Each week, Baltimore Sun reporters Aaron Wilson and Matt Vensel will look back at the previous game of the Ravens and their next opponent. The Ravens will play the Eagles at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Ravens 44, Bengals 13
Strategy: Joe Flacco orchestrated the offense out of no-huddle mode and the shotgun formation, frequently audibling at the line. Halfback draws to Ray Rice out of the shotgun kept the Bengals honest along with waggles, play-action and reverses. It was primarily fast-break football, but the Ravens didn't completely abandon their smash-mouth roots with Vonta Leach bulldozing pathways for Rice with isolation plays out of the I-formation. Remaining true to their 3-4 base defense, they were hardly vanilla as Dean Pees dialed up blitzes and stunts to create a pass rush for a defense bereft of Terrell Suggs.
Personnel: The Ravens went no-huddle on 21 of 58 snaps, an indicator it's no passing fancy. They were in the shotgun 15 times. Tight end Dennis Pitta, who had a career-high 73 receiving yards, was on the field for 44 plays while Ed Dickson played 39 snaps. Often in double-tight-end formations and three-wide-receiver looks. Left guard Ramon Harewood and rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele never left the field and held up solidly in starting debuts.
What went right: Flacco collaborated with Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for a crisp tempo, keeping the defense off guard with unpredictable playcalling. Respect was paid to Rice on a play-action fake sold adeptly by Flacco, who connected with Torrey Smith in stride for a 52-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. Rice generated 93 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, but could handle a bigger workload. Lardarius Webb was an ironman on defense, playing 62 snaps and recording seven tackles and a fumble recovery . Haloti Ngata exploited a mismatch over center Jeff Faine for two sacks. Bernard Pollard delivered some punishing hits, and a lighter Ray Lewis was extremely active.
What went wrong: Interior defensive linemen Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Terrence Cody didn't build an adequate wall inside as BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 91 yards and a touchdown. Paul Kruger surrendered ground far too easily, getting manhandled by Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth. Although Kruger played 61 plays, he had just one tackle and fellow linebacker Albert McClellan only had two tackles in 48 plays. The Bengals racked up 4.6 yards per carry.
Turning point: After Webb's touchdown-saving tackle on a scrambling Andy Dalton held Cincinnati to a field goal in the third quarter when Marvin Lewis declined to go for it on 4th-and-1 at the Ravens' 1-yard line, Flacco marched the offense 89 yards on nine plays capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass to Pitta for a 24-13 lead. The game was never close again.
X-factor: The Ravens look vulnerable on the perimeter defensively because the outside linebackers aren't setting the edge physically enough. That could be a major problem against the Eagles because of the multi-dimensional athleticism of quarterback Michael Vick and the elusiveness of speedy running back LeSean McCoy.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun