The Cincinnati Bengals have arrived. In Week 7, they took the Baltimore Ravens to task with a 41-17 blowout win in Baltimore, a week after a similar result in Detroit. We’re starting to run out of reasons to doubt this team that easily could be 6-0 right now with a bit more luck.
This one was a complete team win for the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite another slow start on offense, they rattled off 28 unanswered points in the second half. Lamar Jackson put up 345 yards of total offense and it still wasn’t anywhere close to enough to overcome an absolutely dominating effort by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincinnati Bengals Position Grades: Offense
Quarterback grade: A
It wasn’t a perfect game for #9. But, Burrow flashed his impeccable pocket presence all day against the Ravens. He didn’t let his mistakes turn into patterns and still managed to put up 416 yards and three touchdowns through the air. His chemistry and trust in his receivers was on full display as he carved up the Ravens’ secondary.
Unfortunately, that trust in Ja’Marr Chase bit him early in the fourth quarter. He slightly overthrew Chase on a touchdown attempt, likely expecting Chase to either come down with it or knock the ball away. Instead, Marlon Humphrey came up with a pick in the end zone that looked like it might give the Ravens a chance to build some late momentum.
It was a script the Ravens have executed many times this season. It’s also one the Cincinnati Bengals have been on the wrong side of many times in Zac Taylor’s career. The interception would be Burrow’s final pass attempt of the night. But, his performance to that point proved to be enough to allow the Bengals to coast the rest of the game after a big defensive stop.
Running Back grade: B+
Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine didn’t have a ton of opportunities to touch the ball this week. But, they were generally pretty efficient when they did. Early in the game, there were some pretty head-scratching inefficiencies running the ball on third and short. But, ultimately both running backs finished with over 4.7 yards per run. You’ll take numbers like that all day long.
At the end of the day, all that efficiency only translated to just over 50 rushing yards for either back. But, there’s something major to be said about both players putting up touchdowns on back to back drives in the middle of the fourth quarter.
The scores iced the game for a Cincinnati Bengals team that was already playing with extreme confidence. But, the second Mixon broke that 21-yard run into the end zone, you knew the game was basically over.
Then, Perine hit one for 46 yards on the next drive. There’s no coming back from that.
Wide Receiver grade: B+
How can I criticize this unit too much when Ja’Marr Chase goes absolutely off for 201 yards and a touchdown? One of which was an absolutely mesmerizing 82-yard catch-and-run where he broke three tackles before sprinting down the length of the field.
That play broke the game wide open at 27-17 and might go down as one of the greatest highlights in Bengals history.
It was a struggle for the rest of the unit. Tee Higgins overcame an up and down first half performance to make an impact in the second half. In fact, at one point, he caught an 11-yard pass and absolutely trucked the defender for a key 3rd down conversion.
That came despite a defensive pass interference and the Bengals ended up with the ball at the 9 after looking like they might get stopped at midfield. Unfortunately, the end of that drive saw Burrow’s interception so the good plays from the drive will likely be forgotten about.
Tyler Boyd also struggled to make much of an impact for the Cincinnati Bengals. He did have a nice 25-yard catch at the beginning of that interception drive. But, the rest of his night was pretty quiet.
Tight End grade: B+
Drew Sample continues to be a complete non-factor in this offense. Zac Taylor’s tenure is starting to be known for very good performances in the draft. But, Sample is starting to look like a complete whiff. The Bengals selected him in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but he’s only caught two of his five targets this year. He no longer appears to be part of this team’s offensive thought process.
CJ Uzomah, on the other hand, is having a career year so far. He’s already at 256 yards receiving and five touchdowns on the year. Two of those touchdowns came on Sunday in the form of 55 and 32 yarders that helped the Bengals keep pace with the Ravens offense, before the game broke wide open late in the third quarter.
Another reception late in the second quarter gave him a final tally of 91 receiving yards on the day. One more catch and he could have broken the 100-yard mark.
Offensive line grade: B+
Joe Burrow was sacked HOW MANY TIMES against the Ravens? That’s right, once. This is a Ravens team that came into this game tied with the Bengals for the 10th most sacks in the NFL. Jackson Carman, in particular, had a really nice game.
That’s huge, because the Cincinnati Bengals really need him to develop into a franchise right guard after making the controversial decision to trade down in the draft for him. Over the last couple of weeks, he seems to be showing that was a good call.
Jonah Williams, on the other hand, had a rough game. In his defense, he had a really tough matchup this week against Justin Houston. But, you still have to come ready to play and he was visibly worked throughout much of the game.
Cincinnati Bengals Position Grades: Defense
Defensive line grade: A+
If there was a criticism you could make for this unit, it’s allowing 88 yards rushing to the opposing quarterback. However, considering that opposing quarterback is Lamar Jackson, I’ll let it slide. Particularly because this unit regularly got in Jackson’s face for five sacks.
It’s the second time in Zac Taylor’s tenure the Bengals have compiled that many sacks. The last time was a meaningless Week 17 game against the Cleveland Browns. Both teams’ seasons were over at that point, so you could argue Sunday’s sack total was more impressive.
On top of that, the Bengals only allowed 2.25 yards per run to Ravens players not named Lamar Jackson. A lot of that had to do with incredible performances from the boys up front. The only member of the starting four defensive linemen who didn’t have a flashy play was DJ Reader. Even then, both of his tackles allowed less than two yards.
Linebacker grade: B
It was a quieter night from the Bengals’ linebacker corps. Tight ends Mark Andrews and Josh Oliver looked like they were ready to break out in the second quarter. But, the Bengals got back on top of them in the second half and ultimately didn’t allow either to find the endzone.
Logan Wilson once again led the team in total tackles (7). He did a lot of cleaning up Lamar Jackson breakaway runs. But, he also absolutely stoned Le’Veon Bell for a five yard loss on the Ravens’ first drive of the game.
That play set the tone for the Bengals’ defense the rest of the game. Just another day at the office for Wilson, who is starting to look like a star.
Cornerback grade: A-
The Cincinnati Bengals saw snaps from almost their entire cornerback roster this week from Chidobe Awuzie, to Eli Apple, to the newly acquired Tre Flowers. Outside of the one time Chidobe Awuzie got beat for a 39-yard touchdown by Marquise Brown, I don’t think any of them had a particularly bad play.
One of my favorite plays of the game came with 4:26 left in the third quarter. The Bengals’ defense was trying to hold on to a 10-point lead and Lamar Jackson found Marquise Brown for a quick play. Awuzie and Mike Hilton were right there at the perfect spot to stop the play short of a first down.
Hilton got faked out of his cleats. But, Awuzie stood firm and allowed only 3 yards, forcing a punt on the following play. It nearly led to a game-icing score on the following drive, except Burrow threw an interception in the end zone.
Safety grade: A
Jessie Bates’ claim as the best safety in the NFL is much quieter this year, but still very much alive. The splash plays are just not happening. But, to be fair, the defense as a whole isn’t really generating them. In fact, they don’t really need them to dominate opponents.
So, Bates gets to focus on being an elite cleanup crew in the passing game and a FORCE in the running game. Vonn Bell too. When opponents are making it to the third level, these two are simply not letting them get much else accomplished.
Special teams grades: A-
This may have been the most complete game Darrin Simmons’ unit has played all year. Evan McPherson easily converted both of his field goal attempts. One of them was a 52-yard attempt. Most NFL kickers are tested at that range, but McPherson didn’t blink and worked his way back to being known as ‘Money’.
Kevin Huber had a rough first attempt when the Cincinnati Bengals were forced to punt from the Ravens’ 39. It sounds like a really bad coaching decision, but the Bengals were unable to get anything accomplished each of the last three plays so it seemed unlikely they would magically pick up 10 yards on 4th and 10.
Unfortunately, Huber put a bit too much power into his kick and the ball fell harmlessly for an easy touchback.
With such a short field to work with, you’d hope he would have pinned the Ravens inside their own 5. Coverage on the following punt wasn’t great, giving the Ravens possession at their own 29 instead of their own eight. However, the Bengals didn’t punt again until their second-to-last drive of the game. This time, Huber knocked it out of bounds at the Ravens’ 16.
Darius Phillips had a good day as a returner. On his first punt return of the day, he set the Bengals up near midfield with a 13-yard punt return that looked close to going to the house.
Coaching grade: A
I think the biggest complaint against Zac Taylor this week was the lack of creativity on 3rd and short. Fairly regularly, the Bengals simply tried to run up the middle and got stuffed. It contributed to a first half performance that really felt like the Bengals missed a bunch of opportunities to not already be in full control of the contest.
Then, the second half started. Lamar Jackson shredded the Bengals on the first drive of the third quarter. But, those were the last points the Ravens would score the rest of the game. Offensively, it was another second half explosion. Zac Taylor is becoming known for his ability to make great adjustments at halftime, and that was on full display this week.
The vision is starting to materialize in Taylor’s third season. Everyone who was ready to fire him last year is starting to look real suspect.