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Ravens at Bengals: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

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Obviously the Baltimore Ravens suffered a frustrating loss to the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday, but this isn’t the end. Here are 2 good things we can take out of the game, 2 bad things we hate to realize, and 2 ugly things we should be angry about.

The Good
I like to consider myself a positive guy, so despite a tough loss, here are two things that I liked about the game:

1.) Ray Rice.
He had a decent game with an average of 5.4 yards per carry. His longest run was a 30-yard breakout that almost ended in a touchdown, had it not been for a shoelace tackle. And of course Rice wouldn’t be complete without some receptions, so he ended the day catching 4 balls for 30 yards. That’s 117 yards from scrimmage by Rice, which is nearly half the 259 net yards gained by the entire Ravens offense. Not bad.

2.) Ray Lewis and co.
What a statement by Ray Lewis and his defense. As long as Lewis remains the leader of this squad, the true “Organized Chaos” will continue to play fearlessly. The Ravens defense has not allowed a single touchdown this season. And fortunately CB Lardarius Webb was able to return from injury, helping the Ravens secondary hold Carson Palmer to just 167 passing yards on 35 attempts. Oh yeah, and Cedric Benson failed to get his 100 yards this time. But what impressed me the most was the goal line stand by the defense; the Bengals had to kick a field goal each of the four times they reached the red zone.

The Bad
As much as I like to be optimistic, I’m also realistic. Here are some common things we Ravens fans are hating:

1.) Joe Flacco.
Thought Palmer was bad? Try 17 of 39 for 154 yards and 4 interceptions. Those are the stats of a 23.8 QB passer rating. Now I’m not saying we should bench Flacco and start backup Marc Bulger, but something needs to be done.

Quicker release, blitz recognition, more accurate throws, and overall awareness. These are just a few things that Flacco must improve upon in order to be the elite quarterback he wants to be. But most importantly, stop turning the ball over. 5 interceptions and 1 fumble lost in 2 games is unacceptable.

2.) Offensive play-calling.
20 running calls, 39 passing attempts. When you’re gaining more yards per rush than yards per catch, it only makes sense to run the ball more? I may not have the credentials to be an NFL head coach, but come on… run the ball! It will take some pressure off Flacco and give opportunities for Rice to make big plays. Let’s not lose our identity here; Baltimore is a running first team.

And we have a three-headed rushing monster, so why aren’t we using them? Dear Cam Cameron, give Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain some more carries… please.

The Ugly
Before you read this part, I advise taking in a deep breath:

1.) Controversial penalties.
You may take it as complaining, but I have to bring it up— it was ugly.

Ray Lewis was right to be frustrated. 2 separate roughing the passer calls (on Lewis and Terrell Suggs) kept the Bengals rolling on 2 separate drives, which ultimately ended in 2 field goals. I’m not saying we would have won without those calls, but they clearly had an impact on the game. I think it’s safe to say that most Bengals fans would even agree that those penalty calls were bogus.

After the game, here’s what referee Gene Steratore had to say about the call,

“To apply your body weight on the quarterback as you drive him into the ground is a judgment call, and that’s the way that I looked at it.”

The league should definitely review this rule. I would hate to see a Super Bowl end by a “judgment call” made by a ref; that would just be wrong.

2.) Bengals continue to have the Ravens number.
After sweeping the Ravens last year, the Bengals have the opportunity to do that again this year. That’s not a pretty situation to be in.

And in those last 3 games against the Bengals, Flacco has thrown 8 interceptions and only 2 touchdowns! Why he struggles against them I don’t know, but Flacco needs to rally his team and prepare for week 3— which I hope will be an easy win.