Joe Flacco isn’t known as a scrambler. You’re not going to see him take off from the pocket at the first sign of trouble.
That’s not to say the Ravens quarterback can’t shuffle around when he has to. In fact, it’s his legs that are largely the reason why the Ravens hold an early 7-0 lead.
Flacco completed a three-play, 53-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark. The third-and-goal attempt looked to be headed for disaster as Flacco scrambled to the right sideline with no purple jerseys in sight. At the last second, however, Flacco found Clark - who dropped a third-down pass on the previous series - open in the back of the end zone. It was an easy pitch and catch - just as soon as Flacco saw his open receiver.
Though the drive went 53 yards, 48 of them were awarded when the Bengals were called for pass interference. Flacco and Ray Rice beautifully set up a flea flicker attempt, and Jacoby Jones was wide open in the middle of the field. It was an interference penalty that likely kept six points off the scoreboard, at least at the time. But the Ravens punched it in three plays later with the pass to Clark.
On defense, the Ravens have been successful against Andy Dalton, who has really opened things up in the passing game over the past month. A small sample size today, sure, but the Ravens look sharp early on.
Update: The Ravens look ready to play today. Back-to-back scoring drives have the home team boasting a 10-0 edge over the visiting Bengals. Following the touchdown pass to Clark, Justin Tucker drilled a 36-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the first quarter to give Baltimore a two-score lead.
The drive was again aided by the help of a costly Bengals penalty, but Flacco and company are mixing things up on offense, while the defense is taming a dangerous Cincinnati offense through the opening 15 minutes. The Ravens have only 54 yards of offense and have held the ball for only 4:38, but they’ve taken advantage of favorable field position and quick drives to get out in front.
If there’s been any bad news for the Ravens, it’s been the departure of star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Ngata was injured on a play in the final minute of the first quarter and walked off under his own power. No word yet on his injury status, though. Also, Cincinnati is marching down the field and is close to the redzone as the quarter comes to a close.
Update II: It’s been all Ravens in this one. Baltimore has taken advantage of a slew of Cincinnati miscues, penalties and turnovers to hold a 17-0 lead at halftime.
When we last left off, the Bengals were driving down the field to start the second quarter, but kicker Mike Nugent pulled a field goal left to erase an otherwise productive drive.
Both Flacco and Andy Dalton have thrown interceptions, but the Ravens took advantage of Dalton’s pick - right in the hands of safety James Ihedigbo - and turned it into a two-play, 11-yard drive, capped off with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with 6:30 left in the second quarter.
After missing what seemed like only a few series, Ngata returned to the field and appears to be fine. He and the Ravens’ front seven don’t have a sack today, but have otherwise been dominant against the Bengals offense.
You wouldn’t know the Bengals sit atop the division with the Ravens looking up. It’s been all Baltimore through two quarters.
Some halftime stats:
First Downs: Ravens 10, Bengals 7
Total yards: Bengals 102, Ravens 94
Rushing yards: Bengals 55, Ravens 46
Passing yards: Ravens 48, Bengals 47
Penalties-yards: Bengals 7-114, Ravens 2-25
Time of Possession: Bengals 16:47, Ravens 13:13
Update: It’s been a fairly quiet second half, as the Bengals offense has started to find some rhythm, but has just three points to show for it. Nugent connected on a 32-yard field goal with 10:37 in the third quarter to cut the Ravens’ lead to 17-3.
Dalton continues to struggle against a swirling wind and swirling Ravens front four. Dalton has thrown a pair of interceptions and star receiver A.J. Green has been limited to just 53 yards on four catches. The lone bright spot for the Bengals has been the play of Vincent Ray. The third-year middle linebacker earned the start and has three sacks and an interception to show for it.
The Ravens offense has hit a snag, too, however. Flacco is just 15 of 27, but has only turned the ball over once and has the Ravens in position to snap their three-game losing streak.
Update: The Bengals have closed the gap with their second score of the half, an 18-yard touchdown pass by Dalton to Giovanni Bernard with 8:22 in the fourth. The play came after a key fourth-down conversion deep inside Ravens territory to keep Cincinnati’s offense on the field.
Bernard reached the end zone, but it was Dalton’s favorite target, Green, who came alive and moved this game to a one-score contest. Green has six catches for 91 yards and the Ravens have a chance to answer.
Update: Unbelievable. The Bengals needed a 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to tie the game with no time on the clock. They got it. Dalton’s last-ditch pass was tipped around in the end zone, eventually landing in the hands of a wide-open Green, who scored the easy touchdown. Green now has his fifth straight 100-yard receiving game, a team record. You can’t script this stuff.
We are headed to overtime, where the Bengals have won the toss.