The Ravens had the lead for a measly 2 plays, and a total of 48 seconds against the Bengals, also quarterback Joe Flacco did not look comfortable in Gary Kubiak’s offense. Their 23-16 home defeat to the Bengals marked the first time under John Harbaugh they’ve been beaten at M&T Bank Stadium to open the season. 1st time since 2005
The Ravens certainly had the air taken out their sails with the Bengals fast start (flashback to 2013), but despite only giving up four FG’s the “Purple and Black” could not gain an edge over the Bengals, and did not score until the third quarter. Flacco was sacked a total of 3 times for a loss of 16 yards. With 8 seconds to go in the first half, Flacco committed a boneheaded play to take a sack instead of throwing the ball away. Preventing Justin Tucker from a FG opportunity to end the first half. That would prove decisive for the Ravens, and their momentum as they put up goose egg on the scoreboard at halftime, trailing 15-0.
“At the end of the first half, that was probably the stupidest play I’ve ever made in football. I kind of just got caught up in the play and forgot about the situation. There’s no excuse for it, can’t happen,” Flacco said.
Ray Rice’s two-game suspension was in effect and was felt during the game. RB back Bernard Peirce who started in place of Rice, would be benched early in the 2nd quarter, and did not return to the game due to a fumble after only salvaging 14 yards.
“I kind of got put airborne, and the ball just kind of slipped away from me. He grabbed my arm and just pulled it out… “I thought I was down, yes, but it’s 50-50,” Pierce said.
As a result, Harbaugh then turned to Justin Forsett who the organization signed to a 1-year deal in the off-season, because he’s very familiar with Kubiak’s system. Forsett showed his speed, running for a 13-yrd TD, to give the Ravens their first points of the game, in the third. Harbaugh was questioned about his “benching” of Pierce, and whether it was injury related, or something else?
“No, it wasn’t a health decision. He’s fine. He’s healthy. I guess you can extrapolate from there (laughter). We’re not too enamored with fumbles. It’s not what we’re looking for from our running backs,” Harbaugh said.
As far as how Steve Smith looked on his new club, it was a clear indication that in week one, some players are still rusty even though they have gone through over four months of training. Smith had 4 out of the 7 team drops.
Flacco would continue to trust Smith even though he did contribute to the majority of the teams’ drops, and late in the fourth the patience would pay off, as Smith grabbed an 80-yard pass for a TD. That glimpse of a highlight reel for the Ravens, is not what the team will focus on a short week preparing for the Steelers. Flacco finished the day completing only 56 % of his passes, and the seven year veteran, was making mistakes as if he was he was in his first or second year in the NFL, Although as Smith pointed out, his WR’s didn’t help either.
“Offensively, we just couldn’t get it done. As receivers we didn’t play as well as we could. We came in at halftime and we basically… We screwed ourselves receiver-wise as best as we could; we dropped all the ‘gimmies,’ but we caught all the hard ones. We’ve just got to play better, but things can happen and you’ve got to take responsibility. This receiver group has a lot of opportunities to be great, and today I think we overthought things and ran before we had the ball. We’ve just got to play better,” Smith Sr. said.
Back to the drawing board, with not much time to spare.