The visitors did a good job of getting the ball out quickly to A.J. Green, who can run like the wind and has hands to match anyone else in the league. They used Andrew Hawkins perfectly across the middle, where his speed was just too much for the Ravens linebacking corps to defend. And with the Ravens unable to force Dalton out of the pocket with pressure from the outside edge, it looked early on as if Cincinnati’s offensive might pose real problems for Dean Pees and his defense.
“We did some good things offensively. I thought we had them a little concerned with (wide receivers) Green and Hawkins out there, but then we threw a ball up for grabs that we probably shouldn’t have and that changed everything,” Lewis said afterwards.
Indeed, the turning point was a late 3rd quarter throw from Dalton that was easily gobbled up by Ed Reed, who scampered into the end zone untouched from 34 yards out to make the score 34-13 and bring out the white towels from the Bengals.
“It’s a two score game right there,” commented Lewis. ”We just needed to work our way down the field like we had in those other drives and if we do that and get in the end zone, it’s 27-20 with plenty of time left. But we didn’t make the play…”
Dalton’s ill-advised throw to Reed helped start the landslide, as the Ravens tacked on ten more points in the final stanza to make it 44-13.
“I have to make a better throw there,” Dalton confirmed afterwards in the locker room. ”Turnovers decide games.”
A playoff team a season ago, the Bengals looked anything but that on Monday night in Baltimore.
“We have a lot to work on still, that’s for sure,” the head coach concluded. That’s coach speak for: ”We got run out of the gym tonight.”
Marvin Lewis wouldn’t say that, of course, but I can — and will.
The Bengals put up a spirited fight offensively for about 44 minutes. They put up a spirited fight on defense for about 44 seconds. On nearly every occasion when the Ravens needed to do something with the ball, they did it. The Bengals didn’t have an answer for the run or the throw. They got run out of the gym.
In general, Marvin Lewis seemed somewhat unfazed by his defense’s shoddy play when he spoke to the media following the loss.
I must have watched a different game.