Bengals trail 14-7 through first half

We’ve reached halftime in Baltimore with the Bengals trailing the Ravens 14-7. After a promising opening quarter, the Bengals have struggled to hold onto the early momentum.

Running back Cedric Benson capped off a seven-play, 82-yard drive in the first quarter to put the visiting team ahead on the scoreboard, but back-to-back touchdowns from the Ravens have dug Cincinnati a small hole as they look to gain control of the AFC North.

For rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, his play has fluxuated throughout the first half. He’s completed 10 of 22 passes for 111 yards, including a pretty toss to Jerome Simpson which went for 47 yards on the team’s only scoring drive, but at times has shown his vulnerability against the aggressive Ravens defense. He isn’t shying away from the long ball, however as half of his completions have come on attempts of more than 10 yards. Dalton took one sack and has thrown one interception, which came in the waning seconds of the first half.

Speaking of secondary, the Bengals defense knew it was going to be tested, particularly in that area. After losing top corner Leon Hall for the season with a torn ACL, it was expected cornerbacks Adam Jones and Nate Clements were going to see plenty of action. They certainly have, as Ravens speedster Torrey Smith has slipped past the secondary more than once, tallying 90 yards on just three catches, while receiver Anquan Boldin scored the Ravens first touchdown on a 35-yard reception. Clements did get the better of quarterback Joe Flacco on Baltimore’s final drive, however, capitalizing on an ill-advised throw from the right side and giving the Bengals a final shot at the end zone.

Special teams have been an issue, as punter Kevin Huber has struggled to be consistent. He has six punts on the day, but only for an average of 39 yards, including a 15-yard shank that led to the Ravens’ first touchdown. If the Bengals can’t move the ball better, they sure had better improve their punting.

Notes through the first half:

* The Bengals have 143 total yards on 38 plays
* Cincinnati has just 36 yards on the ground, but has held Baltimore to only 16
* Time of possession favors the Bengals slightly, 16:10 to 13:50
* The Bengals are 30 percent on third-down completion (3-10), while the Ravens are 50 percent (4-8)