BALTIMORE - Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was adamant about Sunday's 23-17 loss to the Ravens that wasn't certain until an on-side kick with 1:28 left.
"I don't care what the stats say," said Taylor of a sheet that told how his defense gave up at least 266 yards rushing for the second straight week. "Those guys gave us a chance in the second half. They scored on the first three drives and we thought it was going to be rough. But they buckled down and gave up two field goals the remainder of the game. That's what we needed from them. That's the response we needed from them.
"That's not a normal response from a team that's 0-5 and giving up as many rushing yards as we're giving up. The response was to buckle down and step up and give a chance and they did that."
The defense did it with a new-look lineup, partly from injury (Carl Lawson at left end for Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Wilson for Shawn Williams at left end) and a new look (rookie Germaine Pratt at middle linebacker), but they couldn't stop Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson as he became the fourth quarterback in history to rush for 150 yards with 152 yards on 19 carries. A week after allowing 266 yards on the ground to the Cardinals, they gave up 269 Sunday. It's the seventh most yards allowed in team history. Next on the list is the 267 they allowed to the Ravens in this very building 11 months ago. It's also the most rushing yards allowed since they gave the Steelers 275 in the first game at Heinz Field on Oct. 7, 2001.
Right end Sam Hubbard spent his day chasing Jackson.
"When he runs the boot, all you can do is get high and make him stay inside and then he makes a great throw across his body," Hubbard said. "Credit to him for being a great player. All you can do is stay in your rush lanes. We played a lot of five-man lines trying to get a body in every lane. We did a good job winning some one on ones and getting pressure on him. He can circle the defense when he makes you miss, make the next guy miss."
Like the third-and-17 late in the game he converted.
"Made something out of nothing with his legs," Hubbard said.
Williams had another purple heart day with his sore thigh. They tried to cut back his snaps by starting Wilson, but he was in there soon enough and he kept playing until he limped off like he did last week.
'We had to figure out what they were doing, but when we did, we did a pretty good job of adjusting," Williams said. "One thing I feel like we could have focused on more was keeping Lamar [Jackson] in the pocket. He is a good athlete, a good quarterback. He makes that team run. In the second half, when we made our adjustment, we really played well."
- Safety Brandon Wilson gave Taylor the early spark he wanted when he opened the game with a score on a 92-yard kick.
"I only had to make one cut. That's how good the blocking was," said Wilson, who couldn't ever remember if he went untouched like he did Sunday.
Safety Clayton Fejedelem, special teams captain, on the blocking: "I was looking down at three bodies."
Wilson was all of 15 the last time the Bengals went all the way with a kickoff. Running back Bernard Scott scored the only touchdown in the War of 18-12 on Nov. 15, 2009 in Pittsburgh, ending the longest drought in the league.
And what an ending. It came against the NFL's No. 1 kick cover team.
- For the third straight game the Bengals didn't have a touchdown in the first three quarters and Taylor was unhappy with how the offense responded, particularly a running game that got 2.4 yards per carry on 14 shots.
"It's frustrating, trust me. You can throw out every stat that you want," Taylor said. "We're not scoring points. We're not scoring touchdowns. Our red zone efficiency is terrible. But, the bottom line is, we're 0-6, and our team has more fight than anybody I've been around. I just told them when we do find that win, it's going to be the most rewarding win you've had in your entire life."
That red zone efficiency? This season they've been in the red zone 16 times with five TDs.
"They had all their guys in the box. They made it hard for us to run," Dalton said.
The Bengals thought they had better matchups in the pass game with the Ravens taking away leading receiver Tyler Boyd (three catches, 10 yards). They refused to give up the big play, Dalton's longest pass was 29 yards on the last drive, but the Bengals did get 235 yards on Dalton's short passing of 21 for 39 for 235 yards.
But down 17-7 late in the first half inside the Ravens 5 they couldn't get a touchdown, the 15th trip in the red zone this year and the 11th time no touchdown. Taylor thought wide receiver Alex Erickson got held in the end zone on third down and so did Erickson.
"But we know that's the way they play," Erickson said. "They're physical. I thought he pulled me and I couldn't get around him to get the ball. I just have to keep fighting through that."
- With Boyd blanketed wide receiver Auden Tate had career-high 91 yards on five catches, mainly on back-shoulder throws.
"Tate has the size and the ability we all had being 6-5 and (228) pounds whatever he weighs," Erickson said. "Andy and him have a good relationship. Andy knows where Tate feels comfortable and Tate knows where Andy feels comfortable so they do a great job feeding off that. That really helped us."
It was Boyd's fewest yards he had in a game since he had one catch for five yards on Nov. 19, 2017 in Denver.
"Auden's a guy that's so big, you've just got to give him opportunities to make plays," Dalton said. "You can see with a lot of the catches that he had, using his size and with the ability to track the ball, he was able to make the play."
_Wide receiver A.J. Green said he didn't run routes before the game, but he said he was OK.
_Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick departed the locker room in a knee brace with an MRI scheduled for either Sunday night or Monday.
"That's devastating," said William Jackson. "He's one of the leaders in the locker room. He's a good guy. It's football, it's what we signed up for. I'll be glad when we get him back."