An ankle injury to starting right tackle Patrick Mekari was part of a difficult Sunday for Baltimore's offense.
Mekari limped off the field under his own power with 9:20 left in the second quarter, but went directly to the medical tent and then to the locker room. He had been playing extremely well since Week 2, taking over at right tackle for Alejandro Villanueva, who is now the starting left tackle in place of injured All-Pro Ronnie Stanley.
Head Coach John Harbaugh did not have an injury update on Mekari after the game, but the Ravens have plenty to evaluate after Sunday's 41-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It was a convincing win for the Bengals, who shut down Baltimore's running game and pressured Lamar Jackson relentlessly with five sacks and seven quarterback hits.
Cincinnati dominated the second half after leading 13-10 at halftime, as the Bengals' defense won in the trenches. This is what the Bengals had in mind during the offseason when they acquired defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (six tackles, 1.5 sacks) and defensive end Trey Hendrickson (one sack). Ogunjobi set up shop in Baltimore's backfield, tackling ballcarriers for losses or forcing them toward teammates, who corralled them before they could turn upfield. Once Baltimore's offense became one-dimensional, the offensive line could not stave off Cincinnati's pass rush and the Bengals punished Jackson.
Harbaugh was asked after Sunday's game if he was concerned about the rushing attack that has been Baltimore's offensive staple over the last three seasons.
"It's important to get a lot going with the running game," Harbaugh said. "It's a big part of what we do, and we need to do that more consistently."
If not for Jackson (12 carries, 88 yards), Baltimore's rushing attack would have been almost non-existent Sunday. Running backs Devonta Freeman, Ty'Son Williams and Le'Veon Bell were bottled up for a combined 29 yards on 11 carries. The Ravens clearly miss the talents of injured running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards and their ability to bounce outside or make yards after contact, but Baltimore needs more production from its backs.
Meanwhile, the offensive line didn't provide the backs with much running room to work with Sunday. Tyre Phillips, who began the season as the starting left guard, replaced Mekari at right tackle. Phillips suffered a knee injury in Week 1 that landed him on injured reserve before he was activated Oct. 16.
The upcoming bye week gives the Ravens more time to solve their issues. But whether or not Mekari returns to the lineup in Week 9, the offensive line needs to perform better, and the entire offense knows it needs to play better.
"We just need to make more plays and be more efficient," tight end Mark Andrews said. "Give credit to the Bengals – they played a great game. We've just got to be better as a team. The season is far from done."