With the Ravens’ 2022 season coming to an end in a 24-17 wild-card playoff defeat at Cincinnati on Sunday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. After allowing scores on three of the Bengals’ first four full possessions, the Ravens defense didn’t allow another first down as Cincinnati’s only one over the final 20 minutes of play came on the roughing the kicker penalty. You couldn’t have asked for much more from Mike Macdonald’s group.
2. Had Baltimore been at the 7 — not the 17 — with 1:08 remaining, I’d buy John Harbaugh’s explanation for huddling and not calling a timeout. The holding penalty absolutely hurt, but this offense needed the play-calling flexibility and, most importantly, a touchdown before worrying that much about Cincinnati’s next possession.
3. It’s unfortunate that Tyler Huntley will be remembered for inexplicably trying to leap over the goal-line pile because he had probably played his best game of the season in a tough spot. There was no replacing Lamar Jackson down the stretch, but Huntley remains a solid backup.
4. Losing back-to-back playoff games — the other being the 2020 postseason tilt in Buffalo — in large part because of defensive touchdowns of 98-plus yards leaves you shaking your head. Fumbling at the goal line is inexcusable, but the ball deflecting right into the arms of Cincinnati’s Sam Hubbard was brutal luck.
5. Considering the organization’s mystifying approach at wide receiver this past offseason, there was probably something fitting about the 2022 campaign coming to a close with a Hail Mary on which James Proche had a chance to make a play. Let’s hope we’re not talking about wide receiver again next year.
6. The Ravens moved the ball to the Cincinnati 3 — or closer — on three different possessions. Their point differential on the outcome of those three drives was only plus-three. After starting the season 8-for-10 inside the red zone, Baltimore finished 20-for-53 (37.7%). League-worst New England was 42.2% for the entire season.
7. Ravens coaches probably didn’t appreciate the postgame comments made by J.K. Dobbins, but it’s tough to blame him after seeing Greg Roman’s play calls inside the 5-yard line. I liked seeing Dobbins match a career high with four receptions for 43 yards, however. More of that next season.
8. While Pro Football Focus grading Kyle Hamilton as the NFL’s top safety is weird since he’s played almost exclusively at slot corner since early in the season, it still speaks to how well he performed as a rookie. His forced fumble and recovery against Hayden Hurst was impressive.
9. Speaking of first-round picks, Odafe Oweh played his best football in January and even flashed rushing the passer from interior spots. It was a disappointing campaign for Oweh, but you hope a healthy offseason — he was recovering from shoulder surgery last year — aids in the preparation for a pivotal 2023.
10. Thanks to a successful slant and go by Demarcus Robinson to burn Eli Apple, the Ravens scored two touchdowns in a game for the first time since their Week 12 win at Jacksonville on Nov. 27. Doesn’t 2019 feel like it was a decade ago?
11. How badly did these AFC North rivals want to win? Look no further than Mark Andrews’ effort on Hubbard’s touchdown or Bengals safety Jessie Bates running down Huntley at the 2-yard line three plays before the game-changing fumble. Credit Cincinnati for making the critical plays.
12. Trash talk makes rivalries fun, but the Bengals have won four playoff games over the last two seasons while Baltimore has two in nine seasons and has gone a decade without a conference championship game appearance. It’s time to step up, but that’s easier said than done without your quarterback.