Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Observations and Analysis
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The Baltimore Ravens fell to 1-1 after a very disappointing showing from their new and improved offense.
Losing games 15-10 is not what any Ravens fans were expecting this year, and the offense needs to improve to meet expectations.
The statistics tell the story of a great defensive battle, with both teams just over 250 total yards and just 14 first downs. Even the breakdown of passing to rushing yards was very similar.
The difference in the game was the turnovers. Joe Flacco threw four interceptions. While the Bengals didn't score many points off those mistakes, the turnovers stopped what could have been point-scoring drives by the Ravens.
The Ravens defense remains outstanding. They now have two complete games without giving up a touchdown, and an average PPG allowed of 12.5. With a statistic like that, the offense doesn't need to be explosive or remarkable.
This Ravens team is beginning to look like the team that won the Super Bowl in 2000. While that template isn't flashy, it's effective.
The Ravens need to put the ball in the hands of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. They need to manage time of possession, and they need to wear defenses down physically.
To give credit where it is due, the Bengals have a stout defense and played very well against the Ravens. But the Ravens need to build a solid game plan, and when their passing game begins to struggle, revert to their outstanding running game and let that set up the possession passing game.
Every quarterback will have an off game. It was obvious Flacco was having one, other than the first drive of the second half. When that happens, Cam Cameron needs to make the right adjustments to help Flacco regain his confidence. Remember, this is just a third-year starter.
That said, the team needs better execution from all aspects of the offense, including the quarterback. I think they may be taking more risks knowing the defense can hold, but if the team isn't executing at all, go back to the basics that work.
I don't want to hear any more about penalties. Yes, both the tripping call in the third quarter and the roughing the passer call against Suggs were awful. But the referees didn't throw four interceptions. There are going to be bad calls both ways in every game—the players need to execute well enough for those bad calls not to matter.
The team is good enough to win without being fancy; they can play smashmouth physical running football. Had they done more of that on Sunday, they might be 2-0.
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