The Bengals beat the Ravens 17-14 at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday.
Let me repeat, the BENGALS beat the Ravens 17-14 at M&T Bank Stadium.
I have checked the official game summary, and even double-checked with an NFL source; and all have confirmed that the OFFICIALS were not involved with the game’s final outcome.
Let me get this out of the way before I go any further; as I am sure a few of you will want to be quick to point it out. Jeff Triplette’s crew did not have a perfect day. In fact, the spot of the ball after the Mark Clayton “fumble” made me wonder what game they were watching.
However, the officials had NOTHING to do with the outcome of Sunday’s game.
There were many reasons why the Ravens lost the football game.
Reason Number 1: The Ravens were dominated statistically.
The Ravens gained 257 net yards; the Bengals 403. The Ravens rushed for 82 yards, the Bengals 142. The Ravens threw for 175 yards, the Bengals 261. The Ravens gained 5.3 yards per pass play, the Bengals gained 8.2.
I’ll stop there. Numbers-wise, this game should have been a blowout. The Ravens were particularly fortunate to have even kept it close. They never had any sort of offensive consistency, and they allowed Cincinnati to move the football for big chunks at costly times.
Reason Number 2: The Bengals Converted when it Counted.
The Ravens held the ball for 25:41, the Bengals 34:19. The Ravens converted 25% of their 3rd and 4th down attempts (3/12), the Bengals converted 42.8% (6/14). The Ravens had just one scoring drive and failed to attempt even a SINGLE field goal; the Bengals put together three different scoring drives.
On the Bengals’ final drive, Carson Palmer and company faced a crucial 4th and 1 from their own 34. A maligned Ravens secondary gave Palmer no where to throw the football, and yet he managed to convert, as the middle of the field gave him plenty of running room. Those are the types of plays where games can really be won and lost, as teams will not have many opportunities to get an opposing offense off the field. If you give a team extra chances, they tend to figure out ways to win.
Reason Number 3: Decisions made by the coaching staff were wrong because they didn’t work.
I have always preached the mentality that there is one way to determine if a coach made the right or wrong call. If it looks like the wrong call but it was effective-it was the right one. If it looks like the right call but it fails-it was wrong. While a team can’t coach execution, a game’s questionable decisions often come down to preparedness for the call, and comfort level with the call.
The call to throw a deep ball to Mark Clayton on 3rd and 10 from the 49 yard line with 2:28 to play LOOKED like the right call. The Ravens caught the Bengals napping, and Joe Flacco had Clayton wide open down the sidelines. Unfortunately, the ball sailed over Clayton’s head, and the Bengals were able to get the ball back without having to call another timeout. And while the play LOOKED like the right call, the fact that Flacco had never really gotten any rhythm today meant it was probably the WRONG call. The Ravens had success with short passing plays in space to Ray Rice. While the Bengals may have expected one in that situation, they also probably expected one on the previous drive on 2nd and 24. The play on the previous drive went for a 48 yard TD.
Reason Number 4: Carson Palmer did a HELL of a Tom Brady impression.
The Bengals’ final drive of the game didn’t look as “effortless” as drives by other NFL quarterbacks have looked, but it looked like he was about as comfortable as you could be asked from an opposing quarterback against the Ravens’ defense on the road down the stretch.
He never panicked. He never lost faith that his receivers would be in good position. He had early success, and go the Ravens’ defense frustrated-which lead to a boneheaded penalty on a certain future Hall of Fame LB. The Bengals never had to spike the ball, and they never had to rush to get a play off. They were comfortable knowing their quarterback would make plays, and their quarterback rewarded them for their trust. It was an impressive display.
Reason That You Won’t Find On My List: The Officials Let the Ravens Down.
There is an argument that Frank Walker didn’t deserve to be flagged for a pass interference on the final drive. There is an argument that Chad Ochocinco DID deserve to be flagged for a pass interference on the final drive. There is an argument that the Ravens didn’t appear to be so undisciplined that they should have been flagged for 37 more penalty yards than their opponents.
But there is certainly NO argument that these things cost the Ravens the football game.
Terrell Suggs said “we gotta play football” and referenced the plays that happened directly after questionable calls. He said that when things weren’t going their way, the Ravens “still could have won the game.” Frank Walker (who didn’t agree with the pass interference call) said “we’ve just got to start (being more) disciplined” and admitted that games are close because the team “let(s) them be close.” Trevor Pryce said “if you dominate, calls don’t matter.” John Harbaugh admitted that “the idea is to play so well that (questionable calls) become irrelevant…….we didn’t do that today.”
Ed Reed actually ADMITTED “It’s supposed to be a 50/50 equal playing field for both teams. At points…it just didn’t seem like it.” But he ALSO admitted “you’re got to play your game….not put it in anybody else’s hands.” He added “It’s not about them, it’s about us playing sound football.”
That was maybe the most important thing he said all day. “It’s not about them, it’s about us playing sound football.”
Or as Terrell Suggs followed up, “We better start playing some good football, and we better start doing it like RIGHT NOW before too many of these get away from us.”
The RAVENS need to improve their game.
Not the officials.
3:59-Leon Hall INT makes this one official. I predicted the Ravens to finish undefeated at home this season. I was wrong. This one makes the win over San Diego almost irrelevant.
Costly loss. Be back shortly.
3:57-Chris Carr was back there because whatever happens, you CANNOT afford a turnover. Ravens have MAYBE two plays to set up a field goal attempt.
3:54-REALLY not sure about that call. I think Frank Walker was trying to make a play on the ball.
AND WOW. WOW. Carson Palmer just finished an unreal drive. Wow.
3:53-Well……that was particularly fortunate. Credit the fans here for the noise, which I believe had something to do with that fumble.
3:52-Carson Palmer looks really good in a pressure situation.
3:51-Did Ray Lewis just lose his mind there? Everything about that just helped the Bengals; and he will almost certainly hear from the NFL office about that one.
3:49-The Bengals did the right thing there by calling two plays instead of spiking the ball. Worth taking a shot downfield; as they could have possibly come up with a pass interference if nothing else.
3:48-I actually liked Cincinnati’s 3rd down call. Make everyone think you’re throwing, then run the ball.
Ravens had their chance to get off the field and didn’t.
3:46-The Bengals have plenty of time AND still have two timeouts. The Ravens HAVE to make a stop. It’s all 4 down territory from here.
3:41-That catch HAD to feel good for Kelley Washington against his former team.
A Mark Clayton catch would have felt good for EVERYONE ELSE IN THE STADIUM.
I might need something to settle my stomach/start breathing again.
3:35-Feels like a WORLD of difference to be able to say that this team has the chance to put this one away……
3:28-What a HUGE run by Ray Rice there. Wow. Just, wow. It goes into the books as a receiving TD; but that was a RUN. BIG TIME STUFF.
3:24-Ray Rice ran like a MAN on that one. Ravens now in field goal range-which is relevant to discuss in a 3 point game. Hauschka could get the chance to make the first big kick of his career today.
3:23-Mark Clayton really needed a positive 2nd half today; and he’s done some really good things.
3:20-Great safety help by Dawan Landry on the 3rd down play. Also, where was the flag on the punt???
3:18-Apparently Carson Palmer hurt his wrist; as he is now wearing a glove. He looks like he’s uncomfortable even when he hands the ball off. The Bengals are playing like last year’s Ravens. Get ahead and then try to grind the game away.
Diagnosis on Palmer: sprained left thumb.
3:11-Down by 3, the Ravens will go to the 4th quarter facing a 2nd and 17.
Do you think there’s a chance someone changed the sign in the locker room to “Play Like an Oriole”?
3:06-That’s why the Ravens made the move to Webb for kickoffs. They needed the explosiveness.
3:01-I’ve actually been just as impressed by Ed Reed’s tackling as his other plays today.
WOW THAT HURTS. Antwan Barnes fails to wrap him up, and Cedric Benson will surpass 100 yards. Color me stunned.
9 plays, 84 yards, 6:19 and the Bengals will get a gift here after Trevor Pryce is called for an illegal formation. 10-7 Bengals.
What the hell is going on today? And are the fans at M&T Bank Stadium booing the Ravens?
The Ravens hadn’t allowed a 100 yard rusher in 39 games-Larry Johnson was the last back in 2006.
2:58-Another week until we get to the point where Samari Rolle might be able to return? The secondary could really use the help…..
2:56-I was getting ready to praise Greg Mattison’s defense for the effort they’ve given on 3rd down in the 2nd half. Good thing I didn’t.
2:54-I’m trying to get excited when the Ravens have the football, but I haven’t been able to thus far. Of course, nothing about this game has really gotten me excited to be honest.
2:47-Rosburg and company tried to get cute there; but there was nothing going. Not sure I liked the play call to be honest.
For the record-I have been looking for Derrick Mason up here, but have not found him.
2:46-Brian Leonard has been a really nice player for the Bengals. I know that play ended up 2-3 yards short; but he has REALLY made an impact for them.
2:45-That’s 3 delay of game calls on the Bengals, right?
2:42-Add Sam Koch to the list of the few Ravens who are playing at a very high level today. It’s a short list today.
2:22-Why would you NOT throw a Hail Mary here?
Spencer Folau says you don’t want to risk Flacco fumbling and the Bengals returning.
Guess John Harbaugh and company had a change of heart.
2:20-Thought they were doing EVERYTHING right on this drive until they called their final timeout. But they must not trust themselves to convert a 3rd and short.
That sack will just about end this.
2:18-Ed Reed is playing at his all-world level today; and thank God he is. Great play.
We’re all in agreement that Triplette just screwed that up; right?
2:13-Okay, can ANYONE explain to me why the ball was spotted at the 20 yard line on the fumble play? I know it didn’t end up meaning anything, but this is PUZZLING!
Nice return by Quan Cosby on a nice punt by Sam Koch.
2:06-Looking at the replay, I think it was a fumble. Marvin may get this overturned; but it wouldn’t be a TD. They can get possession; but they can’t get anything on a return. We’ll see.
2:04-McGahee had no chance on the 2nd down with Maualuga coming in like that. And after a great play to Heap, the Robert Geathers sack has the Ravens working backwards again.
2:01-Apparently Daniel Coats is no Ben “Winter” Coates; as that was a VERY bad drop.
Ed Reed is in the game here because this is a “safe” return unit. The Ravens are not trying to incorporate him as an explosive returner. Even a reporter screwed this up this week when talking to Jerry Rosburg.
2:00-I was informed that comments weren’t working on the blog; so I decided to pick up and move. Let me know how this works.
Hopefully the Bengals will STOP moving on the Ravens.
1:55-I can’t say I’ve agreed with Cam Cameron thus far. I know this team likes having the ball in Ray Rice’s hands; but that was questionable.
Sam Koch with the game’s first punt; almost halfway through the 2nd quarter.
1:51-7 plays, 70 yards, 2:06 on the FG drive for the Bengals.
The Bengals will get into the red zone today. The Ravens just have to keep them from getting out of it.
Lardarius Webb doesn’t do anything with the football on his first kick return chance. Chris Carr MIGHT have tried to bring that one out.
1:50-Seriously, Jarret Johnson has played at a Pro Bowl level this season. Not everyone else on the defense can say the same.
1:45-Some pressure; but not nearly enough. And Chris Henry made Domonique Foxworth look BAD there. That’s rough.
Ravens have to stop the Bengals in the red zone. They didn’t a week ago.
1:41-From my friend Justin Karp (a colleague of mine at KDUS-The Fan 1060 during my tenure in Phoenix):
“What a perfect throw by Carson. He hit Reed right in stride! That’s what I want out of a quarterback: accuracy.”
1:39-Sixth INT return for a TD in Ed Reed’s career. Every time he does it, he’s strengthening his case to make the Hall of Fame-which is relevant to discuss because Ed might not play as long as you think.
Hauschka’s XP makes it 7-0.
1:38-Just as I say it……
1:35-Just because Cedric Benson might not run for 100 yards today, it doesn’t mean Cincinnati failed in running the football. The Bengals just need him to run the ball enough to keep the Ravens honest. Then, they are plenty capable of moving the ball downfield through the air.
Two good tackles from Ed Reed early on. He hasn’t made an immediate impact on the football this season, but he’s been in position to make plays.
1:30-Carson Palmer has had TONS of time to throw the ball thus far. If Cedric Benson can keep getting decent gains; the Bengals’ offense will open up more. That’s scary.
Two early penalties on Terrell Suggs. That isn’t so good.
1:27-Maybe Todd Heap is the right guy to throw a jump ball to, but jump balls are supposed to be passes that ONLY your receiver can come down with. Jonathan Joseph made a nice play; but that ball should have been up higher.
1:23-For the record, credit Kelly Gregg with blocking Shayne Graham’s FG attempt.
Did Cam Cameron really just call an option with a forward shovel pass? Not a fan.
1:20-Okay, blocked field goal, Flacco to Todd Heap, Flacco scaring me to death by running-sorry I missed it.
Seriously; can Adam Jones or someone teach Flacco better sliding technique? Okay, maybe not anyone who plays for the Orioles.
What a block by Oher to free Le’Ron McClain up on the swing. This team can be even more dangerous with all backs going. And Ray Rice is apparently going too.
1:13-Do you think every time Haloti Ngata makes a play like that in the backfield he just hears “Cha-ching” knowing he has a paycheck coming?
1:11-As my friend Rich Dubroff (of the Carroll County Times) pointed out to me, teams don’t usually do a good job of taking timeouts to stop the momentum of a team who is driving. Of course, having Chad Ochoinco on the sidelines should also help slow momentum.
1:08-Great protection for Carson Palmer on 3rd down thus far. And the Bungles are 2-2 on 3rd down already.
1:06-The Pats beat the Ravens by extending drives on 3rd down (sure that had a lot to do with penalties) and by scoring in the red zone. The Bengals are 1-1 on 3rd and long early.
1:03-Andre Caldwell is a major X-factor today. We all know about the abilities of Chad Ochocinco, Chris Henry, and Laveranues Coles; but Caldwell is dangerous with the football, as you saw on the opening kickoff.
12:56-This stadium REALLY is more electric when the defense is introduced. I start to wonder how things would be different if Ray Lewis had ended up signing in Dallas or elsewhere.
12:49-Rachel Nichols is here. I know she’s got a bit of an Ice Princess vibe; but I’ve always had a thing for her. Should I tell her? Your vote counts.
12:47-As it remains Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Ravens and Bengals players are again incorporating pink into their gear. Also, there are pink ribbons painted on the field; and the goal post stands are again pink.
12:41-The Ravens are 15-11 all-time against Cincy, including 10-4 at home (M&T Bank Stadium/PSINet Stadium/Memorial Stadium/I’m pretty sure it was just called Ravens Stadium for a minute too).
The Ravens have won the last two games in the series with last year’s sweep. You’ll remember the season opener with Joe Flacco running for a long TD; and you’ll remember Mark Clayton throwing for a TD in Cincinnati.
12:36-Did anyone catch the “Mayne Event” on ESPN this morning? What was Christine Taylor doing talking to Scott Van Pelt? I mean, BESIDES leaving me starting at the TV. We don’t have the sound on in the press box.
QB John Beck (3rd QB)
RB Jalen Parmele
LB Prescott Burgess
OT Oniel Cousins
OT Jared Gaither
TE Tony Curtis
DT Kelly Talavou
LB/DE Paul Kruger
Michael Oher will start at LT; Marshal Yanda at RT. Tony Moll is the reserve OT; and may have to play a few snaps. Tavares Gooden is still listed as starter at JACK LB; despite rumors this week that Dannell Ellerbe or Jameel McClain would.
The Bengals waived CB Geoffrey Pope this week and signed LB Dan Skuta to active roster.
QB Jordan Palmer (3rd QB)
DT Tank Johnson
OT Andre Smith
WR Jerome Simpson
TE Chase Coffman
S Tom Nelson
LB Rashad Jeanty
OT Scott Kooistra
DT Pat Sims will start for Tank Johnson. Evan Mathis is starting for Nate Livings at RG.
10:57-Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com and NBC Sports is reporting that Jared Gaither is OUT today. This is not surprising in the LEAST bit, considering Jared could not even MOVE his neck when we talked on Thursday. Michael Oher would start at LT, Marshal Yanda at RT. Either Tony Moll or Oniel Cousins would be active as a reserve OT.
10:38-Both teams will be playing with obvious heavy hearts today; due to the tragic events of the past week. Former Ravens LB Tony Fein (who was with the team in Training Camp) passed away Tuesday; with word coming that he apparently took his own life. On Friday we learned that Vikki Zimmer (wife of Bengals DC Mike Zimmer) had also passed away. I was just given the gameday schedule; and there is no video tribute or moment of silence scheduled; although I would imagine something will be done during the day to recognize the unfortunate events of the week.
10:09-Greetings from M&T Bank Stadium in Downtown Baltimore, where we are 3 hours away from kickoff; as the 3-1 Baltimore Ravens square off with the 3-1 Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North. The Ravens are coming off a tough 27-21 loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough; while the Bengals are coming off a 23-20 win in Cleveland over the Browns that should have ended in a tie-at least according to Rob Ryan.
The Bengals are a wild, deflected Brandon Stokley touchdown (we all remember the play) away from being 4-0 this season; and have been vastly improved defensively to go along with their always high-powered offense. The Ravens have been vastly improved offensively to go along with their always dangerous defense. Having two very balanced teams has certainly made for an even more interesting division battle.
If anything as interesting as that Brandon Stokley TD happens again today; we have just the man in the booth to call it. Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker have the call for CBS; the game can be seen locally on WJZ 13. If you are NOT in the Baltimore area and your CBS station is showing another game-you may be able to hear today’s action on the Sports USA Radio Network-where Larry Kahn, Ross Tucker and Laura Okmin have the call.
Luke Jones will be chiming in with me via Twitter-make sure you are following us (@WNST); and we will be texting out the inactives shortly; so MAKE SURE you have signed up for the WNST text service.