Coach John Harbaugh clearly went with the “rest up” side of the balancing act he faced today in Cincinnati.
Quarterback Joe Flacco lasted two series at the Bengals and backup Tyrod Taylor has taken over in the first quarter. Wideout Anquan Boldin, linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Bernard Pollard and guard Marshal Yanda aren’t even in uniform.
Today’s contest is looking like a preseason game for the Ravens, who can do no more than rise to the third seed in the AFC. The Bengals are locked into the sixth seed.
This one is a play-out-the-string kind of game. Sorry, Ravens fans. It can’t be easy to watch. Maybe it’ll be better to treat this one like a bye week and come back next Saturday or Sunday when the game matters more.
Harbaugh and the Ravens might be doing the right thing. Better to have everyone as healthy as possible than to risk the alternative. Momentum could’ve been a positive, and Baltimore still might have it. But the Ravens will be relying on many backups to deliver it.
Update: Taylor and running back Anthony Allen led the Ravens to their first scoring drive, giving the team a 7-0 lead with 17 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Allen scored on a 2-yard run one play after a 20-yard run. It was the first first-quarter touchdown allowed by the Bengals since Week 1 against the Ravens.
Update II: The Bengals drove 43 yards in five plays after forcing Baltimore to punt from its own end zone to tie the game at 7-7 with 39 seconds to go in the second quarter.
Wideout Marvin Jones hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass to knot the score.
The Ravens have controlled the stat sheet, but the score is dead even.
Baltimore has outgained Cincinnati 203-105, has 13 first downs to the Bengals’ five and has held the ball for more than 18 of the first 30 minutes.
More and more backups trickle in for the Ravens as the game goes on. Let’s see if Cicinnati follows suit in the second half.