The Bengals opened up the 2012 season with a disappointing showing against the defending AFC North champion Baltimore Ravens, as they were dominated throughout in all facets of the game, especially on defense. The Bengals were unable to get a consistent pass rush, and the corners couldn’t cover anything as Flacco looked like the next coming of Johnny Unitas for Baltimore.
The Ravens opened up the game with a play-action 52-yard pass to Torrey Smith as he flew by Leon Hall to make the diving reception, and just like that, the Ravens were already down to the Bengals 27-yard line. However, after a short Ray Rice run and incomplete pass by Joe Flacco, a sack by Geno Atkins on third-down forced a Ravens field goal.
The Bengals first offensive possession saw them go three-and-out after Ravens safety Bernard Pollard batted down Dalton’s third-down pass at the LOS.
The Ravens ensuing possession saw them faced with a 4th-and-1 at the CIN 20, and Ray Rice made an outstanding one-handed catch to pick up the first down. Rice would cap off the 12 play, 63-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to give the Ravens an early 10-0 lead. Rice now has 30 career touchdowns, fourth all time in Ravens history.
Dalton missed a wide-open A.J. Green down the seam on a drive late in the 1st-quarter, but the Bengals did continue to drive and got a field goal to cut the lead to 10-3.
Flacco would hit Anquan Boldin on a contorversial TD pass on the next Ravens drive. The ball appeared to get jarred loose as Boldin hit the ground in the endzone, but the paly was upheld and the Bengals were starrign at a 17-3 deficit going into halftime.
Just before the half, Dalton marched the Bengals down the field from their own 19-yard line all the way to the BAL 6 with 0:35 left in the half. On 3rd-and-1, Dalton’s pass to Gresham in the back of the endzone was batted down by Ed Reed, and on 4th-and-1, Green-Ellis plunged into the endzone for the first Bengals touchdown of the 2012 season.
The Bengals opened up the 2nd-half with a 79-yard, 12-play drive that ended with a Mike Nugent field goal to cut the lead to 17-13.
The Ravens would answer with a 9-play, 89 yard TD drive after TE Dennis Pitta out-muscled Leon Hall for a jump-ball in the endzone for the Ravens score.
On the ensuing Bengals possession, Dalton was picked off by Ed Reed, who returned his 10th career INT against Cincinnati for a 34-yard touchdown to give the Ravens a 34-13 lead.
The bleeding continued the next drive, as Ray Lewis sacked and forced the fumble onDalton, which was recovered by CB Lardarius Webb. After a pass interference call in end zone, Rice punched it in from a yard out and Baltimore opened up a 41-13 lead as they cruised to a 44-13 opening night win. It was the worst Bengals loss since the 37-0 defeat at the Jets when Cincy rested starters final week of 2009 season.
The Bengals are now 0-1 overall, and tied for 2nd-place in the AFC North after both the Steelers and the Browns lost. The Bengals will host the Browns next week in their home opener. Here are some more news and notes from tonight’s debacle:
BenJarvus Green-Ellis may have been the most impressive Bengal tonight, as the former Patriot rushed for 91 yards on 18 carries, but had 12 carries for 62 yards and a TD at halftime while the game was still close, but once the Ravens began pulling away, the Bengals were forced to abandon Ellis and the run game. His 5.1 yards per carry average was the result of his ability to find holes in the defense, as well as the offensive-line’s improved run-blocking from last season.
Overall, the Bengals had 24 rushes for 124 yards and a 4.4 ypc average against a good Ravens front-7. The offense was much more balanced, and looks promising going forward, though they’ll have to improve their redzone efficiency, as they got one TD in 3 redzone trips.
Slot receiver Andrew Hawkins is giving the Bengals a new element in the passing game with quick-hitters, as he had 8 catches for 86 yards.
Andy Dalton started well, bu t struggled in the 2nd-half as he finished the night 22/37 for 221 yards with one INT and no TDs and a 65.3 QB rating.
Joe Flacco finished his epic night 21/29 for 299 yards and 2 TDs and a 128.4 QB rating.
The Bengals did hold Ray Rice to 68 yards on 10 carries, but he did find the endzone twice.
Overall, the Bengals defense allowed 430 yards and 7.3 yards per play, which will likely be one of the worst defensive performances in week 1.
The Bengals will host the Cleveland Browns next week in a must-win scenario, as a loss to the lowly Browns would be a death sentence on what looked like a promising 2012 season when training camp opened 2 months ago. There’s still time for the Bengals to correct their issues, but they have to do it now with the Browns, Redskins, and Jaguars coming up, and while no game is easy, it will be by far the easiest stretch of games the Bengals have all year, so its now or never for this young team to get their act together and play like a team set on ending nearly 3 decades of failing to have back-to-back winning seasons.