The Cincinnati Bengals’ 50th anniversary season may be their longest yet if Sunday’s performance in the season opener is indicative of what’s to come.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton’s threw three interceptions in the first half and lost a fumble on a sack on the team’s first drive of the second half as Baltimore cruised to a 20-0 victory at Paul Brown Stadium. Dalton finished with four interceptions.
“It’s as disappointing as it could be,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been … it’s a disappointing football game.”
In addition to the five turnovers, the Bengals gave up five sacks and committed nine penalties.
After falling behind 17-0, the Bengals appeared to get a jolt from linebacker Nick Vigil when he intercepted Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco on the second play of the third quarter to give the Bengals the ball at the Ravens 26.
But six plays later with Cincinnati at the Baltimore 6, Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs blew past left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and hit Dalton as he prepared to throw. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce fell on the ball, and the Ravens offense began a back-breaking, 18-play drive that took 9:38 off the clock and ended with Justin Tucker’s second field goal of the game for a 20-point edge.
Dalton finished 16 of 31 for 170 yards and a 28.4 passer rating, the second lowest of his career. The four interceptions equal his career high, set on Dec. 29, 2013, in a 34-17 loss at Baltimore.
“We didn’t make any plays. It starts with me. It’s my fault,” Dalton said. “I didn’t play well at all and didn’t give us a chance to win.”
Dalton’s first two interceptions didn’t lead to Baltimore points, but both thwarted Bengals drives in Ravens territory.
The first was at the Baltimore 27 when Dalton had A.J. Green wide open but didn’t put enough air under the ball and Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor got his left hand on it, tipping it to cornerback Brandon Carr.
On the next drive, Dalton was 4 of 4 for 55 yards and had the Bengals at the Baltimore 9 with a chance to tie the game or take the lead. But Dalton threw into double coverage in the end zone, and Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley picked it.
The Cincinnati defense responded with back-to-back three and outs after the first two interceptions, but Baltimore built a 10-0 lead on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Jeremy Maclin with 1:52 left before halftime. Two plays later, Dalton’s threw his third interception when the ball was batted at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Terrell Suggs and plucked out of the air by cornerback Lardarius Webb at the Cincinnati 3.
Terrance West scored on the next play, giving the Ravens two touchdowns in a 24-second span and a 17-0 halftime lead.
After the 18-play drive that made it 20-0, Baltimore began milking the clock, and Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis essentially waived the white flag when he elected to punt from midfield with 10 minutes remaining.
The Bengals will not have much time to straighten things out with a Thursday night home game looming against the Houston Texans.
“We don’t have a chance to pout about it,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to get ready to go.”