With just a few minutes left in Sunday's Baltimore Ravens/Cincinnati Bengals AFC North tilt, it looked like the Ravens would get off the snide with their first win of 2015. However, late fireworks by the Bengals finished off Baltimore and sent the Ravens to 0-3 for the first time in franchise history. Here's 3 things we learned from both teams in the Bengals' 28-24 win.
1. The Ravens Are Snake-Bitten
Baltimore fans' heads are still spinning after a late six-play, 80-yard drive by the Bengals (capped off by the 2nd Andy Dalton/AJ Green connection of the game) ripped the hearts out of the crowd in one painful swoop. Last week's shootout loss in Oakland is one thing. Watching victory slide out of your hands against a division rival in your home opener in a loss that drops you to 0-3? That's the stuff that can kill seasons EARLY.
2. This Loss Isn't On Joe Flacco, Steve Smith
Ravens QB Joe Flacco did everything in his power and then some to put the Ravens in the win column today, throwing for 362 yards while connecting with Steve Smith Sr. on two highlight reel TDs. Smith finished with 13 catches for 186 yards, but it wasn't enough to stop the Ravens' season-opening slide. Consolation game balls go to both guys, but that won't make anyone in Baltimore feel any better.
3. Baltimore's Season Will Be Defined By The Next Four Weeks
It's possible the Steelers could be without Ben Roethlisberger (knee injury) for this coming Thursday's Ravens/Steelers clash in Pittsburgh, but that's still going to be a TOUGH short week road game for Baltimore -- especially with it serving as an early-season must win. If Baltimore can get that one, they'll have a long week to prepare for a reeling Browns squad before subsequent trips to San Francisco and Arizona. If Baltimore doesn't go at least 3-1 in those four games, we might have to write them off in a stacked AFC playoff race.
1. AJ Green Is BANANAS
The Bengals star wide receiver had a career day on Sunday, posting 10 catches for a personal-best 227 yards and two touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was an INSANE 80-yard streak-and-score where he bullied a litany of defenders going backwards (!) to finish it off. Other wide receivers have established and reestablished themselves as elite threats, but AJ Green may very well be the best of the bunch.
2. Andy Dalton Isn't Shying Away From His Critics
Having AJ Green helps a lot, but there's still plenty of praise due to Dalton. Heavily criticized by everyone and their mother before the season, Dalton has thrown 8 TDs against just one pick this year, including a 3-to-0 TD/INT ratio on Sunday (to go with his 383 yards passing). His true test will come this winter, but all is well with the Ginger Bomber in Cincy right now.
3. Cincy Is The Class Of The AFC North
The Steelers are 2-1, but we have no clue who will be their quarterback next week, the week after, or the week after that with the MRI on Big Ben's knee yet to come. The Browns remain an also-ran after a deflating home loss to Oakland on Sunday and we've already spelled out the Ravens' woes. The Bengals own the AFC North now and for the foreseeable future in 2015.Back to the Cincinnati Bengals Newsfeed