In a hard-fought AFC showdown at M&T Bank Stadium, the Cincinnati Bengals faced a challenging night against the Baltimore Ravens, marked by injuries to key players and a 34-20 defeat. The game took a toll on the Bengals’ standings and injury list, with Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow sidelined due to a sprained wrist and top cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt nursing a quad injury.
Head coach Zac Taylor provided insights into Burrow’s condition, describing it as a sprained wrist, speculating that the injury occurred during the game. This setback came at a crucial moment for the Bengals, already grappling with a 5-5 record and aspirations of clinching their third consecutive AFC North title, now hanging by a thread at less than one percent.
The Ravens, leading the AFC North with an 8-3 record, also faced injury challenges. Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews exited the game early with an ankle injury, and quarterback Lamar Jackson required significant attention to his left ankle after a tackle by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson.
Despite the Ravens’ setbacks, the Bengals bore the brunt of the challenges on the field. Burrow’s absence became apparent after he threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Joe Mixon, giving the Bengals a 10-7 lead with 5:49 left in the first half. However, the Ravens responded with a relentless offensive display, scoring on four consecutive drives and establishing a commanding 21-10 halftime lead.
Burrow’s backup, Jake Browning, entered the game with 2:20 left in the first half. The Bengals struggled to generate a first down, leading to a swift 80-yard touchdown drive by the Ravens just before halftime. Browning finished the game with eight completions on 14 attempts for 68 yards.
The Bengals’ defense faced a formidable Ravens offense, with Jackson completing 16 of 26 passes for 264 yards and a passer rating of 121.4. The Ravens’ pass rush, a force to be reckoned with, recorded five sacks, applying equal pressure to both Burrow and Browning. Pro Bowl wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase managed only one catch for ten yards by the two-minute warning, but he salvaged a two-yard touchdown pass from Browning in the closing moments of the game.
The first half proved to be a tale of two quarterbacks for the Bengals. Burrow, completing his last seven passes, showcased his prowess with a 12-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that mirrored the Ravens’ playbook by consuming 7:22 of game time. Unfortunately, the positive momentum came to a screeching halt when Burrow, attempting to grip the ball, encountered difficulties and headed to the locker room.
The Bengals’ secondary, still reeling from their previous game against the Texans, struggled against the Ravens’ receivers. Jackson exploited vulnerabilities, completing 12 of 19 passes for 186 yards. Penalties plagued the Bengals, with three pass-interference calls in the first half, two of which occurred in the final drive leading to a Ravens touchdown just before halftime.
Taylor-Britt, injured during the same drive, joined Burrow on the sidelines for the remainder of the game with a quad injury. The Bengals’ struggles extended to their first possession, as they failed to score a touchdown for the sixth consecutive game. Burrow faced challenges with a mixed-up formation and a broken-up pass to Boyd, resulting in a field goal by Evan McPherson to cut the Ravens’ lead to 7-3.
McPherson continued to showcase his kicking prowess, drilling a 50-yarder, but narrowly missing a subsequent 53-yard attempt. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson, initially not expected to play, made a significant impact with a four-yard loss and a sack on the second series.
The Bengals’ defensive efforts, featuring Taylor-Britt defending against long passes and rookie safety Jordan Battle harassing Jackson on blitzes, couldn’t stem the Ravens’ offensive surge. The Ravens’ 60th penalty of the season, a face-mask call, provided a brief respite for the Bengals, but they were unable to capitalize.
As the Bengals navigate the aftermath of this gruelling matchup, qs luestioninger about the extent of Burrow’s wrist injury and the timeline for Taylor-Britt’s return. The team faces a critical juncture in the season, with the need to regroup, address defensive vulnerabilities, and potentially explore quarterback options if Burrow remains sidelined.
While the first half of the game proved excruciating for the Bengals, the second half showcased glimpses of resilience and determination. The road ahead remains uncertain, and the Bengals must confront injuries, defensive challenges, and offensive inconsistencies to stay competitive in the fiercely contested AFC North.