Another game, another lackadaisical start from the Ravens’ offense.
The unit failed to score in the first quarter of Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, and that effort contributed to the team’s 31-27 loss at M&T Bank Stadium.
That marked the sixth time this season that the offense had failed to muster a point in the opening quarter. And the unit closed out the year without scoring a touchdown in the first quarter in eight straight game.
“Early on, we made a couple hiccups that maybe would have got us some first downs and wasn’t good on our part, and then so the combination of letting them [get off] the field and get their juices flowing early on just kind of compounded throughout the first half,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “When you let a good defense off the hook a couple times early, it’s not going to be good for you.”
The offense managed only one first down and 37 yards while failing to convert 1-of-3 third-down chances in the first quarter. The second quarter was not much better as the Ravens added another first down, 24 yards, and 0-of-5 on third-down opportunities.
But the offense found its rhythm in the second half, amassing 17 first downs, 251 yards, and converting 5-of-9 third-down chances. Most importantly, it scored 17 points and briefly took a 27-24 lead before Cincinnati scored the game-winning touchdown.
The effort in the second half is what wide receiver Mike Wallace will remember most.
“Obviously, you want to get a faster start because you want to put up points faster, but I think we did a great job of just fighting and putting ourselves in a position to win a football game,” he said. “Like I said, there’s going to be ups and there’s going to be downs in a football game. So you’ve just got to keep fighting. We put ourselves in a position to win a football game, but they just made one more play than we did.”
Lewis coy about future: If Sunday’s game was his last as the Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis did not confirm it.
The former Ravens defensive coordinator is reportedly planning to step away from the coaching responsibilities that he has assumed for the past 15 years, which is the second-longest tenure in the NFL only to the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick. But Lewis declined to say whether he was finished coaching the Bengals.
“I don’t know that,” he said. “We’ll see. Yes, there are decisions to be made. First, it would be [up to] the ownership.”
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard said he hopes that Lewis returns next season.
“Coach Lewis believed in me when no one else did, and I think a lot of guys feel the same way,” he said. “It’s definitely the right way to send him out. It just shows you what kind of guy he is and how he motivates us and challenges us to come out and play. We’ll see what happens in the future.”
Asked if he wants to return for another season, Lewis replied, “Yes, I would coach this team.”
But asked if he would come back if owner Mike Brown welcomed him back, Lewis replied, “It’s more complicated than that.”
Perriman, West scratched: A pair of former starters in wide receiver Breshad Perriman and running back Terrance West were deactivated prior to Sunday’s game.
Perriman had been a healthy scratch three times in a five-game span before making his third start of the season in last Saturday’s 23-16 win against the Indianapolis Colts. The organization’s first-round pick in the 2015 draft caught two passes for 14 yards in that game, but has just 10 catches and 77 yards receiving. He also dropped behind Chris Moore on the team’s unofficial depth chart.
West was active against Indianapolis, snapping a five-game run of being a healthy scratch. But the Northwestern High and Towson University product did not play in that game. After starting four of the first five games, West had been deactivated for four straight weeks because of a left calf injury suffered in a 30-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 8.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin missed his second consecutive game since injuring his left knee in the first quarter of the team’s 27-10 win over the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 17. Maclin had been listed as doubtful on Friday in the team’s final injury report of the week.
In addition to Maclin, Perriman, and West, the Ravens deactivated rookie guard Jermaine Eluemunor (shoulder), defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, rookie guard Maurquice Shakir, and rookie outside linebacker Tim Williams. That meant that rookie wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, who was promoted from the practice squad on Tuesday; cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who has not played in a contest since he was a rookie for the New Orleans Saints in 2014; and rookie nose tackle Chris Wormley, who has been a healthy scratch nine times were active.