CINCINNATI (WTVQ) – The 2017 Cincinnati Bengals 50th season opened up on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Three themes became apparent, and they begin with “P”.
- Penalties…the Bengals started off the 2017 campaign with a penalty, and they continued from there. They have never been the most disciplined team, with good intentions often thwarted by yellow flags. In this case, the early minutes of the game were heavy with zebra striped justice as a number of Bengals players ended up on the wrong side of NFL law. This theme recurred throughout the afternoon. The good news is that the Ravens gave back their fair share of real estate as well. The referees seemed to be having their own QB competition on the field.
- Protection…for both teams, protection of the quarterback was tenuous at best. Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco both got to practice some jukes and jives as the defense pressured them repeatedly throughout the game. They both also had the opportunity to investigate the integrity of the Paul Brown Stadium turf from up close and personal.
- Passing…this has much to do with with the prior P observation. Andy Dalton made many attempts at passing and he had some success with both orange and purple jerseys. Several good drives ended with the Bengals offense trying to tackle a Raven with a new pigskin treasure. He threw 3 interceptions in the first half, two off of tipped balls. Dalton also struggled with deep accuracy, overthrowing an easy TD in the closing minutes of the 2nd quarter as Cody Core had left his defender watching from a distance as he took off along the sidelines. The Cincinnati loyal noticed the struggles and supported with “boos”towards Dalton by halftime.
With all of this in mind, both teams played like it was the first game of the season. There was plenty of rust and missed opportunities. During the first half, neither team seemed interested in demonstrating any offensive might until the Ravens took the bull by the horns with a 48 pass TD to Jeremy Maclin with 1:52 left in the 2nd and then followed that up a mere 24 seconds later with a 2 yard Terrance West touchdown run after the 3rd Andy Dalton interception of the half. The Bengals went into the tunnel at halftime down 17-0.
The early tide in the 2nd half turned in the Bengals’ favor with a tipped pass interception of Joe Flacco deep in Ravens territory in the early minutes of the 3rd quarter. The momentum went back out when that “P” for lack of protection resulted in another turnover; when Dalton fumbled the ball while scrambling out of the pocket. The Ravens then went about the task of eating up the clock; including a 9-plus minute drive resulting in a field goal and a 20 point lead. The figurative fire drill cranked up with 9:54 left in the game as fans stormed the exits with the anguish of another Bengals offensive drive.
The Bengals were favored consistently in this matchup. The Ravens showed up more than expected and Cincy struggled on multiple levels. Staying with the theme of “P’s,” the weather was perfect, but the home team was pummeled. Final score, Ravens 20, Bengals 0. The Bengals will be back in action in four days for Thursday Night Football against the Texans at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.