The Bengals delivered a stirring statement to the NFL Sunday signed off by its top 10 defense when they blew out the AFC's best team at home with quarterback Joe Burrow orchestrating a devastating 28 points in a 19-minute span of the second half before a stunned sellout crowd in Baltimore.
Career highs by Burrow (416 yards passing for the sixth biggest day in Bengals history) and rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (201 yards), allowed the 5-2 Bengals to grab a first-place tie with the shell-shocked Ravens as well the top seed in the AFC playoff chase with a 41-17 victory. The 41 points were the most scored in Zac Taylor's 39 games as head coach.
Another rousing effort by the defense handed Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson his first loss in six starts against the Bengals. They held him to 15 of 31 passing for 257 yards and harassed him with numerous hits and five sacks.
Burrow was having his greatest day in the NFL with a 27-17 lead as the third quarter turned into the fourth quarter with a scorching 378 yards when he made his only two stumbles. But only after he converted two huge third-downers to wide receiver Tee Higgins (one on a tipped ball) and another wondrous catch for Chase for 27 yards on a leaping back-shoulder catch.
But with the ball at the Ravens 9, Burrow took a sack. And then on third down with 14:51 left in the game, Burrow got heavily rushed and as he was falling backward he tried to throw a jump ball to Chase double teamed in the end zone and Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey easily picked it off.
But as they did all day the Bengals defense had the answer. After Trey Hendrickson drew a holding call, they blitzed on fourth-and-seven from the Baltimore 38 and Jackson short-hopped it. It punctuated another brilliant effort where they got a season-high five sacks, tying Jackson's career high for hitting the deck. Left end Sam Hubbard had a career-high 2.5 sacks and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi added 1.5.
After completing 25 of 38 passes, Burrow handed it off four straight times and was rewarded with running back Joe Mixon's 21-yard touchdown run up the gut. It was a classic Mixonian cut-back run as he went from left to right running behind center Trey Hopkins and outran the second level.
Mixon back-up Samaje Perine ran the exact same play on the next series, popping off a 46-yard touchdown run as he cut behind Hopkins and left guard Quinton Spain to make it 41-17 with 6:59 left.
At that point the Ravens benched Jackson and Brandon Allen replaced Burrow after the emerging legend oversaw TDs of 82, 55, 46 and 32 yards. Burrow has now thrown two touchdown passes in all seven games and hit three touchdowns Sunday for back-to-back games.
Check out some of the best images from the Bengals-Ravens matchup in Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season.
Both quarterbacks opened the second half blistering. Jackson dropped a 39-yard beauty to Hollywood Brown splitting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and strong safety Vonn Bell in the end zone. But Jackson had to throw it perfectly and Brown had to make a great catch of the bottom of ball as he ran out of the back of the end zone.
That gave the Ravens a 17-13 lead. But not for long. Try 2:14. Chase, who was just getting warmed up, shook loose of Humphrey of 17 and 21 yards. The Ravens then shaded to Chase and tight end C.J. Uzomah was wide open down the middle with safety DeShon Elliott no factor on the 32-yard touchdown play that gave the Bengals the lead at 20-17.
Hendrickson rung Jackson to run his sack total to 6.6 sacks and Burrow needed just 1:39 to jack it to 27-17. Third-and-short has been miserable this year for the Bengals, but not when they pick up the blitz and Burrow gunned it to Chase over the middle for the first down.
And so much more. Chase spun away from Humphrey, broke another tackle and then ran away from linebacker Justin Houston for an 82-yard play, their longest touchdown in five years. That put Chase at 201 yards, the most for the Bengals since notorious Raven-killer A.J. Green had 227 yards in Baltimore six years ago.
The magic continued at the end of the first half. For the fifth time this season the Bengals scored in the final 37 seconds and for the fifth time they had the Burrow-Chase connection to thank as they took a 13-10 halftime lead.
On second-and-10 from the Ravens 45 with 32 seconds left, Chase got inside Humphrey and Burrow led him going across the field to the other sideline for 26 yards. Moments before they nicked Humphrey for 13 yards on a back-shoulder throw to highlight quite a drive that began at their 25 with 1:51 left.
Burrow pitched six of nine for 63 yards (including a spike) and it set up Evan McPherson's 30-yard field goal that gave them the lead.
Burrow didn't get sacked in the half but he was under heat and he calmly hit 13 of 24 for 181 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown pass to Uzomah off play action in a triple tight end set. With the ever present tackle Calais Campbell in his face, Burrow moved to his left and gunned it to Uzomah down the seam and Uzomah shrugged off Humphrey at about the 20 and ran it in to give the Bengals a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Bengals defense came up big like they had to in the first half. They held the Ravens to 172 yards and just 63 on the ground as they sacked Jackson three times and hit him four times. He completed just seven of 14 and the Bengals didn't let him off the hook until he converted a third-and-two option keep for 11 yards in the red zone. That set up their lone touchdown of the half with just 1:51 left.