After a slow start, the Ravens responded with 14 unanswered second-quarter points, and they take a 14-7 lead over the Bengals into halftime.
Here are a few quick-hit notes on the first 30 minutes of play:
- The Ravens came out looking to establish the run, and while it didn't produce big numbers - they averaged just 1.3 yards per carry in the first half - it did pay dividends. Cincinnati had to respect the possibility of the run, and when offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called a play-action bootleg for Joe Flacco, the Bengals defense got sucked in by the play fake, leaving Anquan Boldin wide open over the middle of the field. The play resulted in a 35-yard touchdown.
- Flacco struggled out of the gate, but he finished the first half 11-of-19 for 173 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He's hit on three big plays - 49, 35 and 28 yards.
- Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said this week he wanted to get rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith some more playing time. Mission accomplished. Smith started the game as the dime back with Chris Carr still above him as the nickel, but as the half went on, Smith earned most of the reps when the Ravens needed a fifth defensive back. The rookie plays a really physical brand of football on the outside, which is fun to watch.
- It's great seeing Lee Evans back on the field after a seven-week absence. It's also great seeing a two-wide receiver set with Evans and Torrey Smith, which can really present matchup problems for opposing defenses because of the speed those two offer. Smith's 49-yard grab came out of that speed-package.
- Cedric Benson has eight carries for 16 yards. The Ravens made it their goal to stop Benson and put the pressure on rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. They've done just that.
- Torrey Smith had a really nice first half, recording three catches for 90 yards. But he's got to be smartin' right now after getting dragged down by his dreadlocks late in the second quarter. It was a completely legal tackle, but one which was a little dirty coming from Adam "Pacman" Jones, a guy who sports dreadlocks himself.