It wasn't a particularly good start for Cincinnati. During Baltimore's opening possession, Joe Flacco launches a 52-yard pass to Torrey Smith on the first play of the game (well the season, excluding the kickoff). Despite the big play, Cincinnati's defense prevented the Ravens from generating another first down, forcing Baltimore to convert a 39-yard field goal. Following Cincinnati's three-and-out, the Ravens take an early 10-point lead against a porous coverage in the secondary, picking up 63 yards on 12 plays, capped by an all-too easy Ray Rice seven-yard touchdown run.
This was Cincinnati's night in a nut shell.
A slice of swiss cheese with peppered holes for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to complete footballs three times the size of regulation. Gaps for trains like Ray Rice to split through the line of scrimmage, carrying conversations with escorting offensive linemen before feeling pressure from late-arriving Bengals defenders. Except for a knee to end the first half, Baltimore scored on four of their first five possessions, with two scoring drives of 80 yards or more and three 60-yard plus.
Cincinnati's offense mounted a charge, scoring 13 points in the span of four possessions reducing Baltimore's lead to four points. Yet Baltimore's offense wore down Cincinnati's defense and Andy Dalton's offense slowly declined into an embarrassment of turnovers and defeated facial expressions. After scoring on their initial third quarter possession, the Bengals went punt, interception, fumble and turnover on downs.
But again it was Cincinnati's defense that disappointed most of Cincinnati's prospects. Granted the Ravens were expected to win the game, but Cincinnati was also expected to have their starters playing midway into the fourth quarter. Instead it turned into a preseason game with backups and clock-killing runs that an empty Ravens stadium watched unfold.
It was just depressing.
IT WAS OVER WHEN...
One could argue that Ed Reed's pick-six was the punch that sealed Cincinnati's fate, giving Baltimore a 34-13 lead. But it seemed like Dennis Pitta's touchdown early in the third quarter knocked the wind out of Cincinnati's sails, expanding the Ravens' lead to 14 points.
- Despite the poor defensive effort, Geno Atkins resumed his terror against opposing quarterbacks with two sacks on Joe Flacco.
- Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis converted multiple third and fourth downs, generating 91 yards rushing on 18 carries and scoring Cincinnati's lone touchdown.
- Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins was a beast. His traditional bubble screens with more additions to his repertoire highlighted with tremendous effort and desire to make something happen. He led the team with eight receptions for 86 yards receiving.
- Bengals safety Taylor Mays was called for another personal foul for a helmet-to-helmet that will likely draw a fine. He was also slow covering Anquan Boldin during the receiver's 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
- Tight end Jermaine Gresham was a ghost. Though he caught three passes for 30 yards, two of those receptions were long after Cincinnati was out of the game.
- Entire Bengals defense. Little pass rush (except for two sacks by Atkins and one by Thomas Howard) and even less coverage in the secondary. Defensive middle between the defensive tackles and Rey Maualuga were plenty disappointing against the run.
- RAVENS FG: Baltimore takes 3-0 lead after 52-yard pass by Joe Flacco to start the game [RAVENS 3-0].
- RAVENS TD: Ray Rice eases himself into the endzone with a seven-yard run, giving Baltimore a 10-0 lead [RAVENS 10-0].
- BENGALS FG: Bengals offense comes alive and scores a field goal to get on the board [RAVENS 10-3].
- RAVENS TD: Baltimore goes 82 yards on five plays to take a 17-3 lead [RAVENS 17-3].
- BENGALS TD: BenJarvus Green-Ellis converts multiple fourth downs and scores a touchdown [RAVENS 17-10].
- BENGALS FG: Cincinnati puts together 79-yard drive on 12 plays, capped by a Mike Nugent field goal [RAVENS 17-13]
- RAVENS TD: Flacco throws a jump ball to Dennis Pitta into the endzone [RAVENS 24-13].
- RAVENS FG: Place kicker Justin Tucker converts a 40-yard field goal [RAVENS 27-13].
- RAVENS TD: Ed Reed picks off Andy Dalton and returns it for a touchdown [RAVENS 34-13].
- RAVENS TD: Defense recovers a fumble and scores on a one-yard Rice run [RAVENS 41-13].
- RAVENS FG: Backup Baltimore Ravens offensive unit scored a pointless field goal [RAVENS 44-13].