If you’re not aware what the Baltimore Ravens had done — actually failed to do — before Sunday night’s game against the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals then here’s the reminder:
The Ravens held a 21-point lead against the Miami Dolphins three weeks ago. And lost the game.
They had a 17-point lead against the Buffalo Bills last week. And lost the game.
And Sunday night they built a 10-point lead against the Cincinnati Bengals and somehow managed to trail 17-16 with 1:58 to play after allowing an epic 13-play touchdown drive to the Bengals that took nearly 8 minutes.
The difference this game, however, is the Ravens found a way to answer.
A way to finish.
They got a 43-yard field goal from Justin Tucker as time ran out to squeeze out a 19-17 victory.
“Yeah,” said linebacker Patrick Queen, who had an interception in the game.
Was that a huge exhale coming from the city of Baltimore?
“Absolutely,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “But at the same time I feel like these type of games helps the team build. We hopefully make it to the playoffs, that’s the type of game it’s going to be, you know? Tough teams.”
Ravens In A Good Spot Now
The Ravens have faced tough teams in recent weeks — Baltimore, Miami — and wilted.
But against the division rival Bengals it was a different story and it comes with a higher reward.
“I just think it’s an important win because we had an opportunity to move into position in the division,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s really from a larger perspective. Nobody is going to win a division in October, but these games are going to go a long way at the end of the season.”
The Ravens find themselves in first place in the AFC North. At 3-2 they’re the only team in the division with a winning record.
The Bengals, meanwhile, are under .500 at 2-3 and that means both they and the Los Angeles Rams — last season’s two Super Bowl teams — are both under .500 now.
This is only the third time in the 57-year Super Bowl era that the two Super Bowl teams from the previous season are both under .500 after five games.
Justin Tucker Lights It Up
The Baltimore hero this night was clearly Tucker. He kicked three field goals before connecting on his game winner. So he was basically the most explosive and most consistent player on the field.
No one was arguing that when he kicked a 58-yarder just before halftime and did a little celebration thing as to remind that, yeah, he’s good.
“Just don’t embarrass myself,” Tucker said he was thinking after the 58-yarder. “I’ve celebrated in many humorous ways over the years. Also, you have to save a little bit for the end of the game, too. So I don’t want to peak too early, as we say, put all your cards on the table in the first or second quarter.
“We want to finish.”
Finishing is a theme for the Ravens because they’ve done so little of it this season before this game. But this game was different because while the offense drove for the winning kick and Tucker deliver, the defense also shut down Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and his offense.
Embattled Defense Responds
The Bengals, you may recall, swept the Ravens in two games last season. And Burrow torched Baltimore’s defense for 941 yards (not a misprint) and 7 touchdowns in those two games. In one of the games he threw for 525 yards and 4 TDs.
So the same Baltimore defense that yielded 469 passing yards and 6 TDs and gave up the big lead against the Bills was on notice.
Burrow was limited to 217 yards with 1 TD and 1 interception.
“I want to say shout out to a defense, because they’ve been getting a lot of noise about how they been playing,” Jackson said, “and tonight they played lights out … Shout out to them guys because they did their thing tonight.”
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