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3 things we learned about the Ravens

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BALTIMORE — Wide receiver Steve Smith tied a Baltimore Ravens’ franchise record with 13 receptions for 186 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

But that was little consolation for the veteran receiver who plans to retire after this season.

“It’s wins and losses,” Smith said. “That’s what we consume ourselves with and we lost. We have to put our tissues away and go out and practice.”

The 3-0 Bengals have already put themselves in solid position for the postseason as 75 percent of teams that start the season perfect in the first three weeks have made the playoffs from 1990-2014.

On the other hand, the Baltimore lost its distinction as the only existing NFL franchise that has never started 0-3.

The undefeated Bengals have won four straight against the Ravens and sit atop the AFC North.

“We didn’t do anything to make them uncomfortable,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. Flacco completed 32 of 49 passes for 362 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

“Obviously, a tough loss, very disappointing,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, “We had the lead twice in the fourth quarter and couldn’t hold onto it. It’s happened too much lately.”

Trailing 14-0 in the third quarter, the Ravens found life when Flacco found Smith for a 50-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-5. After forcing the Bengals to punt, the Ravens cut the margin to 14-10 on a 21-yard field goal by Justin Tucker with 13:27 left in the game.

Baltimore’s defense then came up with a huge play. After linebacker Elvis Dumervil stripped Dalton, fellow linebacker C.J. Mosley picked up the loose ball and ran 41 yards for the score with 6:49 left.

But the Bengals stormed back with two late touchdowns to win.

What we learned about the Ravens:

1. The Ravens’ revamped secondary struggled and could not maintain a fourth quarter lead again. The group’s latest performance will have coach John Harbaugh struggling to find answers this week. It is third straight game where the Ravens gave up the game-winning score in the fourth quarter. This is a huge area of concern because the Ravens spent the offseason trying to revamp the unit after it was plagued with injuries last year. Safeties Will Hill III and Rashaan Melvin were hit with pass interference penalties in the first half that led to both of the Bengals’ touchdowns. Things continued to get worse as safety Kendrick Lewis, a key off-season signing, had to leave the game for a possible concussion and was replaced by Terrence Brooks. Baltimore allowed Bengals receiver A.J. Green to catch an 80-yard and a 7-yard touchdown in the final 6:37 that was the difference in the game. “One of these days maybe we’ll figure out how to stop A.J. Green,” Harbaugh said. The Ravens’ top corner, Jimmy Smith, also gave up a 47-yard pass to Green. However, Smith recovered by intercepting a pass in the end zone later that drive. It was one of their few bright spots on another disappointing day. “With this defense, we’re supposed to get off the field,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “We haven’t been getting off the field this whole year.”

2. Quarterback Joe Flacco has been inconsistent in all three games this season. Each time, though, Flacco has still managed to keep his team in position to win. Against the Bengals, Flacco, who is in his ninth year as a starter, had a key interception in the second quarter that led to a Bengals’ touchdown. His 20 turnovers against Cincinnati are the most he has against any other team. Flacco has played under four offensive coordinators in as many years, so he has been hurt by the lack of continuity. He has also been hampered by not having a true downfield threat with first-round pick Breshad Perriman still out with a knee injury. Even if Perriman returns, it might be too late for Flacco to pull his team out of the imposing hole of being 0-3. “Right now, it probably comes down to the fact that we’re not believing in ourselves,” Flacco said. “We’re not envisioning winning those football games. We’ve got to turn that around and make sure we can do that.”

3. The Ravens’ running game was grounded again. Starter Justin Forsett managed just 13 yards on 10 carries against the Bengals. Overall, Baltimore managed just 36 yards on the ground. This has not only put them in long yardage situations, it also keeps their struggling defense on the field. Much of the problem is Baltimore has been forced to play from behind for much of the season. The offensive line also hasn’t provided big enough holes for the running backs to break off long runs. The running game is another area the Ravens will have to solve to have any chance of getting back into the playoff race. “We have to turn it around,” Forsett said. “We have to put it all together. Everything has to click.”

Etc.

–LT Eugene Monroe (concussion) did not play after missing the entire week of practice. Undrafted James Hurst, a second-year player, got his seventh career start in place of Monroe. Hurst had a false start penalty on the Ravens’ second drive, but was effective in keeping the Bengals without a sack.

–D Chris Canty (calf) was held out after leaving the game against the Raiders in Week 2. Canty didn’t practice all week. Canty didn’t practice all week after getting hurt against the Raiders. Lawrence Guy took his spot and finished with seven tackles.

–RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) was able play against the Bengals. He had returned to practice earlier in the week on a limited basis. Taliaferro did not gain a yard on three carries, backing up starter Justin Forsett. The Ravens entire running game struggled.

–CB Rashaan Melvin active for first time this season Sunday against the Bengals. The Ravens’ secondary struggled the past game against Oakland and Melvin was added for depth. He opened the game as the third corner and had a holding penalty on the Bengals’ first drive. He also was hit with a pass interference penalty.

–LB Jason Babin was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Babin was signed for depth after former All-Pro Terrell Suggs went down with a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 1 against Denver.

–S Will Hill III made up for a costly pass interference penalty with his first career sack early in the second quarter. It was also the first time Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked this season.

–WR Breshad Perriman, a first-round pick who has been out since the first day of training camp with a knee injury, might have suffered a setback during warmups prior to the game against the Bengals. Perriman was running under a deep throw by wide receivers coach Bobby Engram and pulled up in the end zone. He then bent over in apparent pain. Perriman was able to walk back to the sideline and caught a few more balls, but he did not continue running any more routes. Perriman was drafted to serve as the team’s primary downfield threat. The Ravens did not provide an update on his status.

–Kendrick Lewis, a key off-season signing, had to leave the game for a possible concussion. He was replaced by Terrence Brooks. Lewis had just one tackle, while Brooks finished with two. Ravens coach John Harbaugh did not update Lewis’ status after the game.


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