The Cincinnati Bengals held on for a 24-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens in a game that was a lot closer than most expected. John Harbaugh’s team played a near-perfect game considering they were without quarterback Lamar Jackson. So what did we learn?
The Ravens might be right about Lamar Jackson
Though the former MVP is clearly the superior player, Lamar Jackson may not have changed the outcome for the Ravens yesterday, thus justifying Baltimore’s denying him the guaranteed money he desires. That’s because the Ravens only had a chance because of a physical defense and an offense that complemented it quite well.
Baltimore rode running back J.K. Dobbins (13 carries for 62 yards) and backup quarterback Tyler Huntley picked up big chunks of yards on the ground as well (nine carries, 54 yards). Huntley also had a solid game throwing the ball, with a QB rating of 92.0 and a very good QBR (ESPN’s metric) of 74.0.
While Huntley’s 226 yards and two touchdowns passing aren’t video game numbers, it’s important to remember that Lamar Jackson hasn’t exactly been stellar in the playoffs. The Ravens starting quarterback has gone 1-3 in four playoff games, throwing three touchdown passes to five interceptions and completing only 55.9% of his throws for a QB rating of 68.3.
Believe it or not, Huntley’s stats against the Bengals were better than those of any of Jackson’s playoff games. Again, Jackson is clearly a much bigger threat. But with the style of game that the Ravens want to play, it may make sense to not invest so much (guaranteed) money into the quarterback position at this point.
The Bengals’ run game has disappeared
Yes, Bengals right guard Alex Cappa was missing in the Wild Card game, but rushing for only 51 yards on 18 carries (2.8 yards per carry) is really bad. And it’s been three weeks of this, two of which were before the Cappa injury:
- Week 18 vs. Ravens—55 yards on 20 carries (2.8 yards per carry) against the Ravens
- Week 17 vs. New England Patriots—73 yards on 24 carries (3.0 yards per carry)
- Week 16 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—53 yards on 21 carries (2.5 yards per carry)
The Andrew Whitworth talk needs to not be a joke
Cincinnati left tackle Jonah Williams went down with a scary knee injury. (Some are speculating he re-dislocated his knee.) And now the Bengals are without a competent (no offense, Jackson Carman) left tackle for the most important game of the season, an AFC Divisional Round game against the vaunted Buffalo Bills.
While Bengals legend Andrew Whitworth is technically retired and supposedly 41 years old, his physique and natural talent are enough to make him an immediate upgrade at the position. Plus, after starting 235 games at left tackle, he should be able to pick up the Bengals’ blocking schemes quickly.
As things stand, the Bengals cannot trust Jackson Carman to hold up against edge rushers. So unless they have a gem they’re about to call up from the practice squad, quarterback Joe Burrow will have to remain constantly vigilant about the left side or roll to his right a lot more than he did before.
If you’re looking for more detailed analysis of the game and a preview of the upcoming showdown with the Bills, check out our the below video:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: