Baltimore Ravens Shut Out Cincinnati Bengals 20-0 in Opener

The Baltimore Ravens secured a win against the Cincinnati Bengals as they forced five turnovers on defense and did just enough running the ball on offense.

With the offseason additions on the defense, many people knew the Baltimore Ravens defense should be just as good as last year, if not better. But nobody expected a shut out against an above average offense in the Cincinnati Bengals, as the Ravens haven’t shut out a team since 2009. They also hadn’t won a game in Paul Brown Stadium since 2011.

Forcing Andy Dalton to throw four interceptions and fumble once shows how dominant this Ravens defense can be this season.

But this game still had some injuries to monitor for next week’s game against the Cleveland Browns as Danny Woodhead (hamstring) and Za’Darius Smith (knee) departed. Here are some takeaways I took from this game for the Baltimore Ravens.

The Baltimore Ravens defense could be a Top 5 defense in the league in 2017.

Due to the Bengals struggling offensive line, the whole Ravens defensive line and pass rushers like Terrell Suggs had a field day putting pressure on Dalton. Suggs had a monster day against left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi as he had two sacks and a forced fumble.

Tony Jefferson, Michael Pierce, and Za’Darius Smith (before he had a knee injury) all had sacks as Dalton was pressured relatively all day. Also, many passes were tipped by the defensive line and two of them led to interceptions by Ladarius Webb and Brandon Carr.

Dalton also threw interceptions to C.J. Mosely and Jimmy Smith as his receivers struggled to get open against an upgraded secondary. Tony Jefferson and C.J. Mosely lead with way with five tackles each. The run defense was overall good and the combination of running backs Jeremy Hill, Gio Bernard, and Joe Mixon had a combined 21 carries for 75 yards and no rushing touchdowns.

The Ravens defense kept A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert relatively in check, only giving up six total catches for both of them with less than 80 receiving yards combined.  And according to Pro Football Focus, nose tackle Brandon Williams was a force throughout the game against the pass and the run game with three hurries and a run stop.

If the Ravens can keep this defensive performance up, this could be a very good defensive year for the Ravens and can be better than last year.

Even though Joe Flacco wasn’t spectacular, it was good to see some chemistry between his wide receivers like Jeremy Maclin.

Joe Flacco had a pretty good performance, coming off a back injury in the offseason that forced him to miss out the entire preseason. I think the running game eased him into the game with a lot of run plays but the connection with Jeremy Maclin was nice to see, catching two passes for 56 yards and a receiving touchdown.

I would expect Flacco to look for the deep shots next week as he gets more comfortable in the offense with the playbook. Flacco went 9/17 for 121 passing yards with a passing touchdown but also an interception, which was a tipped pass.

Danny Woodhead was involved in the first drive before he was injured with a hamstring injury, catching three passes for 33 yards. The rest of the receivers and tight ends were pretty quiet, but Flacco didn’t have to do much as the Bengals struggled with the Ravens run game.

The commitment and the success of the run game was a very encouraging thing to see as all the Ravens running backs had a decent amount of carries.

Ravens assistant offensive coordinator Greg Roman made sure that the Ravens ran the ball consistently and effectively. Although he is the tight ends coach as well, Roman made sure that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg emphasized the utilization of the running backs. While the Ravens offensive line had an ok showing against a good Bengals defensive line, the Ravens running backs all had carries in the rotation and were heavily involved in the offense.

They had a few penalties and gave up a sack to defensive tackle Geno Atkins but with all the moving pieces, it was better than expected. Terrance West, the Ravens main back, had 19 carries for 80 yards and a rushing touchdown. Javorius “Buck” Allen and Danny Woodhead both had 22 carries and 75 rushing yards combined. If Danny Woodhead’s injury is severe, the Ravens could put Alex Collins or Jeremy Langford on the active roster next week.

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Andrew Kim

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