With the Ravens falling hard in a 41-17 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. In the midst of an excellent performance, Joe Burrow provided the “Bungles” moment Baltimore needed when he foolishly threw one up for grabs that was picked by Marlon Humphrey. Trailing just 27-17 with a quarter remaining, the Ravens netted all of 18 yards before turning it over on downs. Ballgame.
2. Through the opening 28 minutes, Ja’Marr Chase made one catch for nine yards. He was blanked in the fourth quarter. Sure, that’s overlooking the other seven catches for 192 yards and a touchdown, but why dwell on negatives? It takes a special talent to make Humphrey look that bad.
3. Ironically, the Bengals came out picking on Anthony Averett, who registered three pass breakups in the opening quarter and held up OK overall. Responsible for most of the coverage on Chase, Humphrey was always going to be targeted, but it was jarring to see him struggle so dramatically.
4. The offensive line wasn’t nearly good enough, but Lamar Jackson passed on a few checkdowns that could have resulted in positive plays rather than sacks, hits, or incompletions. You love his big-play ability with both his arm and legs, but it’s sometimes OK to take what the defense gives you.
5. Even after last week’s 187-yard performance, I wasn’t sold on a dramatic breakthrough for the ground game as the Ravens entered Week 7 ranking 10th in run efficiency. Is the problem the offensive line or replacement running backs either past their prime or too inexperienced? The answer is yes.
6. Speaking of recurring issues, Baltimore allowed two touchdowns to C.J. Uzomah, who became the latest tight end to hurt the Ravens. And it wasn’t an inside linebacker problem with Humphrey surrendering the first and multiple defenders breaking to the flat to leave him uncovered on the second.
7. The ankle injury to Patrick Mekari began a sequence that consisted of a sack, a holding penalty, a punt from the Cincinnati 40 that went for a touchback, a roughing the passer foul, and Burrow’s 55-yard touchdown to Uzomah over six plays. Absolutely brutal, but losing Mekari was much worse.
8. The lack of surprise in response to Ronnie Stanley’s season-ending surgery shouldn’t be mistaken for overconfidence. Alejandro Villanueva has responded nicely from a disastrous Week 1, but Pro Football Focus credited him for 10 hurries allowed Sunday. Filling in respectably isn’t the same as succeeding at left tackle all season.
9. Though it would be the Ravens’ final offensive highlight, Marquise Brown’s 39-yard touchdown catch was sensational. I’m still not sure how he tapped his left foot in before his left knee landed out, but the 2019 first-round pick has now caught 12 touchdowns over his last 13 regular-season games.
10. After allowing 400-plus yards in a game only eight times over the first three seasons of the Wink Martindale era, the Ravens defense has surrendered that many in four of seven games this season. Baltimore ranks 28th at 6.3 yards per play allowed after finishing sixth at 5.1 last year.
11. An unreliable running game makes it difficult to stay on schedule, but both teams stayed conservative on the fringe of field-goal range by punting on short fields. Despite wind not appearing to be a huge factor (updated below), Baltimore passed on two long Justin Tucker tries with the score close.
12. The Ravens had never experienced such a dramatic swing in back-to-back games at home. The 2002 team rebounded from a 25-0 loss to Tampa Bay with a 34-23 win over Denver. In 2012, Baltimore followed a 17-point loss to Denver with a 19-point victory over the Giants. Talk about variance.