The Cincinnati Bengals’ season has turned into a spiral as the frustrations continued to build with a 26-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Lack of play on both sides of the ball proved again the Bengals are not playoff caliber. The injuries of main position players such as tackle Levi Jones and center Rich Braham have hurt the team’s production as well, but it doesn’t have any consistency in its play and it showed on the field.
The game got off to a bad start as Bengals kick-returner Chris Perry fumbled the ball on the opening play, which led to a quick score by the Ravens’ offense, making it 7-0. Shortly thereafter, Carson Palmer threw an interception that Baltimore’s Ed Reed returned for a touchdown.
In just 4:30 minutes of game time, the Ravens was up 14-0. Baltimore was 42-1 going into the game, so the numbers were against the Bengals.
The Bengals’ offense was inconsistent as Palmer couldn’t get anything going. No presence was on the ground and the throws were too high for the receivers to catch.
The Ravens extended its lead 17-0 with a field goal by Matt Stover.
Palmer responded with a 26-yard touchdown pass to T. J. Houshmandzedah and cut the score to 17-7.
No matter what the Bengals put on the board, the fumble by Perry at the beginning of the game dug a hole too deep for the Bengals to get out of.
Cincinnati created a spark in the second half, which gave fans hope. They had pulled the score in 26-20, with a 51-yard field goal and 4:31 remaining in the fourth quarter. Then, with the ball and 3:20 remaining on the clock, the Bengals had enough time to get a game winning score.
Palmer, with 1:55 remaining in the game, threw a fourth-and-one pass to Houshmandzedah. The pass was stopped by Ravens defensive back Ronnie Prude. The play was questionable because the possibility of pass interference. The referees did not call the penalty. Houshmandzedah threw his helmet on the ground and was penalized with unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Ravens has been outstanding in the last few weeks, and the move by Head Coach Brian Billick has certainly paid off. Billick removed the offensive coordinator during its bye week, and in return the Ravens has posted up more points on the board. Most of it has been on the defense, but Billick has put new faith into the offense.
Billick has the Ravens watch videos of each player and show them the capabilities they have on the field. He has shown quarterback Steve McNair video of his MVP year (2003 with the Tennessee Titans) to remind him of the level he is capable of producing.
Baltimore is looking a whole lot like the 2000 Ravens that went on to win the Super Bowl (defeating the Giants 35-7).
Cincinnati’s record falls to 4-4 in the first half of the season, two games behind the Ravens (6-2), who control the American Football Conference North Division.
The Bengals come home to play the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium Nov. 12 at 1 p.m.