Cincinnati Bengals Observations From a Devastating 34-20 Loss to the Baltimore Ravens

Joe Burrow's injury cast a pall on the entire evening, as the Cincinnati Bengals fell to the Baltimore Ravens, and the playoff hopes now look bleak.

The 34-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens was bad enough for the Cincinnati Bengals, as it all but ends their chances of winning a third consecutive AFC North title. But the loss of quarterback Joe Burrow could be the more devastating development from a disappointing night at M&T Bank Stadium.

Burrow showed obvious pain and immediately grabbed his right wrist after throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to Joe Mixon to give the Bengals a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. He was ruled out shortly after the second half began, replaced by Jake Browning.

Cincinnati Bengals Observations

We should get more news on the severity of Burrow’s injury in the postgame press conferences or possibly later this weekend following more tests.

For now, here are some other quick observations from the team’s 15th consecutive road loss in prime time, one which dropped the Bengals to 5-5 — 2.5 games behind Baltimore.

Jake Browning’s Big Moment

With Burrow exiting late in the second quarter after throwing a go-ahead touchdown pass to Mixon, Browning came in for the first meaningful snaps of his career. They came in a two-minute drill at the end of the half, down by four in a hostile environment on a national stage.

Browning’s first play was a 12-yard pass to Trenton Irwin as he drove the Bengals into Baltimore territory before ultimately having to punt it back to the Ravens with 1:30 left. And Baltimore cashed in the opportunity for an 80-yard touchdown drive and a 21-10 lead.

On the opening drive of the second half, Browning moved the Bengals into the red zone but couldn’t finish it. The team had to settle for an Evan McPherson 23-yard field goal to cut the Baltimore lead to 21-13.

But that was the highlight until a late fourth-quarter drive that ended with Browning’s first career touchdown pass, a two-yarder to Ja’Marr Chase, who finished with just two catches for 12 yards.

Browning finished 8 of 14 for 68 yards and the touchdown.

Prior to Thursday, the only significant snaps of Browning’s career were three garbage-time ones at the end of the season-opening 24-3 loss at Cleveland.

Trench Game

Even before Browning replaced Burrow, and even before anything happened at all, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor gave a sign of what kind of game he expected it to be by the game-day captains he chose — center Ted Karras and left tackle Orlando Brown.

And the offensive line was up to the task, not just securing the Bengals’ eighth win in 10 coin tosses but by creating space for Mixon to run. Mixon looked as good as he has all season, with three runs of at least 10 yards in the first half.

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The Bengals slammed Mixon into the teeth of Baltimore’s run defense on most first downs in the first half, whether it was the first play of the drive or after moving the chains in the middle of it.

They stuck with it in the second half, but as the deficit grew, it was less and less effective and looked like the rushing attack we’ve seen more recently.

Mixon finished with 69 yards on 16 carries (4.3 average). He also was the team’s leading receiver with five catches, although tight end Tanner Hudson had a team-high 49 yards.

Deflated Defense

The defense already was having more trouble with giving up explosive plays four days after allowing 17 of them against the Houston Texans. But the loss of Burrow seemed to cast a pall not just on the offense but the entire team as Baltimore continued to gash Cincinnati with huge chunks.

The 34 points allowed were a season high and the most the Bengals have surrendered since Week 13 in 2021 vs. the Chargers.

Scott’s Spot

Earlier this week, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo was asked about the platoons between Chidobe Awuzie and DJ Turner at cornerback and Nick Scott and rookie Jordan Battle at safety.

“Would you like to settle on one guy?”

“I would love to settle on one guy,” Anarumo said.

After Sunday night, it looked like Battle is that guy. Anarumo was visibly livid with Scott after he remained on the field for a third-down play, and the Bengals got flagged for 12 men on the field.

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Scott also had a bad missed tackle in the red zone against Mark Andrews. Logan Wilson rallied to bring Andrews down, and the Baltimore tight end suffered an ankle injury on the play and would not return.

Battle came in after the 12-man penalty, and the platoon was no more. He finished with a career-high 10 tackles.

Charlie Jones Returns

Charlie Jones missed six games after having thumb surgery following the Week 3 Monday night win against the Los Angeles Rams.

Jones entered Thursday averaging 18.8 yards per return. That average is second best in the league, but his eight returns were not enough to count him among the leaders.

Jones’ average took a hit Thursday night with three returns for 24 yards, but he did have a 20-yarder as part of that. To get to the minimum of 1.25 returns per team game played, Jones should need to average just two more per game to count among the leaders.

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