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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Chris Roling

Instant analysis after Bengals survive Ravens, advance in playoffs

The Cincinnati Bengals held on in the wild card round of the playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens, 24-17.

The Bengals fell behind 10-9 by halftime and suffered a few critical injuries in the process. They then entered the fourth quarter tied 17-17 before a historic defensive touchdown by Sam Hubbard.

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Here’s a look at some quick notes and stats to know from the game.


Quick Hits

— Burrow started the opening drive 5-of-5 then ended 0-of-3, going 14 plays and more than six minutes of game clock before an Evan McPherson field goal. Not bad and established the run, but it was clear Burrow might need to get out of the pocket more.

— Akeem Davis-Gaither cut off a pass intended for Mark Andrews and intercepted it on Baltimore’s first drive. Tyler Huntley just never saw him.

— The Akeem Davis-Gaither interception.

— Ja’Marr Chase torched Marcus Peters down the field after the interception, catching five passes and capping it off with a seven-yard touchdown.

— Another red flag for special teams: Evan McPherson missed the extra point, making it 9-0 instead of 10-0.

— Bengals defense gave up a 17-play touchdown drive, 12 of those on the ground. That’s a big red flag on its own, as it’s the exact game the Ravens wanted to play and what could let them pull off an upset.

— Yet another red flag — left tackle Jonah Williams suffered a knee injury and that put Jackson Carman in the game.

— Starting cornerback Eli Apple also suffered an injury.

— Big four-point swing by the Bengals defense by preventing a touchdown at the end of the half. That meant being down 10-9 instead of much worse.

— Out of the halftime tunnel, Bengals offense looped in some new things like pistol formations and play-action to go the length of the field for a touchdown, a short Burrow rush. Burrow then hit Tee Higgins for the two-point conversion.

— Of major note? Carman looked solid at left tackle on his first drive, his natural position in college. Might be something to watch closely.

— Eli Apple got cooked on a deep Ravens touchdown, biting on what he thought would be a short throw. That tied the game at 17 — the most points the Ravens have scored in game since losing Lamar Jackson in early December.

— One of the wildest plays onlookers will ever see: Sam Hubbard scored a 98-yard touchdown in a stunning game-changing play.

— Three straight punts for the Bengals offense while having a chance to close the game out. Not unexpected given the Ravens defense and needing to change things because of injuries. But the offense needed the defense to carry the second half and key moments.


Key Stat

364-234: The Ravens offense actually outgained the Bengals offense in this one. The defense kept giving up big chunk plays and the offense came up short, especially in the second half while dealing with injuries.


Game Balls

QB Joe Burrow: Who else? Three backup linemen in the game or not, Burrow did what he could, finishing 23-of-32 with 209 yards and one touchdown.

WR Ja’Marr Chase: It would appear there isn’t a flaw to Chase’s game and he put that on full display Sunday night, doing a little bit of everything on the way to nine catches for 84 yards with the touchdown.

DE Sam Hubbard: Other players get credit for stopping the run and knocking the ball away, but it was Hubbard who had the awareness to scoop it and run nearly 100 yards, needing an oxygen mask on the sidelines after.


Top Takeaway

Ugly: This was always going to be an AFC North bout. The Bengals had some unusual struggles on the defensive side of the ball that really let the Ravens play the style of game they want to play in order to steal an upset win. Injuries didn’t help. The Bengals need to seriously fix some things in just a week’s time before going to face the Bills on the road in the divisional round.

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