With two minutes left to play, Lamar Jackson had rushed nine times for 32 yards. He picked up 26 yards on just three carries, with a long of 19 yards, on the final, game-winning drive.
On the drive preceding the game-winner, with Baltimore backed up at its own 6-yard-line, Andrews broke free for his longest reception of the day, a 20-yard catch that got the Ravens out of trouble and would lead to a Justin Tucker field goal. Andrews had three receptions for 48 yards during that drive after having been hold to only three catches for 26 yards for most of the first three quarters.
Then, Andrews got the Ravens going on their game-winning drive with a pair of catches for 15 yards that moved Baltimore out to its own 40. Jackson did the rest from there.
“There might be some positives we can take from it,” said Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson at the post-game news conference, “but at the end of the day we didn’t get the win, and that’s the most important part.”
Sure, the Bengals’ defense only gave up 19 points to the high-powered Ravens offense. But, given a 17-16 lead with less than two minutes to play, the defense had just one job: keep the Ravens out of field goal range and preserve a hard-fought victory. And they didn’t get it done.
“In the end, we didn’t get the victory,” Wilson said. “We’ll learn from it and move on.”
Look, I get it. There is plenty of blame to go around. The special teams were not very special. Punter Kevin Huber probably had his worst game ever, with a pair of shanks that went 28 and 34 yards, respectively. The Ravens converted the first into a field goal, and the second into a touchdown that gave them a 10-0 lead.
The offense was sluggish. Again. Cincinnati managed a grand total of one first down and 22 yards through its first four possessions before showing signs of life. But, as bad as they had been, quarterback Joe Burrow was still able to engineer a 13-play, 75-yard drive that gave the Bengals the lead with under two minutes to play.
And the play calling was abysmal. With fourth and goal from its own 2-yard-line and a rejuvenated Joe Mixon averaging around five yards per carry on the day, head coach Zac Taylor opted for a quick pass over the middle to little-used receiver Stanley Morgan.
So, yes, there was plenty of blame to go around. But the bottom line is this: Cincinnati had the lead with under two minutes left, and the defense could not hold it.
Moral victories suck. Because they mean you lost.