Trickery Sparked Ravens Offense, But Unit Faded


Trying to do anything to get their offense off to a quick start, the Ravens broke out the trickery Sunday against Cincinnati.

Baltimore used a flea-flicker, scored on a decoy play, used more pistol formation and even used backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor on a reverse to get some early momentum.

The problem was, however, that the Ravens didn't do much on offense outside of the trickery.

Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked if loosening the reins on the offense was part of a conscious effort.

"Yes, you have to do that," he said. "It's not that we don't have those plays in for the most part. They're all plays we've practiced before and have been in game plans. You have to cause problems for a defense, and those plays got some yards for us, so it was good."

The Ravens went three-and-out on their first drive. On the first play of their next drive, running back Ray Rice took the handoff and lateraled back to Joe Flacco, who had Jacoby Jones wide open deep.

Flacco's pass was short, but Cincinnati cornerback Reggie Nelson was flagged for pass interference 48 yards down the field. That set the Ravens up at the 5-yard line. Baltimore used more trickery to put the ball in the end zone.

On third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, tight end Dallas Clark acted like a blocker, throwing himself at a defender's legs at the snap. He then popped back up to his feet and got open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.

On Baltimore's first play of the second quarter, Taylor lined up at wide receiver. He swept around behind Flacco and took the handoff 18 yards to the Cincinnati 33.

Outside of the trick plays and Bengals penalties, the Ravens didn't have much of an offensive spark, however. Baltimore posted just 189 yards of total offense.

At one point in the fourth quarter, the Ravens had fewer yards on offense than the Bengals had in penalty yardage. After the Ravens' second touchdown of the game, they notched just 35 yards on their next six drives.

"It was great today to finally get it going early on," guard Marshal Yanda said. "However, we have to keep that momentum going. We stalled out in the third quarter. We need to keep putting it together, keep working and keep grinding."

Ranked last in the league in average yards per carry (2.8), the Ravens still struggled to run the ball. They finished at 2.8 yards per run despite toting the rock 30 times, and it hindered their ability to run out the clock with a 17-point halftime lead.

Rice had 18 carries and put up just 30 yards. Bernard Pierce notched 31 yards on eight rushes.

"That's a good defense over there. Let's put it all in perspective," Rice said. "We should've put them away a lot earlier, but our defense definitely bailed us out."

Left guard A.Q. Shipley said the Bengals ran different blitzes and defensive fronts this week in their first full game without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who tore his ACL last week in Miami.

"We were trying to guess and figure it out as much as anybody," Shipley said. "We were trying to see it on the pictures on the sideline and adjust from there."

Flacco also again didn't have one of his most accurate games. He completed 20 of 36 passes for 140 yards, two touchdowns and tossed two more interceptions. He also lost one fumble.

Flacco's 11 interceptions this season already surpass last year's total, and the most he's ever thrown in a season is 12. He made one poor decision to throw while being sacked, then tried to squeeze a ball into double coverage that was also intercepted.

The wind was a problem throughout the day, however, and affected both quarterbacks.

Flacco said throwing with the wind either made the ball trail right or go totally long. He said throwing into the wind was actually a bit easier if you could keep the ball down, but he couldn't do that on his long flea-flicker pass, which resulted in it coming up short.

Still, Flacco didn't use that as an excuse.

He did make a couple of nice plays on the Ravens' final drive in overtime. Flacco eluded pressure twice on the drive, once to find Rice for a 13-yard pickup on a dump-off, then again to sling an 8-yard pass on the run for a first down to tight end Ed Dickson. "We struggled all day," Flacco said. "You have to give credit to the [Bengals] defense, but we have to do a lot of things better in order to be successful."

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