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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
John Dillon

Halftime analysis of Ravens’ Wild Card matchup against the Bengals

The Baltimore Ravens are fighting for their season heading into halftime in their Wild Card matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. Though inconsistent early in the game, the Ravens’ offense found traction in the second quarter and coupled with the excellent play of their defense, Baltimore was able to jump out to a lead just before the halftime whistle.

A halftime points advantage by the score of 10-9 has the Ravens in a favorable position now, but against the Bengals, their lead may not be as secure as it seems. The Ravens will need to continue to adjust to Cincinnati’s game plan to pull off an improbable win on the road against their divisional rival.

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Here are our thoughts on the Ravens’ first-half performance:

The Ravens have relied on their running game to lead the offense downfield

Baltimore has kept the ball on the ground so far in this matchup and has only let Tyler Huntley throw the ball 12 times. Compare that to their 18 carries by four ball carriers, and the Ravens’ offensive coaching staff is sending a clear message that they believe this game will be won with their grit in the running game.

While this strategy may have led them to 10 points in the first half, it isn’t likely to continue working as time winds down against the Bengals’ high-octane offense. Without an effective passing game to compliment J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards on the ground, Baltimore likely won’t be able to keep up their rushing production in the third and fourth quarters.

Baltimore's pass rush has kept Joe Burrow from letting Bengals get a bigger lead

Even though they’ve surrendered some points, the Ravens’ defense has held its own against the Bengals’ well-balanced offense. Burrow has been kept at bay largely because of Baltimore’s tenacious pass rush which has been led by Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh, who have both registered sacks in the game.

Heading into the third quarter, their attention will turn to forcing a few more turnovers that may be able to give the Ravens’ offense an opening with favorable field position. Watch for playmakers in Baltimore’s secondary and linebacker corps to step up in the second half to give the Ravens a spark in crunch time.

Ravens must stay disciplined, fall back on fundamentals to lead second-half comeback

Baltimore has no more margin for error. Their season will end if they aren’t able to make good on this early lead in the second half of this Wild Card matchup. They cannot afford to miss kicks, surrender valuable field position on kickoffs, or turn the ball over when they possess it.

This second half will need to be a masterclass by John Harbaugh and his coaching staff if the Ravens intend to advance in these playoffs, but if they can muster something special, this game will have all the makings of a signature road win.

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