There are two ways to look at Sunday’s 20-17 Baltimore win over Cincinnati.
Or, torture extended.
Honestly, I’m thinking we’re a lot closer to torture-extended than saving the season, but that’s why they play the games.
I’ll just ask the question directly instead of beating around the bush: This Ravens offense can’t possibly be good enough to win six more games between now and New Years, right?
I don’t see how it can happen.
They can’t run the ball. Anywhere. And the passing game, while decent enough at times, just can’t prop up a one-dimensional offense like the one the Ravens are utilizing these days.
Now, this takes nothing at all away from the overtime win over the Bengals. A loss by the Ravens – after being up 17-0 – would have been about as disappointing as The Hangover 3. And, with the win, the season and hopes for a rebound in the second half are alive and well, despite the offensive ineptness.
A win IS a win, no matter how many times we’ve heard that over the years.
And, we’ve heard it a lot.
But, it’s true. The standings will reflect that Baltimore won on Sunday to improve to 4-5 and the Bengals lost to fall to 6-4. Bellyaching about the team’s offense – like I just did above – won’t change those facts. Lamenting about James Ihedigbo’s mental error on the game’s final play of regulation won’t alter the outcome, either.
I assume Bengals fans might want to wring Marvin Lewis’s neck for a series of bizarre decisions throughout the afternoon, but none will be talked about more than his decision to take the overtime kick off and give the Ravens the choice of which end zone to defend. It essentially flipped the field on Cincy in OT, as they elected not to try and kick a 50 yard field goal into the windswept end and instead went for it on 4th and 2 from the Baltimore 33 yard line. When the Bengals lost 11 yards on the play, the Ravens got the ball on their own 44 yard line. Even a bad Baltimore offense can scoot the ball along 25 yards without coughing it up, which is exactly what happened to give Tucker his 46 yard game-winner.
Lewis will regret not punting on 4th and 2. And he’ll be questioned about taking the ball to start overtime and giving the Ravens the easy end of the field to work with, wind-wise. That said, neither of those elements dwarf his team’s biggest problem on Sunday: Andy Dalton stunk up the joint. If he’s a championship quarterback, I’m the lead singer for Alice in Chains.
Truthfully, from the first whistle until Green’s miracle grab on the final play, the Bengals had zero business even being in the game. They were disjointed, undisciplined and largely more interested in accumulating penalty flags than points throughout most of the afternoon. It wasn’t until Baltimore’s offense fizzled in the final two minutes of the game that the visitors even had a breath of life.
If ever the Ravens grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat, Sunday’s game did just that.
And that’s after they allowed the Bengals to meander their way back into the contest when it looked like they weren’t all that interested in doing so.
That’s what happens when your offense can’t put teams away.
And that’s how it goes when you’re playing with fire defensively, knowing any small mistake can put your team behind the eight ball.
The Ravens outplayed the Bengals on Sunday.
It wasn’t an ass kicking or anything, but the Baltimore defense manned up all afternoon and put John Harbaugh’s team in position for a relatively easy win.
Then, the Baltimore offense stalled.
And the whole thing got a lot closer than it needed to get.
This Ravens team – as a whole – just doesn’t appear to be all that good. But, they’re 4-5 and still alive in the race for an AFC playoff spot. A win in Chicago next week and they’re still very much in the thick of things.
Let’s see if the offense makes the trip to Soldier Field.
If it doesn’t, we won’t be crowing about “a win is a win” this time next Sunday night.