Five Thoughts After Playoff Loss to Bengals

The Ravens’ 2022 season closed with a bitter pill to swallow in a wild-card playoff loss in Cincinnati.

In a game that not many pundits felt the Ravens had a chance to win, they outplayed the Bengals in almost every way, but a few mistakes and one glaring turn of events left the Ravens with a 24-17 defeat.

Here are five thoughts on the game:

The Ravens were good enough, which makes it sting even more.

Without Lamar Jackson, the Ravens were heavy underdogs, at least according to the outside world. Inside the locker room, the Ravens still felt like they could beat their AFC North rivals, and they were right.

The Ravens could have won. At least some Ravens felt they should have won. Roquan Smith said the Ravens were “for sure” the better team on this night.

“But not always the best team wins,” he said. “Those guys ended up making a play or two more than we did. They get to advance, we don’t.”

With backup Tyler Huntley under center, Baltimore’s offense outgained Cincinnati’s high-flying unit in yardage by a lot – 364-264. The Ravens controlled the clock with a strong running game and hit some big plays in the passing game.

Baltimore’s defense cut out the Bengals’ big plays and landed some haymakers. They held Joe Burrow to just 209 passing yards and gave up just 17 points to Cincy’s powerful offense.

Overall, Baltimore made Cincinnati play on its terms – a knock-down, drag-out fight. But backed up against the ropes, the Bengals landed a wild, and somewhat lucky, uppercut on the Ravens’ chin and dropped them to the mat for a knockout blow.

What’s going to sting this offseason is, once again, the feeling of being good enough but falling short. Last year, Jackson’s injury sunk the Ravens’ playoff hopes. This year they made it, and were still good enough to perhaps advance, but it didn’t work out.

Emotionally, it would have been easier to get blown out, as the pundits predicted. That could be chalked up to not having Jackson. But this was a game the Ravens had in their grip, and it slipped through their fingers. The “what ifs” are the most painful.

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