Defense Receives Its Flowers After Shutting Down Bengals' Passing Offense
The Ravens' defense entered Week 5 ranked last in the NFL. They heard that all week, on TVs as they ate lunch and in the questions they got from reporters.
But after a strong showing in the Ravens' 19-17 Week 5 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore's defense is now getting its flowers.
Joe Burrow finished with just 217 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception.
NFL.com’s Grant Gordon: "It was also a night in which Baltimore's defense should be lauded; lauded for a huge goal-line stand in the third quarter and holding the Bengals to 17 points and 291 yards on nine possessions Buoyed by big plays from Patrick Queen, Jason Pierre-Paul, Marcus Peters and others, the Ravens defense cut out the chunk gains from the Bengals and made splash plays of their own when they had to. Over the first three weeks of the season, Jackson was carrying Baltimore. That can't always happen and it didn't in this one, but this time around the Ravens were able to lean on defense and special teams to prevail."
Around The NFL’s Gregg Rosenthal: "The Ravens on the other hand though are solving their defensive problems, really since Marcus Peters got healthy and back in the lineup. They've been pretty competent the last few weeks."
The Baltimore Sun’s Ryan McFadden: "The Ravens' defense came out with a purpose, forcing the Bengals to punt on four straight drives while taking advantage of Cincinnati's struggling offensive line. Jason Pierre-Paul had a strong first half, recording a sack and two pass deflections, and Baltimore did a good job containing star wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, who had seven receptions for 50 yards on 12 targets."
Good Morning Football’s Jason McCourty: "Give the Ravens' defense some credit because Marlon Humphrey, all of those guys all week long talked about, 'Hey, they have a ton of weapons over there. We have to slow them down. We have to figure a way to keep it in front of us.' And that is exactly what they did last night. Yes, the Bengals were able to hit on some plays. They were able to come back but they didn't get those big chunk plays that [the Bengals offense] is accustomed to having."
Baltimore Beatdown’s Zach Canter: "The Ravens held the Bengals to just 17 points and under 300 total yards. Even more, they held wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase to 50 yards receiving. Both Peters and Marlon Humphrey locked down Chase for a good portion of the night, constantly tight on coverage and taking away throwing windows. An excellent goal-line stand helped shift momentum, Patrick Queen finally got his interception and Marcus Peters played out of his mind. This was a huge night for the defense, holding a team to under 20 points and getting big stops throughout the game."
Russell Street Report’s Darin McCann: "This was a very good defensive effort against a very good team that the Ravens will be competing against for years. Was it perfect? No. But they generally tackled well, they got decent pressure on passing reps that lasted longer than .7 seconds and they made big plays throughout the game."
Media Praises Tucker After Big-Time Field Goals
For as well as the Ravens defense played overall, they gave up a long Bengals touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. After the Bengals took a one-point lead with 1:58 remaining, all hope rest on the Ravens' offense to get down the field and either get into Justin Tucker's near-unlimited range or find the end zone.
The result was the former, as Tucker trotted onto the field and delivered a game-winning 43-yard field goal to beat the Bengals. Media sung the praises of Tucker following the final field goal.
The game-winning field goal received its well-deserved praise, but many were also in awe of Tucker booming through a 58-yard field goal in the third quarter. They also loved his celebration.
Harbaugh's Fourth-Down Decision Surprises Media
Of course, the Ravens faced another late-game fourth down where the masses debate to either take the points or try and convert and put the game away.
This time, Head Coach John Harbaugh decided to kick the field goal and Tucker hit a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead to six points. Many disagreed with or were surprised by Harbaugh's decision, including NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus.
"John Harbaugh obviously took a ton of heat for his decision [to go for] the touchdown against Buffalo [last week] on fourth down. It didn't work and they lose that game. In this game, bleeding into the game-winning possession, Baltimore's previous possession they marched to essentially the goal line. They were at the 3-yard line. Fourth and about half a yard and in that case, they decide to draw Cincinnati offsides and kick the field goal so I think Harbaugh got it wrong both weeks. I think he should have kicked the field goal in Week 4 and went for the touchdown in Week 5. He doesn't, it ends up not costing him but if it did, it would've been another postgame press conference where Harbaugh's taking a ton of heat but thank God for Justin Tucker."
Strangely, analytics were split on the decision.
Harbaugh said the Ravens legitimately considered going for it. They were lined up on offense but didn't get the look from the Bengals defense that they wanted, so they just took a delay of game penalty.
"If we would've had what we wanted, we could have gone for it, but that was the decision that was made on the field, and it was the right decision," Harbaugh said.
Moreover, Bengals fans are in an uproar after Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor chose to go for it on fourth down instead of kicking the field goal.
It's just nice to not be on that end of the conversation this time …