The loss to the Ravens yesterday was a tough one to take, and Bengals fans are buzzing about the controversial non-touchdown call on TE Jermaine Gresham‘s improbable, bobbling catch that was ruled a touchdown on the field. After a long 5 minutes of review that seemed to kill any momentum that the Bengals had, Head Referee Ron Winters announced that Gresham failed to maintain possession when he went to the ground out of bounds (known informally as the Calvin Johnson rule [video]), therefore it was an incompletion and the Bengals would have to settle for a short field goal. The ruling had major implications later in the game. The Bengals would have been down only 31-28 and would have been able to kick a field goal to tie the game, instead of going for the touchdown on fourth down on the Ravens 17 yard line.
Unfortunately, rules (even ones that should be removed from the rule book) are rules. And the Bengals were the ones that dug themselves in such a big hole in the first place.
Let’s get into the film review, quarter by quarter.
The defense held Ravens to only 1 first down through three possessions, including two three and outs. The run defense was incredible, stuffing both Ravens RBs Ray Rice and Ricky Williams several times. Rice and QB Joe Flacco couldn’t connect on several short passes, and WRs Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith were blanketed.
Andy Dalton led the Bengals down the field for an impressive 7-play, 82 yard touchdown drive on the second series. However, the Bengals offense went three-and-out on their first possession, and only managed 9 total yards on the third possession. The scoring drive was helped largely by Jerome Simpson‘s impressive 47-yard reception, but other than that, the offense honestly failed to move the ball. A 11-yard defensive pass interference call pushed the Bengals to the goal line. Benson was stuffed repeatedly at the line (rushing for 1, 0, 3, 2, and -1 yards on his first 5 carries) and only saw daylight on his 7-yard touchdown run.
In the end, the offense holds back the A+ effort by the defense. Grade: B
The 2nd quarter was an entirely different story for the defensive side of the ball. After a miserable 15-yard punt by Bengals punter Kevin Huber, the Ravens offense had their best field position of the day so far on their own 45 yard line. They capitalized with a 4-play, 55 yard touchdown drive. 35 of the yards came on a touchdown reception to a wide open Anquan Boldin, which was his only catch of the day. This was the first big play allowed by the defense, and they allowed a 49 yard completion to Torrey Smith on the following drive. Smith’s burst of speed when the ball was in the air proved too much for Nate Clements, who had a solid day otherwise. The next two Ravens possessions were stifled by the Bengals impressive run defense. If not for 2 big plays in the second quarter, the Bengals defense would have held the Ravens scoreless in the first half.
The offense absolutely sputtered in the second quarter. Their four drives ended in punt, punt, punt, interception. Two open the quarter, Dalton threw 5 straight incompletions (1 to Caldwell, 1 to Hawkins, 1 to Benson, and 2 to Simpson), and Benson was stuffed again for 2 yards. They were finally able to move the ball 30 yards on their third possession, with Scott showing a bit of burst in the run game, but had to punt again. Their next possession was another three and out. Only when Bengals CB Nate Clements picked off Joe Flacco did the Bengals find some traction with the offense. They managed three straight short completions to RB Brian Leonard, but Dalton’s bomb to WR Andre Caldwell on the following play was picked off by S Ed Reed to end the half. The ball was underthrown by Dalton into double coverage, but you have to imagine AJ Green would have made a better play on the ball if he had played in the game.
A very poor quarter on both sides of the ball. The Bengals run defense saves the grade from being an F. Grade: D-