Quarterback Lamar Jackson shook off an ankle injury and led the Ravens to a 34-20 victory Thursday over the Cincinnati Bengals, who lost quarterback Joe Burrow to a wrist injury in the crucial AFC North clash.
Baltimore suffered its own significant loss, though: Star tight end Mark Andrews suffered a “very serious,” ankle injury on the opening drive of the game, according to coach John Harbaugh, and will likely miss the rest of the season. The injury occurred on a hip-drop tackle, which the NFL is considering banning, delivered by linebacker Logan Wilson.
Jackson, meanwhile, finished 16-for-26 for 264 yards and two touchdowns, but his availability seemed in doubt after Wilson brought him down by the ankle late in the first quarter. Jackson walked off the field and was examined in the team’s medical tent for several minutes but returned for the team’s next drive.
Jackson’s arm was pivotal in a decisive second quarter. He threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who caught a fortuitous deflection over the middle of the field before racing to the end zone, and a 10-yard score to wide receiver Rashod Bateman to give the Ravens (8-3) a 21-10 lead just before halftime.
By that point, Burrow’s night was over. He appeared to injure his right (throwing) wrist on a hit by outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney one play before his 4-yard pass to running back Joe Mixon gave the Bengals (5-5) a 10-7 lead with 5:49 remaining in the second quarter. He finished 11-for-17 for 101 yards and a touchdown. Led by backup Jake Browning, the Bengals scored just one field goal until they got a touchdown with 1:08 left in the game.
The Ravens completed their first sweep over Cincinnati since 2020 and extended their divisional lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns to a game. Those teams will meet Sunday in Cleveland.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. led the Ravens with four catches for 116 yards, while wide receiver Zay Flowers added 43 yards. After a slow start, the Ravens’ running game finished with 31 carries for 157 yards.
The Browns and Bengals have guaranteed about $450 million combined to Deshaun Watson and Joe Burrow, respectively. The Ravens, clearly, do not respect those investments.
Over the past two weeks, their defense has ended Watson’s season, handing him a significant shoulder injury in a deflating collapse, and knocked Burrow out with a wrist injury, tilting Thursday’s AFC North showdown in their favor.
For the past two years, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson have heard all about how they can’t be trusted in the postseason because of their injury woes at quarterback. Now it’s the rest of the AFC North that’s wondering about their playoff prospects. There’s some luck involved in that, but the Ravens have played a physical game. And the AFC North’s passers have paid a toll.
— Jonas Shaffer, Ravens reporter
An ugly blowout — for the team that won
For a blowout, this one wasn’t pretty. But it was a win. It’s wild how they put up 34 points and a two-touchdown lead, yet I still have plenty of questions heading into next week.
The brightest spot was that the Ravens found rhythm on offense. But there were stretches of questionable decisions and failed execution, as well as some concerning injuries. However, Lamar Jackson was impressive, even limited by an early injury. The defense, which until Sunday seemed solid, got beat too many times for comfort against a backup quarterback. In particular, it yielded the middle of the field where it was once so strong. Maybe the win gives the Ravens confidence and energy, but it wasn’t the type of performance that makes you think “Super Bowl LVII” as the win over the Seattle Seahawks did.
— Giana Han, Ravens reporter
These guys need a break
Once we learned that Joe Burrow had to leave the game and Lamar Jackson could play, though, that was essentially the omen that settled things, allowing the Ravens to plow through their AFC North rival for a season sweep. But, zeroing in on the health of the team, you have to be concerned. Mark Andrews went out early. Jackson was limping. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a late shoulder injury. Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith were targeted on defense, and they looked labored and slower than usual.
With the injuries the Ravens had coming into the game, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of the edge has come off lately. The blowout win over the Seahawks feels so long ago, in one sense. The Ravens have some needed opportunities to get healthy with a long layover before their road game against the Chargers, followed immediately by a bye week. There might not be a contender that needs a break more than Baltimore.
— Kyle Goon, columnist
Ravens limping into the stretch run
Few things are more reliably associated with the coming of winter than the proliferation of Ravens injuries. Baltimore came into its prime-time matchup down starting offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Thursday night’s game saw Andrews go down with what appears to be a serious ankle injury and Jackson play through ankle pain of his own.
Still, the Ravens were less hampered by injury than the Bengals, who lost Joe Burrow in the second quarter. Baltimore will benefit tremendously from its bye in Week 13, but in the meantime it needs to continue to weather the storm as it did Thursday night.
— Paul Mancano, audience engagement editor
A comfortable win that answered few big questions
You’re just never going to be allowed to feel completely comfortable about this team.
I’m sorry. But, also: That’s probably OK. Football is that mercurial. It’s better to stay vigilant. Too much hope can be dangerous.
The Ravens had little trouble beating Cincinnati. But of course the Bengals lost Joe Burrow at the end of the first half. So this game does nothing to tell us whether Baltimore has found its fourth-quarter mettle. It just did what it should have done against a broken offense.
Lamar Jackson again looked elite and, given the loss of Mark Andrews early, this was perhaps his most promising passing game. Andrews has always been even more than his constant fallback option; his reads were so often based on how Andrews was defended in the first place. So to seamlessly transition to spreading the ball around against a defense that no longer had to worry about a unique tight end shows real command of the scheme.
But … concern over Andrews’ injury will linger. And Lamar himself now has an ankle injury to deal with. He stayed down more often than anyone wanted to see. Odell Beckham Jr. left late with a shoulder injury.
It’s getting grimy. The Ravens keep finding a way, but the degree of difficulty feels like it keeps going up and up.
— Chris Korman, editor