The Cincinnati Bengals’ Week 7 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore was going to be a statement game no matter what.
We knew the Bengals were capable of being good, but this was the 5-1 Ravens in M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens were the AFC favorites of NFL analysts across every platform. If the Bengals lost, they’d say “same old Bengals.” If the Bengals lost, but kept it close, they’d say “they’re not quite ready yet.” If the Bengals squeaked out a win, they’d say “maybe these Bengals are for real.”
What nobody expected was the absolute dismantling of the Ravens at the hands of the Bengals to the tune of 41-17. What are they saying now? I know what the rest of the league should be saying.
Here are some things that went right, maybe a single moment that went wrong and a look at what’s ahead.
Chasing After You
I don’t think I’ve gone a week where Ja’Marr Chase didn’t have his own dedicated section on Tuesday, and I’m not really sure if there will be a week where he’s not mentioned. Chase carved up the Ravens secondary, finishing the game with 201 receiving yards and a touchdown. The funny thing was announcer Kevin Harlan said, “Chase has been a little quiet today” in the second quarter. I think Chase heard what Harlan said and took it personally, because moments later he caught a short pass that he turned into 26 yards, helping set the Bengals up for a field goal to go up 13-10 at the end of the first half.
Then in the second half, it was all Chase all the time. Marlon Humphrey is one of the best cover corners in the NFL and Chase made him look like he wasn’t there on Sunday. Barring some catastrophic injury, Chase is going to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Just give him the award now.
Through seven games he has 754 receiving yards and six touchdowns. No rookie has ever had that many receiving yards in his first seven games ever.
He has transformed the offense.
Chase wasn’t the only Bengal having a career game in Baltimore on Sunday. Head coach Zach Taylor unleashed the full might of quarterback Joe Burrow right away. The Bengals didn’t have to wait until they were down after halftime for the offense to show up. Burrow was slinging the ball from the first snap to when he was pulled from the game. He finished with 416 yards, three touchdowns, and one bad interception, completing 60 percent of his passes.
Burrow outplayed Lamar Jackson in every way other than on the ground throughout the entire game.
The end of the department store era
Earlier in the year I wrote one of these titled “Saks Fifth Avenue” because Burrow was sacked a lot. He wasn’t on Sunday or very often in Week 6 either. Get it? Saks is closing.... get it?
I may be reaching here, but Burrow was sacked only once on Sunday despite dropping back to pass 38 times. Was he pressured at times? Absolutely, but we’re not talking about a defense who has historically been bad at rushing the passer. Justin Houston is one of the best pass rushers in league history with 99.5 sacks. He was in the backfield all day long, hitting Burrow four times and logging one hurry for a total of five pressures. He wasn’t the only one either.
The point is Burrow got rid of the ball on time and on target, which was not only a great job by him, but a good job the offensive play callers. The Bengals don’t have the best offensive line, but it is much better than it was last year and it will just continue to improve.
That’s what we call a sack lunch! Num-num-num-num-num!
While the Bengals offensive line has gotten better at keeping Burrow on his feet, the Bengals defensive front seven has gotten much better at putting the opposing quarterback on the ground. Last season the Bengals managed to sack the opposing quarterback 17 times in 16 games. So far this season, Lou Anarumo’s crew has racked up a total of 19 sacks after seven games, which is just two behind the league’s best.
This was after the Bengals let Carl Lawson walk in free agency, replacing him with Trey Hendrickson, which turned out to be a great move because he’s leading the team with 6.5 sacks and is on pace for 15.5 for the season.
Would you like to know the last time a Bengals player had 15.5 sacks in a season?
Never. It has never happened (officially!).
I am Sam. Sam I am.
Sam Hubbard is a Cincinnati native and one of the most unsung heroes of the Bengals revamped defense. He has a motor that doesn’t quit and it showed on Sunday as he was able to bring Jackson down in the backfield 2.5 times. Right now he’s playing defensive end opposite of Hendrickson, but he can also kick inside on passing downs when Joseph Ossai is healthy and wreak havok from the defensive tackle position.
He is a Swiss army knife and I am so happy the Bengals extended him through the 2025 season.
National Tight End Day
I wasn’t aware that National Tight End Day was a thing, but I’m happy the Bengals decided to celebrate the holiday in Baltimore. C.J. Uzomah finished with three receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He has shown he’s the downfield threat Bengals fans hoped he could be.
It’s virtually impossible for defenses to make sure Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Uzomah are covered well. Which one would you be comfortable leaving open? The correct answer is none of them.
The Bengals stay on the road this coming weekend and head to the Big Apple to face off against the 1-6 New York Jets. Here are a few things the Bengals could expect on Sunday.
- Who will play quarterback? Rookie signal caller Zach Wilson has a sprained PCL and is expected to miss two to four weeks. The Jets traded for Eagles back up Joe Flacco on Monday, but he cannot play due to COVID protocols. So will it be Mike White, or former Bengal Josh Johnson? If you’re unsure who Mike White is, you’re not alone. Google says he was selected in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Western Kentucky. He has completed 20 of 32 attempts for one touchdown and two interceptions. So that’s who Mike White is.
- The Jets have the worst scoring offense in the NFL with only nine touchdowns so far this season. They haven’t been able to get anything going through the air or on the ground and I’d really hate to see White or Johnson figure it out against the Bengals on Sunday.
- The Jets’ defense hasn’t been terrible, but they’ve been consistently put in bad situations by their struggling offense. They’re only allowing 4.1 yards per rush and they’ve given up 291 yards per game in the air. Those aren’t terrible numbers and considering the situation, the defense is likely better than the stats show. I’d like to see the chains remain off the Bengals offense.
- Look, the Jets are bad. The Bengals are opposite of bad. They’re good. Good teams shouldn’t lose to bad teams. The Bengals are coming off the high of beating a division rival on the road. They play at home against another division rival in Week 9. This has trap game written all over it. I’m confident, though. I don’t think these are the same old Bengals we’ve been accustomed to.
To wrap things up, some random Week 7 thoughts
- This was absolutely the signature win the Bengals needed to show the rest of the league they’re for real. I can’t think of a win in recent history that made more of a statement than this one did.
- Late in the second half, the two long scoring runs by Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine were just a team completely imposing their will on another. The Ravens were broken at that point. I didn’t mind seeing the Bengals pile it on.
- On Perine’s 46-yard touchdown run, right guard Jackson Carman blocked Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams 10 yards down the field and finished by driving him down into the turf. It was one man completely dominating another physically. That’s not something Bengals fans are used to seeing from this perspective.
- The first Bengals penalty came with only seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. That’s just great discipline.
- There are five teams that are in the top 10 of scoring offenses and scoring defenses. Those teams are the Rams, Cardinals, Buccaneers, Bills and Bengals. The first four on that list are Super Bowl contenders. Do you think the Bengals are?
- Joe Burrow is the ONLY quarterback to ever throw for 400 yards and three touchdowns against the Ravens in Baltimore.
- I am officially 100 percent sold on this coaching staff.
- Like Mike Hilton said. Extend Jessie Bates.