Instant analysis of the Ravens' 23-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1

September 07, 2014|The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Sun staff members give their thoughts on the Ravens' game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season.

Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: It was 2013 all over again. The Ravens got off to a terrible start, Joe Flacco made a couple of head-scratching mistakes, and the Ravens totally abandoned their running game. Then, after a long touchdown pass to Steve Smith almost made it all not matter, their defense let down in the fourth quarter, another characteristic of last year's team. The Ravens have long tired of hearing about last year, but this wasn't the way to silence the talk. Flacco said it best. The Ravens didn't play well enough to win the game.

Aaron Wilson, reporter: An erratic, sloppy performance by the Ravens’ overhauled offense was simply too much to overcome even though they displayed signs of life in the second half. It was a rough performance overall by Joe Flacco, who didn’t get much help from a drop-prone receiving corps, including four drops by Steve Smith before his late touchdown catch. The Ravens’ injury-riddled secondary finally broke down when the Bengals got the ideal matchup: All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green on cornerback Chykie Brown. The result was predictable as Green beat Brown for the game-winning touchdown to silence the crowd. It’s only the first game, but the Ravens have a lot of work to do to beat good football teams like the Bengals, even one that was hamstrung severely by suspect play-calling on third downs and in the red zone by offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.

Jon Meoli, reporter: The Ravens were lucky to be in this game at all after the first half, but they seemed to find a rhythm in the second half. Still, this is a team that, on offense, doesn't know what it's good at yet. The underneath passing game had some life, and the running game got going, but when they needed that late touchdown, there was no clear go-to play. That should change over time, but as for Sunday, they're lucky to have had a chance to win it at all.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: The Ravens started slow, dropped several key passes during the first three quarters, then showed flashes of the offense everyone has been waiting for during a big late comeback. Ultimately, they picked a bad time for their sketchy cornerback situation to rear its ugly head.

Childs Walker, reporter: The Ravens remain resilient as they proved with their second-half comeback against a very good Bengals team. But this game was full of troubling signs, from the still-unbalanced offense to an undermanned secondary that allowed A.J. Green to go 77 yards with the game on the line. With a defense capable of locking down opponents for long stretches and multiple big-play threats on offense, the Ravens remain an intriguing team. But the flaws are real.

Monique Jones, Ravens editor: The Ravens missed an opportunity to take advantage of a Bengals offense that had to rely on field goals early in the game. The season opener presented more questions than answers for the Ravens as their defense struggled and Joe Flacco and his receivers failed to consistently operate on the same page.

Ron Fritz, sports editor: A well-deserved loss by the Ravens. Everyone contributed to this one. What a disappointing start to the season after everyone talked about putting last year behind them. It's fair to ask if this team is better than last year's. Slow start, dropped passes, bad penalties and dumb mistakes -- it sure looks like last year's team.

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