The Cincinnati Bengals’ performance in their first game of the 2017 regular season was one to forget. The offense failed to put up any points, turning the ball over five times, and the defense allowed 20 points over the course of the game.
As you can probably expect, the reaction from the national media was not particularly positive. On Sunday, the Bengals looked as bad as they ever did in last year’s 6-9-1 season. It was an extremely disappointing performance for the Bengals and their fans, as explained by Joe Kay of AP Sports, one the Bengals will be hoping to move on from quickly.
The Bengals had breakdowns everywhere as they were shut out in a season opener for the first time since 1979. They'd never been blanked in a home opener. The Bengals managed only 221 total yards and had nine penalties.
"This was as disappointing as it can be," coach Marvin Lewis said.
Baltimore has tormented Dalton like few others. He's had nine three-interception games during his career, four of them against Baltimore. His only other four-interception game also was against the Ravens in the 2013.
Things calmed down a bit for the Bengals in the second half. Although Dalton wasn’t done turning the ball over when the team went into the locker room for halftime, he did look more effective after the break.
Were it not for his costly fumble, the Bengals could have easily put points on the board on the first drive of the second half. They drove all the way down to the Ravens’ 6-yard line, appearing to build momentum.
Unfortunately, as noted by Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, that isn’t how things worked out.
The Bengals did something, but it wasn’t what they hoped. Andy Dalton threw a pass that was tipped by Terrell Suggs and snatched out of the air by Lardarius Webb. Terrance West ran the ball in for a touchdown on the next play, and the Ravens took a 17-point lead into the locker room.
It was the third interception of the first half for Dalton. Two were off of tipped balls, and the third came when C.J. Mosley read a pass into the end zone perfectly to end Cincinnati’s best scoring chance of the first 30 minutes. Dalton is 7-of-14 for 72 yards overall and also missed an open Cody Core on a third down pass that would have extended a drive.
It was an unfamiliar turn of events for the Bengals, who have generally dominated the Ravens in recent years. Even in 2016, the Bengals split wins with the Ravens and held their own in the loss.
That loss was a Week 12 outing to Baltimore and, despite a rough first half, the Bengals charged back in the second half to finish the game, 19-14. However, that wasn’t the case this week as the Bengals looked absolutely flat for most of the game.
As explained by Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback, the Bengals were absolutely decimated by the Ravens’ rebuilt defense.
Cincinnati had won six of the previous seven against the Ravens, and Baltimore (the city and the team) truly hated that kind of failure against a division foe. The Ravens took a rare rich foray into free agency this offseason, signing safety Tony Jefferson, who plays like he has anvils in his shoulder pads, and adding some young speed to the defense in the draft and signing nose tackle Brandon Williams long-term. And back came Terrell Suggs for his 15th year, looking rejuvenated in training camp because he wasn’t rehabbing an injury; he could work out to get stronger and more limber. On Sunday, Baltimore won a 20-0 shutout, holding the Bengals to 221 yards and forcing five turnovers.
After a certain point, it was clear the Bengals’ chances of turning things around was over. Perhaps, it should have been obvious after Dalton’s fumble on the Bengals’ first drive of the second half. It led to the Ravens’ final scoring drive. With 1:06 left in the third quarter, both teams had put up all the points they were going to put up on the day, finishing with a final score of 20-0.
That said, according to Jay Morrison of the Dayton Daily News, the Bengals’ final punt was the proper highlight to a generally forgettable day.
After the 18-play drive that made it 20-0, Baltimore began milking the clock, and Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis essentially waived the white flag when he elected to punt from midfield with 10 minutes remaining.
The Bengals will not have much time to straighten things out with a Thursday night home game looming against the Houston Texans.
“We don’t have a chance to pout about it,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to get ready to go.”
Twitter had virtually nothing nice to say about the Bengals’ performance against the Ravens, as shown by these examples:
Bengals are shut out at home by Ravens, 20-0, the first team to get shut out at home in its season opener since 2006. pic.twitter.com/zW9hbb8K4R— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 10, 2017
Per @PFF #Bengals average OL grade was 44.83 compared to Ravens 58.9. T.J. Johnson earned the highest grade with a 67.4.— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) September 11, 2017
I'd say the #Bengals should throw in the towel but it'd probably get intercepted. @WCPO @flying_pigskin— Keenan Singleton (@KJMSingleton) September 10, 2017
On behalf of the city of Cincinnati, I want to apologize to the @NFL viewing audience for that game. That was unwatchable football. #bengals— Nick Lachey (@NickLachey) September 10, 2017