The Ravens have been ravaged by COVID-19, as well as various other injuries, leaving their roster depleted. This left Josh Johnson the starting quarterback after only being in the organization ten days. He had actually played a few snaps as a member of the Jets in relief of Mike White against the Bengals in Week 7.
The Bengals got the win thanks to their high-flying offense. Joe Burrow had 525 yards passing the ball, and Tee Higgins had 194 receiving yards, while Ja’Marr Chase had 125 and Boyd had 85.
The Bengals scored every time they had the ball until late in the fourth, putting up 41 for the second straight game against the Ravens.
For the first time since 2009, the Bengals swept both the Steelers and the Ravens.
Burrow dodged a sack on the first play from scrimmage, and set in motion a drive that would take them all the way to the Ravens’ 12-yard line. Burrow tried to get a fade into the corner of the end zone to Chris Evans, but Patrick Queen broke up the third-down play. The end result of the drive was a 30-yard field goal from Evan McPherson with 11:06 to go in the first quarter.
After one drive, the Bengals had a 3-0 lead to start the game.
Johnson came out to lead the Ravens on their first possession. The Ravens’ offense moved quickly, which the Bengals’ defense took time to adjust to. Johnson completed six of his eight passes, including on in the end zone to Rashod Bateman. Justin Tucker hit the extra point, and the Ravens had the 7-3 lead with 5:56 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bengals got right back to it when they got the ball, and gained 10 or more yards on their first three plays of the next drive. They got their first third-down conversion of the game on a reception from Ja’Marr Chase on the four-yard line right before getting knocked out of bounds. The Bengals couldn’t convert their next third down conversion, which led to a fourth-and-goal touchdown run from Joe Mixon for his 13th rushing score of the season. After the extra point, the Bengals regained the lead with 27 seconds left in the quarter, up 10-7.
Tyler Boyd is no stranger to scoring long touchdowns against the Ravens in games with playoff implications, and he repeated the feat this week. He got loose from his defender, and took a finessed pass from Burrow 68 yards to the end zone. McPherson’s extra point put the Bengals up 17-7 with 13:18 to go in the second quarter.
TYLER BOYD CAPS IT WITH A FRONT-FLIP pic.twitter.com/wThJmfLIUy— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) December 26, 2021
The Bengals figured out Johnson’s offense, forcing two three-and-outs on defense. They continued moving the ball on offense, getting another goal-to-go possession on their next drive. Burrow dumped a quick pass off to Mixon, who ran the ball nine yards and dove head-first into the end zone for another touchdown. The Bengals’ led 24-7 after the extra point, dominating on offense and defense with 7:03 until halftime.
The Ravens found their way on offense again, and Johnson got all the way down to the Bengals’ red zone. Johnson handed the ball off to Devonta Freeman, and got the ball into the end zone from two yards out.
After converting three third-and-long plays on that drive, the Ravens cut into the Bengals’ lead 24-14 after Tucker’s extra point with 1:38 remaining in the half.
The Bengals had less than two minutes, and Burrow got to the goal line quickly with a long 52-yard bomb to Tee Higgins.
Higgins cashed on the field position and hauled in a short goal line fade from first-and-goal. The Bengals claimed a 31-14 lead after the extra point with only 21 seconds left in the half.
The Bengals’ offense dominated in the first half. They scored 31 points in the first half, three more than the 28 they scored in the second half of the Week 6 game in Baltimore.
Burrow’s 299 passing yards were tied with Tom Brady for the most in any half by a quarterback this season. With three touchdowns and as many incompletions, he had a perfect passer rating in the first half. Higgins had 128 yards, while Boyd and Chase had more than 50 each.
The Bengals’ defense stopped the Ravens again on the first possession of the third quarter. Trey Hendrickson got a sack on Johnson, extending his streak of games with at least half a sacks to 11, which puts him just one short of Jevon Kearse in 1999-2000. Hendrickson now holds the single-season franchise record at 14 sacks, passing Carlos Dunlap, who had 13.5 in 2015.
Chase had been relatively quiet in the first half. Even though he had over 50 yards in the first half, he was on pace to only gain about half the yardage from his first game against the Ravens. Chase had 37 yards on the next drive to put his single-game total at 89 yards, the highest since Week 6 when he had 201 against the Ravens. Higgins helped convert on fourth-and-five, though they opted to kick in their next fourth down. McPherson hit a 36-yarder, and the Bengals extended their lead to 34-14 with 40 seconds left in the third quarter.
Johnson and the Ravens weren’t done, as the Ravens answered the score in only 40 seconds. Mark Andrews, public enemy number one whenever the Bengals and Ravens meet, extended all the way for a touchdown good for an 18-yard score. After the extra point, the Bengals still held a 34-21 lead with 14:55 remaining in the game.
On the next drive, Burrow became the first quarterback in history to throw for 400 yards against the Ravens twice. He also passed his previous career high of 416 yards, which he had in Week 6 in Baltimore. His final pass of the drive was another touchdown to Higgins on a ten-yard post route. With that, Higgins was up to 174 yards, well above his previous career high of 138 that he recorded against the Chargers in Week 13.
The Bengals got the ball again inside the two-minute warning, and Burrow unleashed a 52-yard bomb to Mixon. With that, Burrow reached 500 passing yards for the first time in his career, and became the first Bengals player ever to do so. They didn’t punch the ball in the end zone, opting instead to kneel it out, and secure the 41-21 win.
After the win, the Bengals improved to 9-6 to stay atop the North division. The Ravens dropped to 8-7. The Bengals are one game clear of the division lead, regardless of the outcome of the Pittsburgh Steelers - Kansas City Chiefs game later in Week 16.
The Bengals host the Chiefs next week in an attempt to stay in first place, before heading to Cleveland for the season finale.