL team at this point. Every bumbling mistake you could imagine we saw from the Bengals today, as well as an offense that was overmatched on virtually every play.

Lost amidst the near shutout and “Who Dey” ineptitude, it was also a big day offensively for a number of players on the Ravens.

Mark Clayton busted out with a few big catches, including the 70-yard touchdown bomb from Flacco. He also THREW a 32-yard TD to Derrick Mason on a flea flicker. Cam Cameron’s chicanery has been quite effective this year.

Flacco continues to look comfortable and effective from the pocket, and once again showed his ability to scamper for first downs in the first half.

And once again with Willis McGahee holding the clipboard, Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice were both effective running the ball behind yet another patchwork offensive line effort. (It was good to see Jared Gaither come out of the pile and get back on the field after having his right leg rolled on in the second quarter).

The defense even managed a late score with a interception return for a TD from Jim Leonhard in the final three minutes when there couldn’t have been 2,000 people left in the stadium.

Not much to complain about today if you’re a Ravens fan. This one almost looked too easy.

There will be some questions in the postgame about Frank Walker’s strange absence. But other than that, it’s back to Baltimore to prepare for a heated “civil war” as the Redskins come to Charm City to play a real NFL game for the first time since my childhood.

It’s gonna be a great week!

2:19 p.m.

The Ravens completely dominated the first half of play here in Cincinnati, holding the Bengals to six consecutive series of 3-and-out offensive fiascos. You name it and the Bengals have botched it.

From fumbled snaps to dropped passes to blown assignments, the Bengals have shown 30 minutes of complete futility while the Ravens have been opportunistic in making a few significant plays.

Flacco has run for a first down. He’s also found Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Todd Heap on major plays, giving the Ravens three scoring opportunities. The Ravens cashed in on their only TD of the half with a TD pass to Heap. Le’Ron McClain has once again been the feature back and has found plenty of running room in the porous Bengals defense.

The Bengals fans have stayed away in droves on this chilly, gray day in Cincinnati. There might be 35,000 people in Paul Brown Stadium today.

Just before the half the stadium erupted in mock applause as Bengals QB Ryan Fitzpatrick scampered for 21 yards with 38 seconds left in the half. On the next play, Fitzpatrick hit T.J. Houshmanzadeh for a 46-yard pickup putting the Bengals in a scoring position for the first time all day. After one more completed pass to Chad Johnson (the announcer here calls him “Ocho Cinco” — it’s hysterical), the Bengals had to settle for a field goal as time expired, making the score 13-3 at the half.

The strangest call of the day happened prior to game time when cornerback Frank Walker was made inactive by John Harbaugh. We’ll make inquiries in the post-game as to why that happened. It could be another case of Coach “Hard Ball” showing the team who is boss. We’ll investigate.

12:12 p.m.

UPDATED INACTIVES: Cornerback Frank Walker and tackle Adam Terry are out for today’s game.

5:25 a.m.

All roads to Cincinnati seem to lead through Louisville for me. (Or at least the cheap flights go that way, with a 90-minute drive on the other side.)

So, will the Ravens go into Paul Brown Stadium on a chilly, wet afternoon and do what 7-4 teams with playoff hopes do? Or could this be another “trap” game like the one I witnessed in Oakland a few years ago when Anthony Wright went West and lost to the hapless Raiders in December?

We’re hoping for a sweep on the Bengals.

Joe Flacco can hang onto the wet ball. Ray Lewis and the defense can torture another backup quarterback. And let’s hope we can at least run the ball and make a hapless team go away before they think they’re in the game.

One thing I’m sure I’ll see: PLENTY of empty seats.

It always struck me as comedic that the Bengals fans would trash talk us every year in Cincy. They’ve had the worst franchise in the sport over the last 20 years and their fans tend to be kinda chippy. I’ll get you a full report by the end of the day.

Off to BWI…

(I’m kinda digging this season of “hotel free” football. It’s more fun this way. A mad dash for 1 p.m. kickoff!)

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