After your team loses 44-13 in their season opener, chances are even 2 days later after breaking down the game film you will not find many positives. His was able to point out a few positives, commenting on Andre Hawkins breakout night and the lack of offensive penalties in a hostile environment. Other then that it was difficult for Marvin to come across many good thoughts from this one. One interesting question that was directed toward Lewis was why he did not challenge the play that was ruled an AJ Green dropped pass late in the first quarter. It was a questionable play that would have made a difference no question about it because the Bengals would have been just outside the redzone but, it did not appear to be worth risking a timeout over. Lewis is a coach who has been criticized in the past about his use of challenges but I did not have a problem with the red hanky staying in his pocket this time around.
Marvin Lewis reiterated time and again that the defensive play was poor. This is an obvious statement but I wanted to focus in on one drive in particular. The drive that really exploited the defense was the Ravens opening drive of the third quarter. The Ravens started at their own 10 and were able to drive 90 yards in just 9 plays. That is not a case of you being beat up by a tough run game or getting beat underneath by a west coast offense. That is your defense being sliced and diced and the opponent doing whatever they feel like at any time. There first play of the drive was what started the tone when Flacco hit Dennis Pitta for 23 yards to get their backs away from their own endzone. This play was just a simple play action bootleg and the entire Bengals defense bit on the run. This left Pitta running free and an easy first down. This mistake goes solely on the linebackers. Someone needs to recognize the playaction and the tight end breaking off the line and run with him. The play on the drive that seriously bothered me was the Flacco to Rice 18 yard pass and catch. Rice was lined up as a widereceiver on the right side. It was as if no one on the Bengals defense recognized the fact that a potential MVP candidate was one on one with a corner back that will most likely struggle to tackle him in the open field. Struggle he did and Rice went free down the sideline for a big gain. At this point in the drive the Bengals defense was a mess and all the Ravens had to do was hand the ball to Rice to gash them for another 13 yards. On a second down play Leon Hall missed making the play that would have completely turned this game around for Cincinnati. Flacco was pressured by Peko and inexplicably threw the ball up for grabs. This was probably a play you or I could have made and it slipped out of Hall’s grasp. Needless to say on the next play Flacco threw a prayer to Pitta in the back of the endzone and he came down with it with relative ease. Big bodied tight ends tormenting this defense could become a reoccurring theme this season if this poor safety play continues. This drive basically summed up the issues the Bengals defense had all night. They could not cover down the field and when they actually forced Flacco into a poor decision that could not take advantage.