The Cincinnati Bengals are just getting to know tight end Hayden Hurst, the former first-round selection of the Baltimore Ravens who came over to Cincinnati as a free agent during the off season. But one thing we already know about him - his glass is always half full.
“We’ll be fine,” Hurst said in his postgame interview. “We’ll get this thing going. We have no panic in this locker room.
“It doesn’t matter the situation. We know what we’re capable of as an offense. We’re gonna get this thing rolling. We’ve got playmakers all over the place. We’re gonna get this thing figured out, and we’re gonna start putting up points.”
The Bengals sure took their time about it Sunday evening. Their first four drives netted one first down, 22 yards and four punts. Baltimore made the most of the opportunities and sprinted out to a 10-0 lead.
Cincinnati finally got untracked midway through the second quarter when it put together a 7-play, 83 yard drive, topped off by a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Burrow to Hurst.
The Bengals fought back to tie it at 10-10 following a 40-yard Evan McPherson field goal, and trailed 13-10 early in the third quarter when Cincinnati responded with one of its better drives of the season.
Burrow meticulously guided the Bengals on a 14-play, 73-yard drive that saw Cincinnati move to a fourth-and-goal at the Ravens 2. Instead of opting for a run from the rejuvenated Joe Mixon (who finished with 78 yards rushing on 14 carries for an average of 5.6 yards per carry), head coach Zac Taylor inexplicably opted for a quick pass over the middle to little-used receiver Stanley Morgan. It didn’t work.
“When we get down in the red zone, we just gotta be able to punch it in,” he said. “We did a couple of times there, and kind of stalled out one time. But we just got to be able to punch those in.”
Baltimore took over at its own two and drove 91 yards on 15 plays for another field goal and a 16-10 lead. For the Bengals, that missed opportunity proved to be the difference in the game.
Hurst certainly did his part, finishing with 53 yards on six receptions and the one score to lead all Cincinnati receivers. But it wasn’t enough.
“It’s gonna come down to last drive in this division,” Hurst said. That’s kind of how it goes.”
On this night, it went to the Ravens.