The Baltimore Ravens took on the Cincinnati Bengals in their final bout of the 2016 regular season.
However, it wasn’t such a happy occasion for the Ravens (8-8) and their retiring wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. Baltimore would lose the game, which was steadily in the Bengals’ (6-9-1) control.
Smith Sr. finished with 34 yards and three catches on the day.
From the outset of the game, Baltimore was beaten upfront in the trenches. Cincinnati’s offensive line plowed Baltimore’s defensive line back the entire game. This was very evident in how well the Bengals ran the ball. Bengals running back Rex Burkhead only had one career touchdown coming into today’s game, but it didn’t deter him from carrying the ball for 27 times, rushing for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
He scored on a five yard touchdown run in the first quarter to give the Bengals an early lead. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had one of his better days as well, completing his first 10 passes. Dalton threw his touchdown to tight end C.J. Uzomah. Dalton would finish the day with 226 passing yards.
As for the Ravens’ offense, they just couldn’t get off on the right foot. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco went 32 of 49 for 267 yards and an interception. He was constantly pressured and couldn’t escape from the blistering pressure that the Bengals mustered against him. Flacco was sacked 3 times on the day. In addition, the Ravens just couldn’t run the ball well, only gaining 72 yards rushing between running backs Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West and wide receiver Michael Campanaro.
It was a horrid day for the entire team to say the least and they will have to take a long look at the coaching staff, as well as the players during the offseason.
“We’re going to have to live with this season until we get together for training camp,” said Flacco after the game. “Leaving it out there and coming up short (last week) was tough. You want to go out there and fight. You can’t use last week’s game as an excuse.”
Flacco would continue:
We didn’t play our best football. That’s disappointing. Win or lose there’s always that emotional roller coaster. We expected to come here and play well.
Despite Flacco not wanting to make an excuse for the way that the team played, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh offered a very similar explanation for the performance of his team.
“I’m never happy with any losing result,” said Harbaugh. “On an emotional level, the team wasn’t where it had been in the past. It has to do a lot with what happened last week.”
Harbaugh sang his praises about the retiring Smith Sr. and how he brought an edge to the team that was valuable.
“He’s been here for 16 years and continues to play at a high level every game,” said Harbaugh. “He showed our guys how to compete and how to play the game.”
On one positive note for Baltimore, Flacco finished with the Ravens’ single-season record in passing yards (4,317), beating out Vinny Testaverde (4,177) in the franchise’s inaugural season.
Now the Ravens must look into the long void that is the NFL offseason and make the team better. Maybe it starts with addition by subtraction in the coaching or is it making better personnel decisions? Those questions will be answered over the course of the next six months before the Ravens go to training camp.