BALTIMORE - While their defense held the Bengals offense without a touchdown until the final 1:28, the Ravens racked up 269 yards rushing in a relentless attack that chewed up more than 39 minutes in a 23-17 loss.
Quarterback Andy Dalton cut the deficit to seven after his second rushing touchdown of the year (a two-yard run) with 1:28 remaining in the game. However, the onside kick went short and the Bengals continue their quest for win No. 1 on the year.
The Bengals defense didn’t allow a touchdown in the second half, but they were gassed. Baltimore’s Justin Tucker kicked a chip-shot field goal to give the Ravens a 23-10 lead with 3:46 left, capping a monstrous 18-play drive consuming 9:46.
The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson became the fourth quarterback in history to rush for at least 150 yards when he went for 152 on 19 carries and also threw for 236 yards.
The Bengals got a big day from wide receiver Auden Tate with a career-high 91 yards on five catches. But that was about it. Tyler Boyd had three catches for 10 yards and Joe Mixon rushed for 10 yards on eight attempts.
The Bengals defense caught its wind in the second quarter and forced a punt to open the second half on linebacker LaRoy Reynolds’ pass defensed. But the offense couldn’t get them points on their first drive of the half that started at the Bengals 9.
Dalton went short to hit his first five passes of the half, the longest of which was 13 yards to wide receiver Alex Erickson to get the Bengals to a third-and-four from midfield. Dalton threw a nice pass to Boyd even though he didn’t get much separation running up the sideline on cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Boyd leaped and had it, but safety DeShon Elliott came over the top to pop the ball free and force a punt.
Jackson then faced a revamped Bengals secondary. One starting cornerback, Dre Kirkpatrick, was lost in the second quarter with a knee injury. The other starting corner, William Jackson III, wasn’t hurt, but he wasn’t on the fiel, it appeared, for a break, and they were going with Tony McRae in the slot and B.W. Webb on one outside and Torry McTyer on the other in taking his first Bengals’ snaps. Jackson came back on the next series.
Lamar Jackson proceeded to convert three short third-downs with a variety of flips. In between he gouged out yardage even though end Sam Hubbard got good pressure at right end. But Jackson continually scooted away. Not on the last third down, when safety Clayton Fejedelem blitzed and forced Jackson to throw it away.
That brought on Tucker and he made a 49-yarder even though he hit the left upright. That gave the Ravens a 20-10 lead with two seconds left in the third quarter.
Safety Brandon Wilson ran the Bengals into one of their quickest leads ever Sunday when he took the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but the Ravens running game led by Jackson scored the next 17 points to take a 17-10 halftime lead.
But Wilson made sure the Bengals began and ended the half with a score because he caused Ravens tight end Mark Andrews to cough up the ball on a play recovered by linebacker Nick Vigil with about 1:30 left in the half and he ran it to the Ravens 39.
Dalton (10 of 18 for 127 yards in the first half) hooked up with Tate’s back shoulder twice for 17 and 12 yards. That 17-yarder was Tate’s great third diving catch of the half, when he had four catches for 62 yards.
Tate got them into the red zone for the first time, putting them at the Baltimore 6. But their red-zone woes followed them. Runs to running backs Mixon (nothing) and Giovani Bernard (2) up the middle left them with a third down and when Dalton threw high for Erickson in the back of the end zone, the Bengals were looking for a holding call. They didn’t get it, settling for Randy Bullock’s 22-yard field goal with 36 seconds left to make it 17-10. But for the 11th time in 15 tries this season they failed to score a red-zone touchdown.
Until that drive, it was tough sledding for the offense. Dalton didn’t complete a pass until the first minute of the second half, Mixon had six yards on his first five carries (nine for the half), Boyd’s first target turned into Dalton’s interception on the edge of the red zone with 2:18 left in the half and the Ravens didn’t punt until 6:19 left in the half. The first quarter that started so brightly ended with the Ravens having 212 yards to the Bengals six.
The Bengals also saw Kirkpatrick carted off the field with a knee injury and right guard John Miller leave with a groin injury. That put McRae in the slot on defense and Alex Redmond in for Miller in his first appearance of the season.
A huge play came with 2:18 left in the half on the Bengals’ first big drive of the day that reached the Baltimore 21. It was fueled by Tate's fabulous leaping back-shoulder catch for 16 yards and Mixon’s 23 yards on a screen pass he bolted through two linebackers.
Then Dalton tried to get it to Boyd, his leading receiver. Boyd, who later had a catch for four yards for his half-time totals, was surrounded by three Ravens in the middle of the field when middle linebacker Josh Bynes dropped in front of Boyd, tipped it and the deflection was caught by Humphrey.
Wilson raced 92 yards with the opening kickoff for his first NFL touchdown to vault the Bengals into a 7-0 lead. It was the Bengals’ first kick return touchdown in nearly 10 years, when running back Bernard Scott scored the only touchdown of the War of 18-12 win in Pittsburgh on Nov. 15, 2009, snapping the NFL’s longest drought.
Wilson had terrific blocking when he cut from right to left untouched with defensive lineman Andrew Brown one of those getting a block.
But Jackson’s first two runs showed how hard it is to stop him. Jackson, who had 116 yards rushing against the Bengals last season, had 111 on nine carries at the half as the Ravens piled up 324 yards, 164 on the ground.
Jackson took his first run and cut it back up the middle for 36 yards. Then from the Bengals 21, Jackson simply rolled out left and no one was there. That was because wide receiver Willie Snead IV knocked off Vigil during the touchdown run that tied it at 7 just 3:20 after Wilson’s return. At that point Baltimore already had 71 yards rushing.
The Bengals ran it on their first two tries, one on a jet sweep by Bernard that netted two yards and put them in a third-and-six. Defensive lineman Patrick Ricard came with pressure up the left interior and tipped Dalton’s third-down pass.
The Bengals had no answer for Jackson even as they tried new personnel. Wilson started for injured safety Shawn Williams and rookie linebacker Germaine Pratt made his first NFL start. For the first part of the game they used three linebackers heavily for the first time all year. Williams checked in later in the game even though he was hurting with a sore thigh and had a nice third-down tackle of Jackson in the open field to force that first punt. Williams later had to limp off like he did last week.
The three linebackers couldn’t stop another Ravens score on the second series. On the first snap, Jackson veered for 14 yards over the right edge. On second-and-14 he hit wide-open tight end Mark Andrews for 20 yards on the left side on which Pratt was the nearest guy to him. Jackson faked running to the edge, got Vigil to commit and he picked up nine yards in the red zone and running back Mark Ingram converted a third-and-one and a one-yard touchdown run with smashes up the middle to give the Ravens a 14-7 lead with 4:01 left in the first quarter.
When the Bengals offense embarked on its second straight three-and-out to open the game with Dalton missing his first three passes, the Ravens had 97 yards rushing and the Bengals six with Jackson accounting for 79 of them on five carries.
The Ravens got a 40-yard field goal from Tucker seconds into the second quarter that was set up by another wide-open pass to Andrews on which Pratt seemed to be the closest Bengal during the 39-yard play.
Check out the best photos from the Week 6 game against the Baltimore Ravens.