Finding positives from the Baltimore Ravens 44-13 demolecularization over the Cincinnati Bengals could be slightly discouraging. I mean there's the whole 31-point difference that mocks our ever-loving fanaticism. And despite our imitation of becoming Negative Nancys the day after, there were good things to pull from Monday Night's embarrassment. First of all it wasn't really a blow out until the latter stages of the game.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the Cincinnati Bengals rushing offense, generating 91 yards rushing on 18 carries for a 5.1 yard/rush average and a touchdown. Faced with a third (or fourth) and short (two yards or less) four times, Green-Ellis converted all four with gains of 13, 12, 4 and a six-yard score that gave Cincinnati their lone touchdown of the evening.
"I thought we did a good job of that - third and short, picking up first downs, doing things like that," said quarterback Andy Dalton after the game. "We had a lot of long drives there. I felt like we were in the game."
With 27 seconds remaining in the first half, down 17-3, BenJarvus Green-Ellis takes the third-and-one handoff from Baltimore's six-yard line. Devastating blocks across the offensive line generated a lane so massive, Green-Ellis appeared somewhat surprised. Finally with Ravens defenders pounding on the running back, Green-Ellis fought, spun, dug, drove keeping his body off the ground long enough for him to stretch out and eclipse the goalline for a touchdown.
As a team the Bengals posted 129 yards rushing on 28 carries for a 4.6 yard/rush average.
"All in all, I think our ability, schematically, in running the football, was good," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "But again, when you sit there and get your butt kicked like that, there aren’t a lot of positives to take out of it."
Much of his success however has to be attributed to the offensive line. After the game starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth praised the younger players:
"With the group we had to throw together on the line, I’m very proud. We did a great job against a great team and we did it in a very tough place to play. We just didn’t get to finish some drives and that hurt us. We needed to get touchdowns instead of field goals. We had a chance to play well on the big stage tonight and it’s disappointing because we couldn’t do that."
Cincinnati's newest offensive lineman Jeff Faine, tasked with Pro Bowl nose tackle Haloti Ngata, agreed.
"I thought we did a decent job running the ball. I wish it was a tighter game. I wish we could have kept running it. (Green-Ellis) was getting some really good runs. He was running really hard. The one near the end zone where he kind of muscled through three guys to get that touchdown was huge. Hopefully we play just a little better, execute a little better and keep the run going a little longer throughout the game."
The Bengals rushing offense averaged 4.6 yards/rush Monday night against historically one of the toughest rushing defenses in the league. Case in point: Cincinnati's average was the highest they've had against the Ravens since generating a 4.8 yards/rush average on December 7, 2003.
The team's rushing offense resurgence in the first game of the year may translate into the season, with the next five games against rushing defenses that finished outside of the top-ten last year. A trend that could be enhanced once Bernard Scott makes his way back, projected against Cleveland this Sunday.