After every Ravens game this season, we’ll take a look at five numbers that help explain the outcome …
0 — The number of sacks and quarterback hits the defense registered on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton
Skinny: Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson did an effective job using a no-huddle attack and calling for three-step drops to neutralize the Ravens’ ability to create pressure, but the front four did very little to make Dalton uncomfortable in the pocket, especially in the first half. It was defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ decision to send nickel back Asa Jackson on a blitz that left cornerback Chykie Brown with no help on the 77-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green that sent the Ravens to defeat. Baltimore simply didn’t do enough to rattle the fourth-year quarterback, and he made them pay.
1.67 — The number of yards the Ravens averaged on first down before the final drive of the first half
Skinny: Head coach John Harbaugh explained after the game how the Ravens wanted to use some bootlegs and play-action passes early to keep the Bengals defense off balance, but those plays put a drive in a deep hole if you don’t complete passes on first down. The Ravens encountered far too many second-and-long and third-and-long situations in the first half, which upset the overall play-call balance and led to zero points being scored in the first half. In the second half, the Ravens averaged a healthier 4.38 yards per first-down play, but the damage of a 15-point deficit had already been done and left little margin for error for the defense before the long touchdown pass to Green.
3 — The number of sacks taken by quarterback Joe Flacco
Skinny: This may not resonate until you examine the circumstances of each one. The first came on the final play of the first half when the Ravens elected to run a third-and-10 play from the Cincinnati 15 and Flacco inexplicably held the ball way too long, allowing the first half to expire without even a field goal try. The final two came on the Ravens’ last two offensive plays of the game when Flacco held the ball too long for a coverage sack to turn third-and-4 into fourth-and-9 and followed that with the inability to get the ball out to a “hot” read when the Bengals sent a free rusher off the right edge. Yes, there’s no guarantee he completes the pass or is even able to move the chains in that spot, but the sack he took on the previous play put him in an even more difficult down and distance and it’s still his responsibility to get the ball out in that situation — even if it would have resulted in an incomplete pass to end the drive, anyway.
7 — Number of unofficial drops committed by Ravens pass-catchers
Skinny: Flacco certainly didn’t play well on Sunday, but his receivers did him no favors as Steve Smith dropped four passes to dampen a Baltimore debut that included an 80-yard touchdown catch. Jacoby Jones also dropped two passes, including a deep pass over the middle that could have gone for a touchdown in the second quarter. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s West Coast offense is built on timing and precision, which the Ravens showed too little of throughout the game. Smith summed it up nicely that sometimes receivers have games where they “can’t catch a cold butt-naked in Alaska with a flu shot.”
62 — The number of pass attempts by Flacco
Skinny: The total matched his career high set in last year’s season opener in Denver when the Ravens lost 49-27 and Peyton Manning tossed seven touchdowns passes. The defense may not have broken while allowing the Bengals to kick five field goals in the first half, but that’s still too many scoring drives and put an ineffective offense in a sizable hole at intermission. The early lack of production on first down and Bernard Pierce’s ineffectiveness forced the Ravens to look too much like the unbalanced offense they were in 2013. Not counting the 80-yard touchdown to Smith, Flacco averaged a sickly 4.34 yards per attempt on his other 61 throws. Too many attempts and too few being completed down the field.