It used to be just the Pittsburgh Steelers that embarrassed this team in divisional matchups, but the Bengals are built like the perfect sacrificial lamb for the Ravens, whom operate in ways that contrast the Bengals’ incompetence so beautifully.
Here are the few winners and many losers from Sunday’s shellacking.
The secondary: From Jessie Bates to Darius Phillips, the back five did a tremendous job of stopping big plays through the air from happening. Bates himself had another fantastic game with a couple clutch pass breakups on passes targeting Mark Andrews. Phillips was very useful on a few slot blitzes and was a part of the platoon to mitigate any further damage Lamar Jackson could do.
Logan Wilson: In his return to the field this week, Wilson hauled in his second-career interception. A slick fake blitz caught Jackson off guard and the MVP threw it right to Wilson. Later in the game, Wilson dropped another interception. He’s playing very solid football for being a rookie.
Lou Anarumo: Such a commendable defensive performance makes the coordinator worthy of acclimation as well. Anarumo put together a great plan to minimize the damage Jackson can normally create. The defense went six-straight drives without allowing a score and could’ve created multiple turnovers if not for a couple of dropped interceptions.
The offensive line: Thank you, next.
Seriously. It’s so rare to see two NFL units so unevenly matched. The Bengals’ front five and any protection scheme they drew up failed miserably against this Ravens defense; knowing they were going to face blitzes all game long. It seemed like it took four quarters for a blitz pickup to be made. There has to be accountability for this. There just has to be.
Joe Burrow: Welcome to the NFL. Seriously. For as bad as the line was, Burrow was not faultless. He learned the hard way that you can’t always hold the ball in the hopes of making a miracle happen. He took too many hits on his own on top of the ones his o-line allowed. This ain’t college anymore. Growth in this area is a must behind this line.
A.J. Green: We learned that Green is still dealing with the hamstring issue that incapacitated him during training camp, but it’s impossible to get the image of his one target out of our heads. Green didn’t attempt to catch the pass and it landed in the hands of Marcus Peters for Burrow’s third interception of the year. Green didn’t seem to realize he needed to tackle Peters until five seconds later.
He may very well still be hurt, but it’s obvious he’s just not there in any way, shape, or form.
Zac Taylor: Good God, why all the empty sets? At a certain point, when you know your line can’t handle any type of blitz, either set up some quick passes or keep guys in to protect. Taylor seemed clueless when he needed to adjust for most of the game. 3-17-1 stinks as bad as it should.
Duke Tobin & the Blackburns: How’s that faith in the offensive line looking? Major changes will come in 2021, but it they will come far too late. Everyone in the world knew this group wasn’t good enough, except for the people in charge of fixing it.
Drew Sample: Asking Sample to pass protect in one-on-one situations is tough, but he’s consistently terrible at it. He has zero value as an in-line pass blocker.
Mike Thomas: To throw more fuel on the fire, Thomas’ one target ended in a fumble returned for a touchdown. It was the symbolic moment this game needed.