By Daniel Benjamin
The Baltimore Ravens’ struggles against the Cincinnati Bengals continued on Sunday.
The Ravens came into their game against the Bengals knowing that their season would come to a conclusion at the end of the game, regardless of the outcome. Still, the Ravens had a few reasons to play to win and, according to coach John Harbaugh, that was the plan going into the game. But the Ravens were out of sync all day long as they looked emotionally drained from their three previous high-intensity contests.
Baltimore ended its 2016 season with an 8-8 record following its 27-10 setback to Cincinnati, marking the first time time since 1997-98 that the Ravens have finished with consecutive non-winning seasons. The loss was also the Ravens’ fifth straight at Paul Brown Stadium and their seventh in the last nine games overall to the Bengals.
“What I was disappointed with execution.” Harbaugh said following the loss. “We didn’t have an edge in first half. For whatever reason, our emotional level wasn’t where it needed to be. I felt that coming off last week’s loss (to Steelers). It was definitely our worst game of the year.”
Turnovers—more specifically, interceptions—and leaving points on the field have been a recurring theme this season for the Ravens. That trend continued against the Bengals as the Ravens turned the ball over twice, and scored just one touchdown in four trips to the red zone. They finish the season with 23 turnovers; 16 of which were from interceptions. They also entered the game ranked 18th in red zone efficiency at 54.76 percent.
Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 65.3 percent of his passes, but attempted 47 and only threw for 267 yards along with one interception. It is the sixth consecutive game that Flacco has thrown a pick, and it was his 15th of the season, which is the second most of his career. The interception was a result of Flacco making a poor decision and trying to force the pass to tight end Dennis Pitta in the back of the end zone. Baltimore was trailing 17-3 at the time.
Flacco was also sacked three times before being pulled for backup Ryan Mallett, who also tossed an interception. He set a club record with 4,276 yards, breaking Vinny Testaverde’s 1996 total of 4,177.
Pitta had a huge game, hauling in a season-high 11 passes for 91 yards. Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who is expected to retire, had three receptions for 35 yards. If Smith does retire, he will end his illustrious career with 51 games of 100 receiving yards, which is fourth most of all time. Mike Wallace had four receptions for 33 yards to give him his second career 1,000 yard receiving season of his career.
The Ravens D put up little resistance today as they allowed the Bengals to score on the first three possessions and produce 372 total yards of offense. They also permitted 152 yards on the ground. Their once No. 1 ranked run defense has permitted at least 95 yards in four straight games, and over 100 yards in the last three.
Baltimore’s biggest problem was that they got no pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton and their defensive line was dominated upfront. The Ravens only recorded one sack—linebacker Elvis Dumervil—along with two quarterback hits and one tackle tackle for loss.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley led the team with 12 tackles.
Special Teams: B
Kicker Justin Tucker made his only field goal attempt, a 36-yarder, to match his own team record of 38. He finishes the season 38-of-39 on field goal attempts and 27-of-27 on extra points. Punter Sam Koch tied his season-long kick of 68 yards and twice pinned the Bengals inside the 20. The Ravens didn’t generate much in the return game, though Mike Campanaro did return one punt 17 yards.
The Ravens ran the ball decently as they garnered 72 yards on 16 carries (4.5 yards a game). The problem, as has been the case this year, was that the Ravens went away from running it too quickly. There are rumors going around that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will be not be returning to the team.
Baltimore has a bunch of decisions to make as they have 11 potential free agents. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and right tackle RickWagner, along with Ryan Mallett, are the key free agents.