Bengals vs. Ravens: Instant Grades and Analysis for Baltimore's Week 1 Game

Jesse ReedCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2012

Bengals vs. Ravens: Instant Grades and Analysis for Baltimore's Week 1 Game

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    The Baltimore Ravens thrashed the Cincinnati Bengals on the first Monday Night Football game of the 2012 season, winning by a final score of 44-13. 

    This game was tight in the first half, but Joe Flacco, Ed Reed and the Ravens blew the hinges off with a spectacular third quarter that saw them score 17 points. 

    We will be providing in-game grades throughout the evening. Make sure to keep this live report card open throughout the game, and follow along as we watch Flacco and the Ravens attempt to destroy their divisional opponent in Week 1. 

Joe Flacco: A

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    Final Grade — A

    Flacco has taken a massive leap forward in his development to start the 2012 season. He showed it in the preseason, and then he did it again in the team's opening game against the Bengals.

    For the game, Flacco completed 21-of-29 passes for 299 yards (10.3 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns—good for a passer rating of 128.4. He hit eight different receivers throughout the night, keeping the Bengals defense guessing all night long. 

    If Flacco can play with this kind of precision all year long, the Ravens have an excellent chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. 


    Q4 — A

    Flacco's brilliant night continued in the fourth quarter, as he led his team on one final touchdown drive before being replaced by Tyrod Taylor with about nine minutes to go. 


    Q3 — A

    Flacco continued to look sharp throughout the third quarter. He was aided by the running game, as Ray Rice started picking up steam. 

    Flacco got away with a terrible decision down at the 10-yard line mid-way through the third quarter after he threw the ball up for grabs while he was about to get sacked. Thankfully for him and the Ravens, the ball hit the ground before anyone on the Bengals could intercept it. 

    Then, on the next play, Flacco hit Dennis Pitta for a 10-yard touchdown pass. 

    Flacco was just about perfect on the team's next drive, though the drive ended up fizzling out, forcing them into a field goal attempt. Through three quarters, Flacco has completed 21-of-28 passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. 


    Q2 — A

    Flacco's impressive first quarter was but a precursor of bigger things to come. His touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin was perfect, and the way he looked off the single deep safety was absolutely textbook—not to mention he had a big man pushing right up the middle that was right in his face when he let go of the pass.

    Heading into halftime, Flacco's first-half stats are impressive. He completed 12-of-15 passes for 183 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions, and more importantly, his team leads at halftime. 


    Q1 — A-

    Flacco came out swinging for the fences right out of the gates, and on the first play of the game, he hit Torrey Smith on a gorgeous 52-yard bomb. His second throw of the first drive resulted in an incompletion as he and his receivers weren't on the same page. 

    Flacco continued to look sharp throughout the first quarter, finishing off the period having completed 7-of-9 passes for 101 yards.

    Flacco was really lucky at one point, though, with 6:39 remaining in the first quarter, when his errant pass to Ray Rice didn't get intercepted. Otherwise, Flacco was on the mark. 

Offense: A

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    Final Grade — A

    The Ravens were a legitimate juggernaut on offense on Monday night against the Bengals. 

    Flacco had a huge night, spreading the ball to eight different receivers. His favorite target in this game was tight end Dennis Pitta, who caught five passes for 73 yards and one touchdown. 

    Ray Rice didn't run the ball often, but he did manage 68 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns, and he pitched in another 25 yards on three catches.

    Torrey Smith was a big reason for the team's success through the air, drawing double teams and catching two passes for 57 yards. He was also a big part of the team's final touchdown drie, as he drew a crucial pass interference penalty that resulted in a first-and-goal. 

    The offensive line was dominant at times, but Geno Atkins was allowed to wreak havoc on the inside—proving the unit still needs to improve. 

    All in all, the defense was amazing. It'll be interesting to see if this team can keep up the same level of success throughout the regular season. 


    Q4 — A

    The Ravens took full advantage of Andy Dalton's turnover early in the fourth quarter. Joe Flacco tried to connect deep with Torrey Smith once again, drawing a pass interference penalty in the end zone that resulted in a one yard touchdown for Ray Rice. 

    Tyrod Taylor came in to replace Joe Flacco for the last nine minutes of the game, and the Ravens continued moving the football with the running game to run down the clock. 


    Q3 — A

    It took a while for the Ravens to get their chance on offense in the third quarter, but they continued right where they left off in the first half. Ray Rice started taking over, which shouldn't surprise anyone, and the Ravens moved the ball down the field at will.

    Dennis Pitta got in on the action, catching Joe Flacco's second touchdown pass of the game at the 5:18 mark of the third quarter.

    The Ravens continued to dominate throughout the quarter, and the Bengals were helpless to stop them. 


    Q2 — B

    Ray Rice got things started out on the right foot for the Ravens to start the second quarter, busting out a long run of 16 yards. From there, the Ravens just started steamrolling the Bengals, with Joe Flacco putting on a masterful performance including his 34-yard touchdown strike to Anquan Boldin.

    The most crucial play of the second quarter came at midfield on a third-and-12. Adam Jones came off a cornerback blitz and stifled the Ravens' offense with the sack of Flacco, forcing them to punt for the first time of the game. 


    Q1 — B+

    Torrey Smith made his presence felt on the first play of the game, catching a 52-yard pass from Joe Flacco, but the offensive line gave up a sack to Geno Atkins that stalled the drive, forcing the Ravens to settle for a 46-yard field goal. 

    Smith's big night continued on the second drive of the game. He took a reverse 13 yards on the first play of the Ravens' second drive. Unfortunately, Anquan Boldin fumbled on a double reverse, losing 10 yards in the process a couple of plays later. 

    Thankfully, the offensive line started protecting Flacco as the first quarter progressed, and the offense dominated the time of possession battle and continued to wear down the defense of the Bengals. 

    Ray Rice's touchdown run mid-way through the quarter was way too easy, as the offensive line opened up a super highway to the goal line. 

Defense: B

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    Final Grade: B

    After getting pushed around a little bit in the first half, the Ravens put on a defensive clinic in the second half. 

    Ray Lewis tallied an amazing 14 tackles—11 solo—and one sack. 

    Ed Reed pitched in with a vintage pick-six, and Haloti Ngata proved once again that he's one of the NFL's elite interior linemen with a studly two-sack performance. 


    Q4 — A

    The defense quickly made a positive impact in the fourth quarter. The first play of the quarter saw Ladarius Webb cream Andy Dalton on the first play—a hit that resulted in an incompletion. Then, on the next play, Ray Lewis forced Dalton to fumble on a busted play for the Bengals. The Ravens recovered the ball, and the Bengals' hopes of winning quickly vanished.

    The rest of the fourth quarter was pretty boring for the Ravens on defense, as the Bengals unsuccessfully attempted to make a comeback after going down 41-13. 


    Q3 — B+

    The defense got pushed around in the Bengals running game to start the second half, and the secondary got torched by A.J. Green and Andrew Hawking in the passing game. In the end, the defense stiffened up when it mattered most, surrendering a field goal on the Bengals' opening drive of the second half. 

    Then, on the Bengals' second drive of the third quarter right after the Ravens scored another touchdown to take a 24-13 lead, the defense shut the Bengals down.

    Finally, just to put the cherry on top, Ed Reed took an errant pass from Andy Dalton to the house for a touchdown at the end of the quarter.


    Q2 — C-

    The Ravens were victimized by a strong rushing attack of the Bengals to start the second quarter. Not surprisingly, though, they stiffened up their resolve and forced the Bengals to punt. 

    Then, with about six minutes to go in the half, the Bengals caught the Ravens on a middle linebacker blitz with the perfect playcall—a screen to Andrew Hawkins that went for 27 yards. From there, the Ravens were on the ropes on defense, and the Bengals started rolling. 

    The real back breaker was the defense's failure to stop BenJarvis Green-Ellis on a fourth-and-inches down at the 33-yard line. From there, the Bengals went on to cap off an impressive 13-play drive that ended in a six-yard touchdown run from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. 


    Q1 — C-

    I know I'm nitpicking here, but the 12 men in the huddle penalty against the Ravens with 5:30 to go in the first quarter was unacceptable. This team knows better, and the penalty gave the Bengals a little bit of momentum—something that was nonexistent before that penalty.

    Then, with 3:00 remaining in the first quarter, the Bengals had a third-and-7 when Pernall McPhee was called for an offsides penalty that allowed the Bengals to run the ball instead of pass it, securing another first down and moving them into field goal range.

    From that point on, the Bengals continued pushing their way into scoring position, and that's where we stand at the end of the first quarter. 

Special Teams: A

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    Final Grade — A

    The Ravens only made one mistake on special teams all night long, and it ended up not hurting the team anyways. 

    Justin Tucker hit on all three of his field goal attempts, and it sure looks like the team made the right call to get rid of Billy Cundiff. 


    Q4 — A

    The Ravens were solid in special teams in the fourth quarter, especially in coverage on returns.


    Q3 — B-

    A terrible decision by Deonte Thompson to take the kickoff out of the endzone after the Bengals' field goal puts Joe Flacco and the offense in a bad situation for their first possession of the third quarter. Thankfully for him, the offense charged down the field for a touchdown. 

    Justin Tucker continued to show why the team released Billy Cundiff, connecting on a 40-yard field goal that put the Ravens up 27-13 with 1:13 remaining in the third quarter.


    Q2 — A

    The Ravens were solid on special teams again in the second quarter, though there isn't really much to report. 


    Q1 — A

    After the Ravens let Billy Cundiff walk, the pressure to perform will be heavy on the shoulders of Justin Tucker. Tucker didn't disappoint. His first attempt at a field goal was good from 46 yards out, and he put the Ravens up by 3-0 early in the first quarter. 

    The Ravens' coverage team made Brandon Tate pay for an ill-advised attempt to take a kickoff out of the endzone with about six minutes remaining in the first, stopping him at the 13-yard line. 

Coaching: B+

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    Final Grade — B+

    John Harbaugh and his coaching staff did an excellent job gameplanning for this game. Their players executed the gameplan to perfection, and if not for a foolish decision to keep Joe Flacco in the game and continue throwing when the game was well in hand, this crew would earn an A. 


    Q4 — C

    The decision to keep throwing the ball after going up 41-13 doesn't make any sense to me. Ray Rice is ont of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and the best call would have been to just run the clock out. As it was, Joe Flacco got creamed by Geno Atkins with 10 minutes left on the clock—something that should not happen with such a huge lead. 


    Q3 — B

    Defensive coordinator Dean Pees hasn't made the appropriate adjustments to what the Bengals have been doing with Andrew Hawkins in the screen game, and it cost the Ravens three points.

    John Harbaugh's decision to challenge the spot of a catch at the 4:32 mark of the quarter turned out to be a terrific call, as it turned a long catch by Andrew Hawkings that was supposedly a first down into a fourth-and-four. The Bengals were forced to punt, and the momentum swung all the way over to the Ravens.


    Q2 — B+

    The Ravens continued to run an efficient offense in the second quarter, and the game Cam Cameron is calling right now continues to keep Mike Zimmer and the Bengals' defense off balance.

    John Harbaugh made a smart timeout with 27 seconds left in the second quarter to make sure his team didn't get hit with a penalty for 12 men on the field. 


    Q1 — A

    I was surprised to see so many trick plays from the Ravens on offense to start the game. The only thing I can think of is that Cam Cameron is hoping to catch the Bengals sleeping on a similar formation later in the game. 

    The decision to go for it on fourth-and-one with 7:23 remaining in the first quarter just shy of the Bengals' 20-yard line was questionable, but Joe Flacco and Ray Rice made it work, and the drive resulted in a touchdown. 


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