Losing a game to a division rival never comes at a good time. However, the Baltimore Ravens lopsided 41-17 loss to AFC North Division rival Cincinnati Bengals will give Baltimore something to stew over as they get a break during the bye week.
For starters, at 5-2 the Ravens still find themselves among the top teams in the AFC joining the Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders and Bengals as the teams with the best records in the conference. The Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers are right behind Baltimore with 4-2 records each.
The Ravens are still in a good spot— there is no need to panic. “We played our worst game of the season— worst game in a long time— [and the] Bengals played very well. They were very prepared [and] played a great game. So, it’s week-to-week,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday, October 25, 2021.
When the Ravens return from the bye week, they’ll have games against the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears before three straight games against AFC North opponents. They’ll have a home and road game against the Cleveland Browns surrounding a clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers followed by the Green Bay Packers before a rematch with the Bengals.
Through seven games, quarterback Lamar Jackson has shown flashes of the playmaking ability that made him an MVP in 2019. He posted his best game as a passer two weeks ago and has shown signs of improvement; especially as a pocket passer.
“I see improvement in some areas, and we’re trying to continue that improvement,” Ravens QB coach James Urban said. “Not to discount some of the schemes that we’ve put in; I just think it’s a natural progression. He’s in Year Four in this league, and that’s the progression you need to make. Like I said before, if we’re not changing our game, then people are catching up to us or you’re not getting any better. So, that was an area of his game that we wanted to get improved upon, and that’s what he’s done.”
The Ravens got some positives from rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman against the Bengals. Bateman showcased the big play ability that led the Ravens to select him in the first round of the draft this year. The rookie receiver finished with three receptions for 80 yards, an average of 26.7 yards per catch. He is finally healthy after dealing with a groin injury that required surgery that sidelined him for the entire preseason and first five games.
“It definitely feels good to be back on the field— back healthy. [I’m] being able to play comfortable; shout out to the coaches and my players for helping me out [and] leading me through the week as it goes. It’s definitely fun to be back out there playing with the team,” Bateman said.
The bye week should give offensive coordinator Greg Roman some time to look at ways to get Bateman involved in the offense. Finding an option in the passing game should help Baltimore’s offense continue to evolve down the stretch.