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The good, the bad and the ugly in Bengals’ Wild Card win vs. Ravens

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but the Bengals did the job and got the win over their division rivals in the opening round of the playoffs.

What a game.

It was hard-fought to the end and the Baltimore Ravens gave the Cincinnati Bengals everything they could handle in this one. From an iconic play in team history to doing a lot of little things well, here are the best and worst facets of the Bengals’ thrilling 24-17 win on Sunday night.

The good

Winning the turnover battle:

Efficiency and caution. That was the name of the game for Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense on Sunday night against the vaunted Ravens defense.

While it wasn’t the splashiest of affairs from Cincinnati’s offense, they limited the turnovers (just one) with none of them coming from Joe Burrow. His 99.6 rating, lack of fumbles amid four sacks, multiple pressures and hits was a feat itself.

A major key in this game was to greatly limit unforced errors and play into the hands of Baltimore’s tough defensive unit. With the game being largely placed on the Ravens’ defense needing a stellar evening, Cincinnati eked it out with safe and smart play.

Big plays by nearly every player on defense:

It seemed like Lou Anarumo’s unit took turns as individual stars, even if for brief moments. Akeem Davis-Gaither had an early interception that led to a critical touchdown, while following that up with nice special teams plays.

Of course, Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt and Sam Hubbard had the play of the night (and one of the best in team history) with the fumble recovery and touchdown, but Mike Hilton and Jessie Bates III teamed up for three tackles for loss, while B.J. Hill and D.J. Reader were forces inside.

Even young defensive linemen Zachary Carter and Cam Sample had nice moments. Just a solid night across the board from the defense.

Ja’Marr Chase:

Baltimore’s defense made every attempt to clamp down on “Uno”, and while they limited gigantic plays, Chase still made them pay. He had nine catches on 12 targets with for 84 yards and a score. He was the biggest weapon, the Ravens focused on him, and he still made them pay.

Great teams create special moments:

For every incredible season a team puts forth, a handful of trademark plays define the year. In the past two years, the Cincinnati Bengals have rattled off a number of them.

One of the most iconic plays in team history was on display late Sunday night. When Logan Wilson batted the football out of Tyler Huntley’s hands and Sam Hubbard scooped it up and essentially ran away with the win, it was a symbol for the team’s special 2022-23 season once again.

The bad

The predictable run game struggles:

With Alex Cappa and La’el Collins out of the lineup and Cincinnati going up against a tough Baltimore defense, we knew it would be tough sledding for the run game. Then, Jonah Williams left with a kneecap dislocation in the middle of this one, complicating things further.

There were a couple of occasions where early-down runs were effective, but the grand scale showed ineffectiveness. They netted just 51 yards on the ground at a 2.8 average.

Ravens’ offensive success with an obvious blueprint:

With a backup quarterback, we knew the Ravens would lean heavily on their defense, power run game and having Mark Andrews being the focal point of the passing attack. Baltimore netted 155 rushing yards as a team on a 4.4-yard per-carry average.

Andrews made hay with 73 yards on five catches, while three backs contributed heavily on the ground. The saving grace was that the Bengals’ defense disallowed the Ravens’ offense to top that 17-points scored per-game average.

The ugly

Another offensive lineman going down:

As mentioned above, the Bengals’ revamped offensive line from the offseason is a shadow of itself, personnel-wise. Cappa and Collins were/are huge losses, and now the lone mainstay on the line from 2021, Jonah Williams, is nursing a knee injury.

The offensive line was the biggest hurdle in the Bengals’ inability to win the Super Bowl last year, hence the bunch of additions up front. Now, they’re faced with starting two or three backups for what looks like the remainder of the postseason.

Subsequent allowance of a high volume of pressures, hits and sacks on Joe Burrow:

Because of the injuries up front, Burrow has had to work pocket magic the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it culminated in four sacks, eight quarterback hits and numerous pressures.

This simply cannot continue to happen for sustainable success and a Super Bowl run. Yes, we said the same thing last year, and they made it all the way to the big dance, but it eventually caught up to them. Unfortunately, similar results may occur here if they don’t fix things quickly.