In the wake of Baltimore’s 44-13 beatdown, it’s going to be an ice pack kind of Tuesday for a lot of Bengals players and Bengal Nation as well. There aren’t too many positives to take away, but I’ll mine the wreckage to see if I can find a black box.
1. I thought that Carlos Dunlap was the most important defensive player last year and tonight did nothing to change my opinion. Ray Rice ran all over Cincy’s defense and Joe Flacco wasn’t pressured frequently enough to disrupt Baltimore’s passing game. If Dunlap can come back healthy, hopefully sooner rather than later, there’s hope for some improvement on both fronts. Dunlap is the team’s best pass rusher and should also give a jolt to the team’s rush defense. With Dunlap out yesterday, Cincinnati was grossly overmatched by a Ravens offensive line that is good, but not dominant.
2. I will be very happy when Ed Reed retires. It’s amazing how often he ends up in the right position and equally amazing how dangerous he is on returns. I mean, he beat Andre Smith in a footrace to the endzone. Impressive. But all jokes aside, Reed has killed the Bengals way too many times for my liking. It’ll be quite nice when he’s watching Ravens games from his couch.
3. There are some glimmers of hope for the offensive line as the season progresses. The young guards and center Jeff Faine held up rather well in a hostile environment. The team converted some key short-yardage plays. And the worst hits Andy Dalton took seemed to be his own fault or a result of breakdowns by running backs.
4. Andrew Hawkins proved once again why he deserves several touches a game for Cincinnati. He is sure-handed and explosive in the open field. In the Bengals’ West Coast offense, Hawkins is a perfect fit.
5. I was a little disappointed by the way the Bengals finished the game. Everyone knew the Ravens were going to win rather early in the second half. But Cincinnati seemed too slow on offense and punchless on defense in the closing minutes. I believe this team has plenty of heart and will show it later in the season. But there wasn’t much that showed up Monday night.
Fortunately, we’re a fan base that is used to bumps, bruises, and butt kickings. And thankfully, the Browns are coming into town next weekend.
So there’s that. Let’s bring the noise so we can get to 1-1.