Week 9 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 21, Baltimore Ravens 9
What you need to know
The Bengals were able to win their seventh game of the season behind a solid, pound it out running attack and timely completions by Carson Palmer. Rudi Johnson had 29 carries, a season high for him, and was able to tire the Ravens’ defense out with short two and three yard gains down after down. While holes didn’t really open for the running game, defenders were not able to reach the runner in the backfield, allowing the Bengals to avoid negative plays.
Carson Palmer was able to break up the Ravens’ initial defensive plan of shutting down Chad Johnson by hitting T.J. Houshmandzadeh early and often. The Ravens initially were shading a safety over to Johnson’s side consistently, but after the first half they were forced to abandon that philosophy. Palmer was protected well all game long, and while he was sacked three times, two of those sacks came on the first possession. Palmer was able to hit two secondary receivers, Tab Perry and Chris Henry, with touchdowns (Henry had a second reversed after official review).
Defensively, the Bengals shut down every aspect of the Ravens’ offense except for the quarterback scramble. The front seven were able to break down the inside of the line consistently and rush Anthony Wright out of the pocket, but once out Wright (and later Kordell Stewart) were able to use pump fakes and jukes to out maneuver linebackers on the perimeter. In fact, over one-fourth of the Ravens’ offense came on quarterback scrambles. Both Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor were shut down, often getting hit behind the line.
The Ravens had trouble offensively all game long, struggling to get the ball to their playmakers. Anthony Wright was only able to complete five passes to Derrick Mason, and the passes Mason did catch were not in open space, and he was tackled soon thereafter. Only two other wide receivers caught a pass at all in the game, making the second wide receiver (when there was one) pretty irrelevant. Todd Heap was targeted eight times but only managed four catches for 28 yards, and lost a fumble in the first half. Heap was only targeted one time in the second half, as Anthony Wright seemed to prefer Daniel Wilcox when in trouble. Chester Taylor was a favorite of Anthony Wright’s when he got in trouble, catching five passes but was unable to break one for a big gain.
The running game was pretty anemic, and that was due to the offensive line’s poor play. Defenders were in the backfield constantly, hitting Jamal Lewis early and stopping him from finding a hole. Jamal Lewis’ north-south style was better suited to this type of game than Chester Taylor’s east-west running. Casey Rabach’s absence has made a difference this year for the running game, as the offensive lineman appear unable to recognize blitzes correctly.
When Anthony Wright went down with an ankle injury in the third quarter, Kordell Stewart saw his first action as a quarterback since the 2003 season when he was with the Bears (he was used briefly as a punter last season). Stewart still had pep in his step, running for 30 yards on three carries. He didn’t attempt a pass but nearly caught one on a reverse pass from Randy Hymes.
What you ought to know
|QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 19 - 26 - 248 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - -3 - 0|
Palmer ran the offense well, didn’t force things, and made the key throws when necessary. The Bengals ran the ball extensively, so Palmer only had to manage the game, throwing only 26 times. The offensive line protected him well, giving him time to throw. Early on, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was Palmer’s favorite target, as the Ravens focused on locking Chad Johnson down. Later in the game, with the coverage loosened, Palmer was able to find Chad Johnson downfield for a 48 yard pass near the right sideline. Only nine of Palmer’s 26 pass attempts were intended for non wide receivers, so Palmer was able to get the ball downfield quite well. Both of Palmer’s touchdown passes came from close range, one on a shovel pass to Tab Perry, the other on a three yard pass to Chris Henry.
|RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 29 - 97 - 1, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)|
Johnson had his heaviest workload this season, and third heaviest of his career, with 29 carries against the Ravens. He averaged 3.3 yards per carry, and his longest carry was only 11 yards, but he was consistently able to get the tough yardage when needed. Johnson’s runs were almost exclusively between the tackles to take advantage of the absence of Ray Lewis. His lone touchdown run almost didn’t happen, as Chris Perry was inches away from scoring on the previous play before stepping out of bounds.
|RB Chris Perry, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)|
Perry was used on long third downs as usual, but didn’t receive as much playing time as he has previously because the Bengals were generally in short, convertible third downs. Perry’s lone carry was nearly a touchdown. He stepped out of bounds with his left foot just before he stretched the ball over the goal line. This allowed Rudi Johnson to score the touchdown, and not Perry. Perry was injured on the Bengals’ final touchdown drive, appearing to be in immense pain and limping off the field. He would return to the game later that drive, though, and caught a pass.
Johnson was targeted twice but failed to catch a pass. He was used mainly as a blocking fullback.
Houshmandzadeh was a focal point for the Bengals’ game plan against the Ravens. He was targeted with the first pass of the game, and targeted five times total in the first half. He was targeted four times on the Bengals’ first touchdown drive, one that ended in a Rudi Johnson touchdown plunge. Houshmandzadeh was a favorite target on third down and midrange, of between six and three yards. Overall, despite not having outstanding numbers, Houshmandzadeh played a good game, using his body to shield defenders away from the ball, forcing the defenders to commit pass interference to deflect the pass.
Johnson had a relatively quiet day by his standards, as the Bengals emphasized the run to the detriment of the pass. Covered by Chris McAlister most of the game, Johnson made a spectacular 48 yard reception on the Bengals’ final touchdown drive on a fly route down the right sideline. He went airborne, his body almost parallel with the ground, to catch the deep pass. His other four catches were generally over the middle slants to pick up short yardage and convert. This was the third consecutive game without a touchdown for Johnson, after scoring four weeks out of five between week two and week six.
Henry caught three of the four passes thrown his way, including one for a three yard touchdown. He could have had a second touchdown, though. Henry caught a 34 yard bomb from Carson Palmer in the corner of the end zone for what was initially called a touchdown, but was reversed upon review. After catching the touchdown that wasn’t reversed, Henry was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for celebrating excessively.
Walter caught the only pass thrown at him. He ran a slight slant towards the right hash and was hit hard right as he caught the ball by Will Demps. Walter was able to keep his balance and run another 20 yards downfield before being brought down.
Perry’s only catch was for a touchdown. Perry began the play in the backfield, and caught a shovel pass from Carson Palmer at the line of scrimmage. He was able to navigate through a maze of defenders into the end zone. Perry handles kickoff returns as well, and fumbled on one of them after a vicious hit from Chester Taylor. Luckily for Perry, he was able to recover the ball after the fumble.
Schobel caught the only pass thrown at him, but then fumbled as he was getting forced down near the sideline. The fumble was returned by Will Demps for what was initially ruled a touchdown but, luckily for Schobel, a referee had blown an inadvertent whistle which stopped the play dead where the fumble was recovered.
Kelly was targeted once on a pass that fell incomplete. He was used mainly as a blocking tight end.
Graham missed his only field goal attempt in the game, a 48 yard attempt. He made all three extra point attempts.
The Bengals allowed 124 yards rushing, but 66 of those yards came on the feet of quarterbacks Anthony Wright and Kordell Stewart. Excluding quarterback scrambles, the Bengals only allowed 58 yards rushing on 18 carries, or an average of 3.2 yards per carry. There weren’t many holes to run through, and oftentimes defenders were able to get to ball carriers in the backfield. They didn’t give up any breakaway runs to the running backs either, with the long of the day being 11 yards. Landon Johnson and Bobby Simmons led the way from the OLB spots, combining for 15 tackles, two assists, and a sack.
The Bengals held a beleaguered Ravens offense to only 116 yards passing. They limited Derrick Mason to five catches, bracketing him with multiple defenders almost all the time. No other wide receiver was able to make any sort of impact, as Patrick Johnson and Randy Hymes (one catch each) were the only other wide receivers able to record a catch. The pass rush was formidable, as Anthony Wright has people in his face all game and had to run for his life. Ifeanyi Ohalete led the secondary with five tackles and two assists.
|QB Anthony Wright, Pass: 19 - 30 - 153 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 36 - 0|
Anthony Wright had an up and down game but in the end, he couldn’t get the job done. He was unable to find his receivers downfield, as he only completed seven passes to his wide receivers. The majority of his pass attempts were dumps to his tight ends and running backs, and few of those were the way the plays were designed. The Ravens’ offensive line played badly, and Wright was under pressure quickly for the entire game. So, while Wright’s completion percentage of 63% looks pretty good, his performance wasn’t. Wright was able to use his mobility to escape the pass rush on a few occasions, rushing for a total of 36 yards. He injured his ankle in the third quarter and was replaced by Kordell Stewart for the rest of that drive before re-entering the game. After returning to the game, Wright wasn’t as mobile and was more susceptible to getting sacked.
Stewart entered the game late in the third quarter when Anthony Wright injured his ankle. He led the Ravens on a disjointed, but successful, drive down the field. He actually never attempted a pass, but ran the ball three times and actually had an opportunity to catch a pass. On a reverse to Randy Hymes, Stewart ran down the left sideline and had the Hymes pass just drop off his fingertips. Stewart’s speed was clearly evident, as he was able to use pump fakes to get defenders in the air and then his speed to burn past them.
Lewis had a semi-disappointing outing, rushing for only 49 yards and failing to make a real impact. He averaged under 3.3 yards per carry, failing to reach four yards per carry for the seventh time in eight games this season. The majority of his yards were gained in the first half, as he only managed to gain 19 yards in the second half on seven carries. On clear passing downs, Lewis was removed for Chester Taylor, and in fact Lewis was rarely used as a pass receiver at all, instead blocking when he wasn’t running the football. Lewis was able to gain positive yardage on most plays, but often those plays only resulted in one or two yard gains.
Taylor saw action in clear passing situation but rarely carried, as has become the norm. On his three runs, his lack of a downhill style hurt him as defenders were in the backfield quickly. He was once again a favorite target of Anthony Wright’s in the passing game, catching all five passes thrown his way. Generally the passes thrown his way were hot reads, and not by design.
The rookie was targeted twice, catching a pass once. It was his third straight week with one catch.
Derrick Mason wasn’t targeted as often as usual, as the pass rush forced Anthony Wright to check down quickly. He was able to get open consistently, though, on a good mixture of different routes. It was his seventh game this season out of eight with at least five catches. Mason was able to gain modest yards after the catch, but the ineffectiveness of the Ravens’ running game allowed the Bengals to play more zone schemes negating most runs after the catch. Mason was a good target on short slants to pick up tough yards.
|WR Randy Hymes, Pass: 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets)|
Hymes was able to catch one pass for a short gain. He nearly made a spectacular play though. He received a handoff from Kordell Stewart on an apparent reverse, then turned around and threw the ball for Stewart down the left sideline. He barely overthrew Stewart, as the pass bounced off his fingertips.
Johnson made only his second catch since 2003 (when he was a member of the Redskins). He gained 19 yards towards the end of the second half to convert a key third down that allowed the Ravens to kick a field goal.
Heap was targeted more than any other Ravens’ receiver, but wasn’t able to do much with his opportunities. He was targeted over the middle almost exclusively. Seven of his eight targets occurred during the first half, but he did not leave the game due to injury. He fumbled the ball in the second quarter and Kevin Kaesviharn recovered. Late in the game instead of looking to Heap, the preferred tight end seemed to be Daniel Wilcox.
Wilcox was the preferred tight end in the second half after Todd Heap struggled early. Four of Wilcox’s five targets came his way in the second half. He was only able to catch two of these five targets, however, but that wasn’t a reflection of his play really. The passes that came his way were hot reads, and weren’t on target all the time. The Ravens played in two tight end formations most of the day because of the formidable Bengals‘ pass rush, so Wilcox saw a lot of playing time.
Stover hit all three of his field goal attempts from 34, 32, and 31 yards. He didn’t attempt any extra points.
The Ravens only allowed 98 yards rushing, but they were the tough, pound it out yards and were a key in today’s game. Rudi Johnson carried the ball 29 times for 97 yards, and his longest run of the day was 11 yards. There were many one, two, and three yards gains in there. Johnson was rarely stopped for a loss, and always drove forward. The Ravens did an admirable job slowing the run without their top two defenders, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who missed the game with injuries. In fact, Bart Scott, Lewis’ replacement, led the team with nine tackles and two assists, and tacked on a sack as well.
The Ravens allowed 231 yards passing, most of those yards coming in key situations. Chad Johnson led the Bengals with five receptions for 91 yards, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh tacked on 61 yards on five receptions as well. The Ravens were able to shut down Chad Johnson in the first half, but once Houshmandzadeh did well, they were forced to switch to a more base defense which opened up holes for Johnson. The Ravens’ defense nearly scored on a fumble recovery by Will Demps, but an inadvertent whistle blew the play dead after Demps recovered the fumble, negating his potential touchdown return. The Ravens were unable to intercept any passes, and they only have four interceptions on the season.