Posse in Effect: A Review of Ravens-Bengals Week 1
What can you say about the Baltimore Ravens 44-13 drubbing of the Cincinnati Bengals?
It was everything you want as a Ravens fan. The team kicked butt, took names and looked real good doing it. It’s exactly what you want to see.
The big story of course was Joe Flacco and the way he chewed up and spit out the Bengals defense. It started right from the jump, hitting a 52-yard bomb to Torrey Smith on the first play of the game. That play put the Bengals on notice – we will do this all night.
Smith only caught one other pass all game but the damage was done and the template for how the Ravens want to play games this year on offense was set: use Smith’s blinding speed and Flacco’s big arm to make big plays down the field, then pick them apart with wave after wave of skill players.
Ray Rice’s running and receiving.
Anquan Boldin out of the slot.
Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, aka Gronk and Hernandez South, abusing mismatched linebackers and safeties.
And just when you think you’ve stopped all them, there’s Jacoby Jones catching balls and Vonta Leach catching dumpoffs and destroying linebackers.
It’s a full arsenal and Flacco looked as in control of it all as I’ve ever seen him. This group of players and the shotgun, no-huddle style the Ravens are running plays perfectly to his strengths. He can get rid of the ball quick. He can go deep. And if all else fails, hand it off to Rice and let the little man work.
The Bengals quite literally never had a chance. The only way they could win was by milking the clock running the Law Firm (aka BenJarvus Green-Ellis) and they actually did a decent job for a stretch there in the 2nd quarter and early in the 3rd. The problem is, if the Ravens are scoring every time they have the ball, you find yourself down 21 points before you know it you get desperate and make a mistake.
That's what happened to the Bengals, who got down 14 and saw their quarterback Andy Dalton - competing with WWE's Sheamus for best current ginger athlete - throw a pick-6 to Ed Reed and take several big hits as the Ravens unleashed the dogs on him.
There really wasn't a whole lot to not like about this game, although if one is to nitpick, you could single out the suspect run defense, which allowed Green-Ellis to gain chunks of yardage and keep the Ravens off-balance. And the 4-man pass rush without Terrell Suggs is still a concern. One encouraging sign was the play of rookie Courtney Upshaw who got some pressure. Someone is going to have to get some consistent rush without T-Sizzle.
I also didn't like coach John Harbaugh leaving Flacco in to throw the ball up 41-13 in the 4th quarter and take an unnecessary hit. That whole last 1st team series I found myself yelling at Harbs to stop playing around and get Tyrod Taylor and Bernard Pierce in there.
I will give ESPN credit for one thing: they waited until the 2nd quarter to give us the footage of Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff in the AFC Championship Game. I fear in the Week 3 rematch against New England we're going to be bombarded with it even though neither Evans or Cundiff is on the roster anymore.
By the way, Justin Tucker was picture perfect in his debut as the Ravens kicker, and I'm glad ESPN pointed out that Cundiff was not cut because of the AFC title game miss, but because Tucker legitimately beat him out.
Like I said though, it's hard to complain about this one. The Ravens were so thorough in their efficiency - only punting twice - that they made it look easy at times.
I'm actually more interested in how the Ravens do in Week 2 against Philadelphia. The Ravens found themselves in a similar position last year, coming off a blowout win over a divisional opponent, garnering plenty of media hype and playing an unfamiliar foe in Week 2.
The Ravens failed that test last year against a mediocre Tennessee team. This year, they face an Eagles team that struggled against a bad Cleveland team in a 1-point win.
The Ravens cannot overlook Philly, which has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and look ahead to the big time revenge game lurking against the Patriots in Week 3. If they do that, Michael Vick, Desean Jackson and Shady McCoy will burn them.