Jackson would finish the game with 150 passing yards and 118 rushing yards in a rare NFL game in which both quarterbacks were their teams’ leading rushers. Ten years after Joe Flacco beat the Bengals 17-10 in 2008 in his first career start, Jackson did the same, beating his division rival, 24-21.
The Bengals offense was slow to start, especially on the ground. Andy Dalton was the Bengals leading rusher with two carries for 29 yards. Joe Mixon finished with 14 yards on the ground.
This was also the first game of the 2018 season without Teryl Austin as the Bengals defensive coordinator, and the first in which Marvin Lewis added coaching the defense to his responsibilities. Former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was also back on the Cincinnati sideline for the first time since January 2016 and back on an NFL sideline for the first time since being fired by the Browns in late October.
Jackson got the ball rolling quickly and gained 45 yards on his first four carries. Jackson’s rushing game combined with an unnecessary roughness penalty from Dre Kirkpatrick helped set up a six-yard rushing touchdown from Alex Collins. The Ravens put together an 11-play, 66-yard drive without passing the ball. After Justin Tucker’s extra point, the Ravens were up early 7-0 with 7:31 left in the first quarter.
The Ravens' opening drive was the only drive by any team this season with 10 or more runs and 0 passes. They began with 11 runs, capped off by an Alex Collins touchdown.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 18, 2018
Despite giving up 66 yards on the first drive, the Bengals’ defense shored up and only allowed 19 yards on their next two series. The Bengals offense was similarly slow to start, but when Andy Dalton found Tyler Boyd for 29 yards on third-and-seven early in the second quarter, the offense finally showed some signs of life. Joe Mixon followed up the Boyd catch with a 21-yard screen to set up first and goal. When the offense got the ball at the one-yard line after a penalty, Mixon took the ball again and pushed the pile into the endzone. Randy Bullock’s extra point, the Bengals had leveled the score at seven apiece with 12:57 to go in the second quarter.
After trading punts again, the Ravens got back to running the ball with Jackson, Collins, and Gus Edwards. But a third-and-one inside the red zone turned into third-and-11 after a penalty, and the Ravens were unable to convert so they called on Tucker for the three-pointer. With 1:46 to go in the half, Tucker nailed the 28-yard chip shot and got the Ravens back on top, leading 10-7.
The Bengals quickly punted and the Ravens got one more chance to score. Under pressure, Jackson dodged a couple of defenders and threw on the run to John Brown, who got the ball into field goal range after a 23-yard gain. From there, Tucker nailed a 56-yard field goal as time expired to extend the Ravens’ lead going into the locker room to 13-7.
The first half offense for the Bengals was abysmal, gaining only 101 yards to the Ravens’ 206. Boyd was targeted five times in the opening half and only caught one pass, while John Ross caught none of his three targets. Dalton only completed 7 of his 16 passes but led the team in rushing. He had one scramble for 20 yards, while Mixon and Giovani Bernard combined for only 14 yards on eight carries.
Dalton had 76 passing yards, but his counterpart on the Ravens offense had the same number of yards with a much higher completion percentage. Jackson was eight for 11 passing and had 10 carries for 64 yards on the ground.
With the Ravens receiving the second half kickoff and immediately driving, Shawn Williams caught Jackson’s first career interception. Carlos Dunlap was bearing down on the quarterback, so Jackson made a hurried throw that Williams picked out of the air and returned to the Ravens’ 32-yard line.
Dalton took advantage of the turnover with two passes to Mixon and C.J. Uzomah to get to the four-yard line. From there, Dalton had an easy lane to fire a laser to Matt Lengel, the tight end signed off the Texans’ practice squad in October. Following Lengel’s first touchdown with the Bengals, Bullock’s extra point gave the Bengals their first lead since his last-second field goal in Week 8. The Bengals finally had the lead 33 minutes into the game, up 14-13 with 11:50 left in the third quarter.
Jackson and the Ravens answered the touchdown by turning the ball over on downs at their own 45-yard line. The Bengals nickled and dimed down the short field and converted both of their third down opportunities. After the second third-down conversion, Dalton went to Ross in the endzone who made an incredible catch, even though the defender had his arm in between Ross’ arms. Ross made the catch, kept his feet in bounds and secured an incredible 22-yard score that added to the Bengals’ lead, now 21-13 with 5:45 left in the third quarter.
Bengals take a 21-13 lead on John Ross' 22 yard TD. pic.twitter.com/GFqAVoBslU— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) November 18, 2018
Jackson responded to the pressure of trailing by eight points and the pressure of the Bengals’ defensive line and got his team down to the Bengals’ red zone. He started out with some chunk yardage and then big plays, too that got the Ravens got all the way down the 11-yard line where Edwards powered his way into the end zone with 1:03 left in the quarter. They gave the ball back to Edwards — who had just scored his first NFL touchdown — for the two point conversion and he got it to tied the score at 21-21.
Meanwhile, someone named Gus Edwards -- undrafted rookie from Rutgers, signed for a $6,000 bonus, cut and added to practice squad before his promotion a month ago -- has 96 rushing yards, a TD and 2-point conversion for #Ravens, who just tied it 21-all late 3rd quarter.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 18, 2018
After a Bengals punt, Jackson returned with his uncanny ability to escape tackles. Jackson used his mobility to avoid pressure in the pocket and either pass the ball on the run or carry the ball himself. Edwards converted a key third-and-five, so both he and Jackson reached the 100-yard mark on the drive. The Ravens got all the way down to the Bengals’ eight-yard line, but were forced to settle for a field goal. The 24-yard attempt was good and the Ravens retook the lead, 24-21, with 8:12 left in the game.
Tyler Boyd had an amazing drive following Edwards’ touchdown. His first catch was on third-and-five as he caught the ball short of the sticks and summersaulted over the defender to get the first down. The second was on third-and-12 and was good for 33 yards. With both catches Boyd more than doubled his entire games’ worth of production on two plays. But the Bengals could not convert a third down, and sent Bullock out for a 52-yard kick. The attempt was a few feet to the right, so the Ravens took over at the Bengals 42-yard line with just under four minutes to play.
The Ravens punted, but a penalty put the Bengals at their own 10-yard line with one timeout and 2:45 to go in the game. Dalton hit Uzomah with a 20-yard pass and Bernard with a seven yarder to take the game to the two-minute warning. The Ravens’ defense brought up a fourth down, but Dalton went to the worst possible option in Cody Core, so the Ravens were able to reclaim possession with 1:42 left in the game and no timeouts left for the Bengals.
With the loss, the Bengals dropped out of the playoff picture as the Ravens took their place as the No. 6 spot. The Bengals have now lost four out of their last five games and are 5-5 this season.