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The Ravens' matchup Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals was billed as a showdown between Heisman Trophy winners Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow.
It became a showcase for the Ravens defense.
In a 27-3 win at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens (4-1) sacked Burrow seven times — a season high for the defense — held the Bengals (1-3-1) to 205 yards and just 3.2 yards per play and scored their second defensive touchdown of the season.
It was the stingiest game this season for the Ravens, who have allowed more than 343 yards in just one game this year. With an interception by Marcus Peters and fumble recovery for a touchdown, they have now forced a turnover in 18 straight games, the NFL’s longest active streak.
If Burrow, Cincinnati’s No. 1 overall pick, looked like a rookie getting his first taste of Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s exotic schemes, Jackson looked like a quarterback who hadn’t had a full practice all week.
After missing Wednesday’s practice with a sore knee and Thursday’s with an illness, Jackson participated in only Friday’s walk-through session. Coach John Harbaugh said he was “good to go,” but the Ravens looked anything but for much of Sunday’s game.
He finished 19-for-37 for 180 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, though he was lucky not to have a few more picked off. He also had just two carries for 3 yards, both season lows. The Ravens scored touchdowns on two of their first three drives, the second needing just 16 yards to find the end zone, then struggled to get within striking range after the first quarter.
Wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown had six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, while tight end Mark Andrews had six receptions for 56 yards and a score. Running back Mark Ingram II had 11 carries for 57 yards.
Burrow, who finished 19-for-30 for 183 yards and an interception, struggled just to stay upright. The Ravens had 15 quarterback hits, and five defensive backs — Peters and fellow corneback Marlon Humphrey, safeties DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark and defensive back Jimmy Smith — finished with a sack.
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Sometimes even completions ended poorly. Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Ravens already up 20-0, Humphrey stripped the ball from Cincinnati wide receiver Mike Thomas. Inside linebacker Patrick Queen recovered the fumble, his second pickup of the day, and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown.
A late Bengals field goal denied the Ravens their first shutout since 2018, but their defense still finished with a touchdown. Cincinnati ended the game with none.
Daniel Oyefusi, reporter: The Ravens, on offense at least, sleepwalked through Sunday’s win. The performance was good enough to beat a bad team like the Bengals, but for much of the afternoon, the offense was out of sync. The high number of pass attempts, despite facing a bad run defense and holding a sizable lead for much of the day, was very confusing. The pass rush finally had a breakout performance, but it came against a porous offensive line, so you can only take so much from that. The Ravens are 4-1, but they’re far from the best version of themselves at this point in the season.
Jonas Shaffer, reporter: The Ravens probably could’ve started Trace McSorley at quarterback today and done all right. Lamar Jackson was not himself, athletically or strategically. He misplaced passes, couldn’t outrun defenders and struggled with his decision-making. But the Ravens defense couldn’t have played a more complete game. The group’s pass rush was awesome. The Ravens' tackling was sound. Their playmakers made plays. Joe Burrow will want to forget this game.
Childs Walker, reporter: This was a victory reminiscent of the pre-Lamar Jackson era, when the Ravens defense often carried them through aesthetically miserable games. The Bengals simply could not protect quarterback Joe Burrow, who will be picking M&T Bank Stadium turf from his aching body all the way back to Cincinnati. In one indication of how well Don “Wink” Martindale’s blitzes worked, five different Ravens defensive backs sacked Burrow. This defensive mauling obscured a desultory offensive outing from the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson. After a week in which he missed two practices, Jackson ran reluctantly and threw sloppily. With many chances to put the game away early, the Ravens could not sustain drives. Jackson completed just 19 of 37 passes and threw several passes that could have been intercepted. Despite his quarterback’s inefficiency, offensive coordinator Greg Roman seemed reluctant to go all-in on his run game. Big picture, we didn’t learn much about the Ravens, beyond their ability to punish a bad offensive line and an overwhelmed young quarterback.