In the week leading up to the game, Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase was making the NFL "look easy."
That didn't change Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Cincinnati's young star exploded for eight catches for 201 yards in his first game at M&T Bank Stadium.
"We wanted to do better against him. Obviously, our plans did not work, and he made it look easy today as well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Baltimore's defense became the latest to fall victim to a big play from the fifth-overall pick, as Chase slipped through a couple of tackles and raced 82 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, giving Cincinnati a 10-point lead that kicked off the 41-17 rout.
The toughest part for the Ravens is that he beat their best cornerback, Humphrey. After the game, the Ravens' All-Pro shouldered the loss.
"Going into this week, the biggest assignment was on me to kind of stop their top guy, and I lost that matchup," Humphrey said. "So, a lot of it, kind of, is on me. I've just got to play better, especially when the gameplan is for me to have a big day. The coaches put the trust in me to kind of lead the defense, lead the gameplan, [and] I've just got to execute better."
On another Bengals touchdown drive, Chase caught two slants for a combined 38 yards. Another pass over the short middle went for 26 yards. Every one of Chase's catches was categorized as "short" but turned into medium-to-long gains against a defense that again struggled with tackling and allowed too many yards after catch.
"Humphrey did a great job of not letting me go over the top of him," Chase said. "We just started going to back-shoulders, stop routes, slants, quick pitches and stuff like that. After the catches come the [yards after catch], breaking the tackle, making guys miss, and heading to the end zone."
Chase recorded the sixth-most receiving yards by an opponent in Ravens history and the most since Antonio Brown's 213 in 2017.
One of the other players on that list is A.J. Green, the former Bengals receiver and high draft pick – just like Chase. Green posted 227 receiving yards in 2015 in one of several huge days against the Ravens, earning him the "Ravens Killer" nickname. Is Chase next?
Near the end of the game, Chase said Humphrey had some words for him.
"He was just like, 'Good job. Keep working.' I was like, 'Same thing to you,' and we just kept playing," Chase said.
Asked what makes Chase so hard to cover, Humphrey said he would have to consult the film. Humphrey had some good moments, including a fourth-quarter end zone interception (his first of the season) on a pass intended for Chase, but it wasn't enough.
"As [Defensive Coordinator] Wink [Martindale] says, it's not as bad as it seems; but right now, it seems pretty bad," Humphrey said. "So, I'll look at the film and kind of figure it out."
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had a bounce-back showing in Baltimore. Last year, the rookie was sacked seven times and fumbled twice in his first game at M&T Bank Stadium. Burrow didn't get a second shot at Baltimore last year because of a season-ending knee injury.
This time, Burrow threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns. The Ravens got early pressure and hits on him, but Burrow adjusted and was sacked just once.
"One of the things I was most upset about last year was not getting a chance against our division a second time," Burrow said. "If I get multiple chances against a team, I'm going to play a lot better the second time."
Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah scored two long touchdowns, the first from 55 yards out when he shook off Humphrey in man-to-man coverage. The second was a blown play for the Ravens defense in which multiple defenders bit on a fake screen and left Uzomah wide open in the secondary.
Overall, it continues a troubling trend for the Ravens defense so far this season. Baltimore shut down the Chargers' Justin Herbert last week, but Burrow became the third quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards against the Ravens so far this season.