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Loss to Baltimore wasn’t shocking as a result of Bengals are in rebuilding course of – The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Sunday was an exposition of a team in rebuild mode versus a team with Super Bowl aspirations. The Baltimore Ravens are the superior club at this juncture. While the Cincinnati Bengals are in the midst of attempting to build a winning culture.

“We’re building a culture here. We’re moving in the right direction. (Sunday) obviously wasn’t great, but we’re going to look back on this day in a few years and say, ‘Wow, that kind of propelled us forward.’ We’re going to keep working hard,” Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said. “We’ve got great people within the organization, on the team and a great coaching staff. We’re going to keep working hard and keep coming to work every day to win games.”

Baltimore scored points on its first three possessions and didn’t looked back in the 27-3 victory over the Bengals. Sunday’s game was never in doubt.

The Week 5 tilt was hyped up as the first of what figures to be many matchups between Burrow and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. It was just the second time in NFL history a reigning Heisman Trophy winner went up against a reigning NFL MVP, via Elias Sports Bureau. Yet, the story was Baltimore’s defense forcing Burrow to play like a rookie and the offense succumbing to the Ravens’ pressure.

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Burrow had one interception and a lost fumble. The rookie quarterback’s 63.3% completion percentage was his worst thus far and his 183 passing yards on Sunday was also a season low. Baltimore snapped Burrow’s streak of three-consecutive games of 300 passing yards.

The Bengals offense had 205 yards of total offense, their lowest mark of the season. Although, it wasn’t all on Burrow. The entire offense did an abysmal job playing against the blitz. Burrow held on to the football too long at times, the offense was mystified at where the blitz was coming from on occasion and sometimes blockers just lost their one-on-one matchups.

Burrow was sacked seven times, hit 15 and pressured 20 times by the Ravens defense.

“There was some times where we had some errors, and it wasn’t just on linemen. There were some free runners there that everyone needs to do their job. There were times where we had tight ends in protection, backs in protection, we have to make sure we are all dialed in,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “There are sometimes where there is going to be a free hitter that we have to be aware of as well. It takes all of us.”

The Bengals’ offensive inefficiency was the main reason why Sunday’s game was never a competitive battle. Cincinnati was 3 of 16 on third downs and turned the ball over three times.

On the other side of the football, the defense did an admirable job on Jackson and the Ravens’ offense. Baltimore produced 332 yards of total offense. It was Baltimore’s second lowest offensive output of the season.  

“I thought the defense did a lot of really good things,” Taylor said. “They did a lot of good things we can build off of. If they play like that again, we can win a lot of football games.”

Yet, the Bengals rarely play complementary football. Cincinnati’s offense, defense and special teams seldom perform well at the same time, which is typical of a team in the process of growing and learning how to play winning football.

The 1-3-1 Bengals are a work in progress. Predictably, they find themselves looking up at the entire division. The defending AFC North champion Ravens are at the level the Bengals aspire to be.

“I am still very confident in this team. I feel like we made great progress these last couple of weeks,” Taylor said. “We are not going to hit the panic button, it is just one game. We know that we are going to refocus, and this is not indicative of what we want to put on tape.”

Taylor’s right. There’s no reason to hit the panic button. This season is about advancement from a nightmarish 2-14 campaign. The Bengals are slowly but surely making some headway, but they are not on the same tier as a Super Bowl or bust Ravens squad. 

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