On Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals won their eighth-straight game within the division after their 15-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The defending AFC North champions looked impressive on defense after they were embarrassed by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last weekend. Here’s a look at five factors from Sunday’s win.
Bengals’ defense bounces back
In Week 1, it was hard to believe Mike Zimmer’s defense ranked fourth overall in 2009. After Sunday’s game against the Ravens, the Bengals showed their defense can be just as effective as last season.
Cincinnati struggled to contain Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots’ offense during their 38-24 loss last weekend. Against Baltimore, they allowed just 10 points and caused problems for Joe Flacco the entire afternoon. Not only did the Bengals’ defense limit Flacco to completing just 17 of 39 passes for 154 yards with one touchdown, but they forced him to throw four interceptions. He also finished with a passer rating of 23.8.
Red zone struggles continue for Cincinnati
Despite the win, Cincinnati still has a lot to work on with their offense—even if they did play against a very talented Baltimore defense.
After establishing a strong running game last season, the Bengals added Terrell Owens, Jermaine Gresham, and Jordan Shipley during the offseason to improve their 26th ranked passing unit. The weapons are there on offense, but Cincinnati has struggled to use these players to their full potential.
Carson Palmer—who is now 9-3 against the Ravens—completed just 16 of 35 passes for 167 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions (which is a plus). He led the Bengals into the red zone four times on Sunday, but they were forced to settle for a field goal each time. While it turned out to work just fine against Baltimore, Cincinnati realizes field goals can only take a team so far and they will need to find the end zone more instead of settling for field goals in the future.
Mike Nugent looks impressive
During training camp, one of the most intense position battles for the Bengals was for the starting job at kicker between Mike Nugent and Dave Rayner. While it’s unfair to say Rayner wouldn’t have been able to display just as well of a performance against the Ravens, the team has to be relieved they gave the job to Nugent.
Nugent connected on all five of his attempts on Sunday—which ended up being the only points Cincinnati scored. The Bengals were impressed with Nugent’s kicking strength and three of his five kicks against the Ravens were beyond 36 yards—including a 46-yarder.
Adam Jones picks off Flacco for first interception as a Bengal
December 17, 2006 marked the last time Adam Jones recorded an interception. On Sunday, he picked off Flacco at the beginning of the second quarter—which eventually led to a field goal that gave the Bengals a 6-0 lead.
Many questioned whether or not signing Jones during the offseason was a smart move by Cincinnati. His first attempt with the Dallas Cowboys didn’t work out and he sat out the entire 2009 season since no teams were interested in signing him.
After an impressive training camp and preseason, Jones has been effective for the Bengals—both on defense and special teams. Hopefully, his first interception as a Bengal won’t be the last this season.
Ray Lewis blames refs for Ravens loss
Obviously, the Ravens are upset about Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, but no player seemed more frustrated than Ray Lewis.
Apparently, Lewis strongly believes the refs from Sunday’s game made numerous controversial calls that influenced the outcome of the game. This isn’t the first time Lewis has vented his frustrations about officiating to the media and he claims the Bengals “failed to earn their win.”
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