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Week Five Recap
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The Ravens entered “Sunday Night Football” in Week 5 having lost a record five straight games on their own turf. But none other than Justin Tucker snapped that streak in a big way against the rival Bengals. The most accurate kicker in NFL history got four different opportunities at points under the prime-time lights, and he delivered on all four, including a 58-yarder and the game-winning 43-yard field goal as time expired. Lamar Jackson’s own legs helped seal the Ravens’ 19-17 win, which cemented Baltimore atop the AFC North and sent Joe Burrow and Co. below .500.
The Ravens’ close win also halted a run of blown leads at home. Among the team’s five consecutive home losses coming into Sunday night’s rivalry were games in which Baltimore was up by 17 and 21 points but still lost. Jackson helped the Ravens out to a 10-0 lead in Sunday’s contest, but the Bengals knotted it up ahead of halftime. Tucker, meanwhile, has now made 72 straight field goals in the second half and overtime, including a record 59 straight in the fourth quarter and OT, per the Baltimore Sun.
Here are some additional takeaways from Sunday night’s AFC North showdown:
They held the ball last. In all seriousness, Sunday’s matchup wasn’t the prettiest, with both sides struggling on third downs and failing to produce efficiently through the air, so it did help that Baltimore controlled the ball to close the game. Jackson was even more erratic than usual while slinging it deep, missing several wide-open targets downfield. But No. 8 came alive late with one rope to Mark Andrews after another, and his shiftiness outside the pocket came in handy on some key runs to set up Tucker’s game-winning field goal as time expired. Despite some decent gains from both J.K. Dobbins and Kenyan Drake out of the backfield, Jackson remained the difference-maker on the ground.
Defensively, the Ravens were easily at their best since the team’s Week 1 rout of the Jets. Coordinator Mike Macdonald, much-maligned in recent weeks, dialed up blitzes at the right times as three different players got to Burrow. While his unit allowed a late 13-play scoring drive that allowed Cincy to claim a brief 17-16 lead, it also stuffed the Bengals on a separate red-zone effort, with Marcus Peters breaking up a reverse; and saw Patrick Queen log an easy pick of Burrow earlier in the night.
It’s something of a tired criticism to pin blame on Zac Taylor for their lack of offensive rhythm, but the predictability problems persisted for Cincinnati: too often early on, Burrow and Co. ran when under center and threw in the Shotgun — which sounds fine until you realize how incredibly rare it is for them to mix in play-action or Shotgun runs. Joe Mixon moved fine taking 14 carries, but Burrow had a tough time sustaining drives with such stale strategy, let alone Tee Higgins disappearing due to injury.
When Taylor did veer into creative play calls, he did so at the wrong time, killing a red-zone trip with a double reverse and shovel pass that essentially took the ball out of Burrow’s hands. A combined 13 catches from Ja’Marr Chase and Hayden Hurst couldn’t save the effort, and neither could another lively outing from the defense, which picked off Jackson and held the Ravens QB to just 5.4 yards per attempt. In a close game with a nearly even time of possession, they simply couldn’t find explosiveness.
Immediately after the Bengals marched 75 yards, milking almost eight minutes off the clock to take a 17-16 lead in the fourth, the Ravens turned to what they do best: the ground game. After a penalty on Cincy pushed Baltimore to its own 45-yard line, Jackson ripped off a 19-yard gain weaving in and out of would-be tacklers down the right side. His read-option run took the ball all the way to the Bengals’ 36 and allowed the Ravens to control the clock while inching deeper into Tucker territory for the win.
The Ravens were up three with just over four minutes left in the third quarter, when Burrow and Co. came knocking at the door. Taylor even dialed up something creative (!) for the Bengals’ red zone trip, unfurling a would-be “Philly Special” double reverse. But Marcus Peters ruined the entire thing — and preserved Baltimore’s lead — by flying in to knock Tyler Boyd off his feet and set up third-and-goal on a drive the Bengals would close without points.
📺: #CINvsBAL on NBC
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The Ravens (3-2) will hit the road for a matchup with Brian Daboll’s Giants (4-1), who upset the Packers in London on Sunday morning. The Bengals (2-3), meanwhile, will hit the road to take on the Saints (2-3), who edged the Seahawks in a shootout.
Ravens travel to East Rutherford, NJ to take on the Giants next week. Bengals head to New Orleans to play the Saints.
Nails it. Because of course he does. Ravens go to 3-2 and take over first place in the AFC North. Bengals drop to 2-3.
Looks like they’re going to run it down now, and Tucker will have a 43-yard field goal attempt to win it.
So the Ravens can either convert here and make the field goal even easier, or if they get stopped, they can run the clock all the way down and kick almost at the buzzer.
Now they’re in range. And have a chance to get themselves to the end zone and run some more clock. Lamar on the zone read, right up the middle for a big gain.
Ravens already getting somewhat close to Tucker’s range.
Muscle it in, together 👊 @JoeyB and the @Bengals tie this game up with 2 min to go!
📺: #CINvsBAL on NBC
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/Izvnl1kmB4 pic.twitter.com/LXKY7gpkEb
McPherson JUST snuck that one in there. Wow.
Interesting execution of the sneak there with the tight end going in motion and stopping behind Burrow to push him into the end zone. Cool stuff.
That’s a big win in a contested catch situation for Chase working on Marlon Humphrey. Back-shoulder throw that was not all that accurate, but he used his body to get back inside of Humphrey.
Chase has been working in tight windows all night. Not a lot of room for him to operate. Without Tee Higgins, the Ravens are not paying all that much attention to anyone else.
How many throws has Burrow had batted down at the line of scrimmage tonight? Feels like a lot.
Ravens 4th-and-1 with 9:46 left
WP Go: 81.1%
WP Kick: 74.9%
Ravens probably should be going for it here. Kicking a field goal to go up by 6 doesn’t provide nearly as much value as teams think it does. But the Ravens had a high-profile go-for-it failure come back to bite them last week, so they kick it.
Almost a huge play by Germaine Pratt. Batted Lamar’s pass out of the air and chased after it for the pick, but Lamar threw his body in between to help it fall to the ground instead.
“Mark Andrews on a crossing route.” Feel like I should just copy/paste this a bunch of times when the Ravens are on offense.
That is a ROPE from Lamar to Andrews over the middle. Ravens needed that to get their passing game back on track.
Boy that play call…
Cincy Special goes absolutely nowhere and suddenly it’s third-and-goal from nearly the 20-yard line. Marcus Peters ready it perfectly.
Penalty on Marcus Peters would have extended the drive either way, but Perine did a nice job catching and creating some yardage to get the first down. Now the Bengals are really threatening to take the lead for the first time tonight.
Looked like Chase may have been blocking too early on that WR quick screen to Tyler Boyd, but he got away with it. Sets up third-and-short.
Justin Tucker, automatic, even from 58 yards out.
QUEEN OF THE NORTH 👑@Patrickqueen_ gets the INT
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If Queen didn’t pick that, Josh Bynes was picking it.
What in the world was Burrow looking at? There were three bodies between him and Chase on that throw.
Oh wow… The Ravens faked the tight end surprise sneak, snuck Mark Andrews into the flat, he drew a ton of coverage and opened things up for Tylan Wallace downfield… and Lamar missed him. Perfect play call, executed perfectly right up until Lamar airmailed it down the field.
Fourth-and-short coming up for the Ravens. Lamar Jackson wants to go for it. Justin Tucker thought he was coming out for a long field goal.
What a run by J.K. Dobbins. Broke a bunch of tackles and just kept his legs moving to pick up the first down. He looks great tonight.
We’ll go into halftime with these two teams tied at 10-10. Winner gains sole possession of first place in the AFC North a little less than a third of the way through the season.
Bengals best OL, Jonah Williams, now off the field. And the OL has already been having issues. Not the best situation to be in. But Burrow moving the ball down the field anyway.
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