The Cincinnati Bengals beat division rivals the Baltimore Ravens 24-17 in the wildcard round thanks to their defense and now face the Buffalo Bills. The visitors fought to the end despite losing quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Bengals vs. Ravens: At a Glance
A defensive touchdown settled the game between two AFC North rivals who were even without one of each team’s star quarterbacks.
The Ravens’ defense made life difficult for the Bengals and Joe Burrow, preventing the big plays that are usually a major factor for Cincy. Ja’Marr Chase was checked on the bottom line.
Despite the loss, the Ravens put in their best offensive performance since Lamar Jackson’s absence six weeks earlier.
Bengals vs. Ravens: The Analysis
The Bengals got off to a better start, leading 9-0 after two practices – Evan McPherson had a 39-yard field goal and missed an extra point after a touchdown from Ja’Marr Chase, which dominated the second practice. Earlier, Akeem Davis caught an interception on Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley.
But as seen in other games over the weekend, that early lead did not lead to a one-sided game. Instead, the Ravens then caught up and put on a ten-minute, 17-play drive and cut it short with a 2-yard touchdown from JK Dobbins.
Rookie safety Tyler Hamilton then searched Hayden Hurst with a tackle and took the ball himself. The visitors even turned it around before the break with a 22-yard field goal from Justin Tucker. Score at halftime: 10-9 Baltimore.
After the break, Joe Burrow also showed his extra class and orchestrated a seven-minute twelve-move workout. Burrow himself finished with a stealth jab and eventually found Tee Higgins for the two-point conversion in the end zone. 5:10 p.m. Cincy midway through the third quarter.
The Ravens responded less than three minutes later: Huntley threw his deepest pass of the night to Demarcus Robinson, who left cornerback Eli Apple in the dust on a sluggo route for a 41-yard touchdown to equalize .
Bengals vs. Ravens: Memorable streak leads to preliminary decision
A momentous streak followed which turned the game around. The Ravens marched almost unchecked into the end zone and were on 1 after an impressive 35-yard run from Huntley. A short time later Huntley attempted a stealth at 3rd&Goal like Trevor Lawrence has done recently, which is to say holding the ball above everyone in the end stretched arm zone sought. But linebacker Logan Wilson, who had previously stopped a potentially long Huntley run with a tackle, knocked the ball out of the hands of the QB in front of the line, rusher Sam Hubbard caught the fumble and carried it 98 yards for a touchdown. .
Apparently the ball was 0.6 yards from the end zone in Huntley’s hands before he lost it. He was particularly bitter that Huntley had previously overlooked an open receiver in the flat. It would have been a simple touchdown even before the stealth attempt.
This game was important for the hosts as their own attack saw almost no ground in this phase of the game. In the end, the Bengals defense held firm as a desperate last pass in time was deflected and narrowly missed by James Proche in the end zone. The fact that Baltimore still rallied for huddle with less than a minute on the clock caused quite a surprise, as did the run attempts in the situation. In general, the management of the time of the Ravens was questionable in the final phase.
The success means the Bengals and Bills will square off in the Divisional Round next week. It also means the Chiefs will host the Jaguars.
NFL Wildcard Playoffs: Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) – Baltimore Ravens (10-7)
Result: 24:17 (3:0, 6:10, 8:7, 7:0) BOXSCORE
Bengals vs. Ravens – the most important stats
Chase had 5 receptions on the first touchdown. It was the most receptions he had ever had in a drive. He’s the first player since James White in 2018 to record five playoff receptions — and the first wide receiver since Demaryius Thomas in Super Bowl XLVIII after the 2013 season.
Burrow is the third Bengals quarterback with a touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown in a playoff game. His predecessors were Boomer Esiason in the 1990 wild card game against the Oilers and Ken Anderson in Super Bowl XVI against the 49ers.
- For the first time since Lamar Jackson was injured in Week 13, the Ravens scored more than one touchdown in a game.
- Hubbard’s 98-yard fumble return touchdown was the longest defensive touchdown in the playoffs since Taron Johnson’s 101-yard six-pick pick over Lamar Jackson in the 2020 Divisional Round.
The star of the game: Logan Wilson (linebacker, Bengals)
The match was close, so in the end an error must have led to the decision. Wilson caused this with his forced fumble in front of the goal line. Plus, he led his team in tackles, stopped a potentially long run from Huntley and had one more thing. A great performance from the linebacker.
The flop of the game: Tyler Huntley (quarterback, Ravens)
Every game needs a flop and in this case it was Huntley who brought the decision with two turnovers and especially the fumble in front of the goal line. Overall, though, it was a solid showing from Jackson’s rep and the Ravens overall as an underdog in the game.
Analysis: Bengals vs. Ravens – the tactics chart
The Ravens offense was clearly focused on ball control and sure passing as well as running play. The plan seemed to be to keep the ball away from Joe Burrow for as long as possible. As a result, Huntley didn’t attempt a pass that exceeded 10 air yards until the break.
On the other hand, the Ravens have always played with 2-height looks and otherwise mostly media coverage, even against Chase, who didn’t have a special player. It also led to mostly short, risk-free passes for the Bengals, but they also didn’t lead to big plays.
The Bengals used the game sparingly before the break – to put it mildly: almost not at all. After the break it improved a bit, which immediately led to success.
What was remarkable was how ineffective the Bengals’ pass rush was for much of the game, despite their aggressive blitz (just under 40% of Huntley’s backs).
Burrow, on the other hand, was under constant fire behind a battered line. After left tackle Jonah Williams suffered a knee injury before the break and failed to return, guard Jackson Carman had to take over, making him his first tackle in the NFL. He had played that position in college in the past, however.
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