Ravens defensive players safety Earl Thomas and newly signed defensive tackle Jihad Ward talk about beating the Bengals Sunday.
The videoboard at M&T Bank Stadium had just finished showing highlights of former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who announced Sunday that he will be retiring with the team after winning a Super Bowl with Baltimore. But the nostalgia couldn’t settle in.
Bengals kick returner Brandon Wilson took the opening kickoff and sprinted along the Ravens sideline, en route to a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown.
The return gave the Bengals an early 7-0 lead, their first and only of the game, and was the first kickoff return touchdown allowed by the Ravens since Joe McKnight ran one back on Oct. 2, 2011.
“The kickoff return set us up in a hole,” coach John Harbaugh said. “[I was] very disappointed with that. We’re much better than that. That will be a little bit of a wake-up call for us in that area. Our guys are not happy about it, but it’s our own fault. We didn’t cover the kick well.”
The Ravens tied the game on the following possession, a 21-yard touchdown run by quarterback Lamar Jackson, and never faced a deficit again in Sunday’s 23-17 win.
The return touchdown was a sore spot for a team that prides itself on having strong special teams, but the unit regrouped in what was an otherwise clean performance.
“The offense said, you know, ‘We’re really looking forward to getting the ball at the start of the game, so we might as well just consider that,’ " guard Marshal Yanda said.
“We got the ball to start the game. So you don’t blink. That’s life in the NFL. There’s good players over there, world-class players, and they take it to the house, that’s just something you clean-slate. Get after it every single play, and we understand they’re good. They can make plays. This is the NFL.”
Tucker reaches 1,000 points
In the second quarter of Sunday’s win, kicker Justin Tucker made a 40-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 17-7 lead.
The kick also placed Tucker in the record books, as he became the fastest kicker in NFL history to reach 1,000 points, accomplishing the feat in 118 games.
The accomplishment comes days after Tucker was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, his 10th time receiving the honor.
“I find the coolest thing about reaching this milestone,” Tucker said, “is that that I get to share it with [punter] Sam [Koch], who has held for every single one of those points, and [long snapper] Morgan [Cox], who has snapped for almost all of them. They are not just great teammates, but they are great friends. I should also throw in [assistant special teams coach] Randy Brown.
“Getting 1,000 points is no small task, although every single one of us will tell you the same thing. It is not about looking back at the last 1,000 or thinking about the next 1,000. It is about thinking the next one, or three. Or more importantly, the next kick on a Wednesday at practice. Keeping it as simple as that.”
Boldin to retire a Raven
Boldin, who spent three of his 14 NFL seasons with the Ravens, announced Sunday that he will retire as a member of the team.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection and 2003 Offensive Rookie of the Year played with the Ravens from 2010 to 2012, winning Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3, 2013. Boldin signed with San Francisco that offseason and spent three years there before playing his final season with the Detroit Lions in 2016 at 36 years old. He spent the first seven years of his career with the Arizona Cardinals and played in Super Bowl XLIII, a 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Despite making his first start of the season, and fourth of his career, safety Chuck Clark wore the helmet with communication abilities and relayed calls to the defense.
With safety Tony Jefferson out for the season because of a torn ACL, Clark, along with second-year safety DeShon Elliott, played significant snaps on defense.
Inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor started the season with the helmet before Jefferson took over the responsibility.
“[Communication] went well," coach John Harbaugh said. “The decision basically was, we’ve done it with a safety anyway. We’ve done it both ways. But Chuck was going to be on the field, probably more than [inside linebacler] Josh [Bynes], necessarily. Josh was coming out in some personnel groups. It could have been either guy. Chuck has always done a good job at communication. That went really well, especially for his first time doing it. He’s done it in practice a lot, but that was one of the best things we did.”
“It is what it is,” Andrews said. “I’m not going to stop being me and being an aggressive player. [It] wasn’t anything they did. I hit the ball out with my own knee. I’ve got to be better than that. I can’t do that to my team. It’s not acceptable.
“You know, it’s one of those things where it just sucks. It sucks to do that to your team, and [I] just wanted to let the guys know that I was going to try to make it up to them, and it wasn’t going to happen again. I told them I’m sorry. So all the guys were understanding, and I’m just thankful we got this win.”
Canady, Elliott dealing with lower-body injuries
Harbaugh said Elliott and cornerback Maurice Canady, who both exited Sunday’s game late with injuries, are dealing with “lower-body things.”
Canady led the team with nine tackles but was on the sideline for the Bengals’ final offensive possession. Cornerback Justin Bethel, who had only played three defensive snaps entering Sunday, entered for Canady.
Elliott was injured on the Bengals’ final drive. He rolled over to Bethel’s side in coverage and crashed into Bethel along the Ravens sideline while attempting to break up a pass.
Elliott came up hobbled and was assisted to the sideline by teammates.
M. Brown, Onwuasor out
Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor were inactive for Sunday’s AFC North game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Neither player practiced during the week. Harbaugh said Friday that the two were “game-time” decisions.
Sunday marked the first missed game in Brown’s short NFL career. He spent the offseason rehabilitating from Lisfranc (foot) surgery but had yet to miss a regular-season game.
Onwuasor missed his first game since Week 5 of the 2016 season.