Here’s what the Baltimore Sun sports staff had to say immediately after the Ravens’ 41-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium:
Jonas Shaffer, reporter: The Bengals are the team to beat in the AFC North. At least it looks that way after Sunday’s shellacking. On paper, the Ravens had the best offensive and defensive player on the field. But Joe Burrow outdueled Lamar Jackson, and Ja’Marr Chase posterized Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens have the week off to rest up and regroup. They’ll need to be a lot better during a daunting second half. The team’s inability to run inside the tackles or tackle in the open field are big problems with no quick fixes.
Mike Preston, columnist: The NFL is a week-to-week league, and the Ravens are the classic symbol, especially on defense. One week the group plays its best game of the season in routing the Los Angeles Chargers, 34-6, and a week later they get pummeled by the Cincinnati Bengals. Like the Chargers a week ago, the Ravens are headed into the bye week. Unfortunately, they said bye-bye too early. This loss was ugly and downright embarrassing. Pitiful might be the most appropriate word.
Childs Walker, reporter: All the flaws that inspired misgivings about the Ravens before their blowout of the Los Angeles Chargers resurfaced in their worst performance of the season.
Sloppy tackling and a toothless pass rush left Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow all the room he needed to hit on big play after big play. The Ravens could not cover rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase once he got going in the second quarter.
On offense, the Ravens established no running game beyond Lamar Jackson’s scrambles. Jackson frequently held the ball too long and paid for it by taking five sacks. He looked like he might be on his way to another magical performance when he found Marquise Brown for a touchdown pass on the first drive of the second half, but that turned out to be the Ravens’ last gasp.
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Give credit to the Bengals, who announced themselves as a legitimate threat to seize the AFC North. They took full advantage of the Ravens’ defensive mistakes and knocked Jackson out of his comfort zone.
The Ravens have two weeks to digest this humbling beatdown. They have no claim to be the AFC’s best team after laying such a fat egg at home, but we also can’t forget how complete a game they played seven days earlier. We’re back to the drawing board in trying to figure this team out.
Ryan McFadden, reporter: It’s hard to believe, but the Bengals are a legitimate threat in the AFC North. Cincinnati’s defensive front constantly pressured Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, recording five sacks and seven quarterback hits. A good amount of those sacks happened because Jackson had a hard time figuring out whether to keep the ball and run or simply throw it away.
Bengals rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase won the first round of his matchup with Ravens All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Chase recorded 201 receiving yards and a touchdown as he continues to make a case for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
C.J. Doon, editor: Is there a changing of the guard happening in the AFC North? That might be premature, but these aren’t the Bengals of old. Quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase are legitimate stars, and the Cincinnati defense continues to impress. The Ravens should be feeling good about their 5-2 record entering the bye week, but this ugly performance muddies their standing at the top of the AFC — especially if this Jekyll and Hyde defense can’t be more consistent.
Tim Schwartz, editor: Yikes. The Ravens got smashed in the mouth in this one as second-year quarterback Joe Burrow lit up the Baltimore defense for 416 passing yards. In what should be an exciting matchup for years to come, rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase punished cornerback Marlon Humphrey for 201 yards, including a back-breaking 82-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the third quarter before Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine added to the day’s big-play theme with scoring runs of 21 and 46 yards, respectively.
Simply put, this was one of the Ravens’ worst losses in recent memory. If it weren’t for Lamar Jackson making plays out of nothing — he also did too much at times — the Bengals’ much-improved defense could’ve had a shutout. Baltimore’s running backs aren’t playing the Chargers’ worst-ranked run defense each week and must figure something out — and soon. Cincinnati is no joke. The battle for the AFC North will be fun to watch down the stretch.