Entering Monday’s season opener against division rival Baltimore the Bengals knew this would be a difficult game to win especially on the road. Going into this game the Ravens have won 10 straight games on their home turf. Unfortunately for Cincinnati they were able to make it 11 straight home wins with relative ease. Before halftime the Bengals were able to punch the ball in with new comer Ben Jarvus-Green Ellis late and make it only a 7 point deficit. To start the second half it looked like the Bengals were going to keep this thing close all the way through by chewing up some clock and getting inside the 10 yard line before having to settle for a field goal. Although not scoring on this impressive drive to begin the half was disappointing it was still an important 3 points, or so we thought. The Bengals defense which struggled from start to finish let Joe Flacco dice them up on the next drive to make it a 24-13 deficit. With a struggling defense the last thing the Bengals needed was a three and out and this is what they got. This was the first moment in the game where you felt as though the Bengals were being over matched. Baltimore was able to tack on another 3 points to make it 27-13 on their next drive. Getting late in the third quarter and now down by 14 the Bengals were becoming desperate. On 3rd down Andy Dalton showed desperation. He attempted to hit A.J. with a ball that never should have been thrown and Ed Reed picked it off and took it 34 yards for a Ravens TD. This interception return made Ed Reed NFL’s all time interception yards leader and all but sealed the deal on the Bengals season opener.
The final score made this one look worse then it truly was. While it no way is it good to lose to a division rival by 31 it was only a couple of plays that made the difference. Something we talked about here in the preseason turned out to be a problem at certain times last night and that was the offensive line. The unit allowed Dalton to be taken down 4 times. That is too many sacks allowed but what can be taken into consideration is that your playing one of the best defensive units in the league even with out Terrell Suggs. The defense just flat out was not impressive. Flacco was able to have his way with the secondary all night and what was a strength last season looked like a weakness last night and that was the run defense. One positive to take from the game was the play of Green-Ellis. Considering the score he did not receive many carries late in the game and still ran for 89 yards against a stout Baltimore run defense. There are definitely things that need to be cleaned up before week 2 against Cleveland but, I would not hit the panic button on this team just yet.