After looking dominant on both offense and defense for the first quarter, snagging a 7-0 lead while flummoxing Joe Flacco in the process, the Bengals seemed to fall asleep for the duration of the second quarter, allowing Baltimore to score 2 touchdowns to take a 14-7 halftime lead.
The scores were made possible primarily due to blown coverages by the suddenly-inexperienced Bengals secondary. With CB Leon Hall out for the year, Flacco looked to exploit replacements Kelly Jennings and Adam Jones.
Flacco first found Anquan Boldin on a 35-yard catch and run touchdown in what looked like an ugly misplay by the Bengal secondary. After a Bengal 3-and-out made worse by a shanked 15-yard Kevin Huber punt, Flacco went deep for rookie Torrey Smith, who caught the deep ball over Nate Clements. After Smith went out of bounds at the 5, Ray Rice took it in from there to take the lead.
The teams exchanged punts until Flacco was finally victimized by the Bengal defense. Nate Clements intercepted the Flacco pass to give the Bengals one more shot at a score, and after getting into Raven territory, Andy Dalton’s deep pass to the end zone was intercepted by Ed Reed, ending the last Bengal threat of the half.
The Bengals took control early with an impressive 82-yard drive made possible by an acrobatic, one-handed 42-yard catch by Jerome Simpson. Cedric Benson took it into the end zone for the first score of the game.
But the second quarter was all Baltimore.
The Ravens will get the ball first to start the second half.
Thoughts on the first half:
- The Ravens are clearly looking to exploit the undermanned Bengal secondary, so all the talk about Ray Rice getting more touches is either a smoke screen, or the Ravens have changed that mindset. By-and-large, the Ravens have not had much success running the ball.
- Bernard Scott looks better running the ball than Cedric Benson. AGAIN. I really don’t understand why Benson continues to get the bulk of the carries.
- Andrew Hawkins continues to impress. I argued earlier in the week that the Bengals needed to use him more in the slot. They still need to do that.
- Jermaine Gresham has been quiet in the first half.