Bengals seek another big road win at Baltimore

CINCINNATI -- The last time the Cincinnati Bengals played in Baltimore, they stunned the Ravens by handing them a 24-point loss, but coach Zac Taylor isn’t sure if that will lead to a different approach for the opponent when the two teams meet Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Cincinnati swept the Ravens last year, winning 41-17 on the road and 41-21 at home.

Taylor said he doesn’t think the feeling after a big loss is much different than a defeat by a three-point margin. He does expect a tough matchup, whether it’s in response to last year’s results or not.

“We’ve been in this ourselves, so I’m just going to speak about our team,” Taylor said. “The next day it burns you a little bit. Then you quickly move on. That’s life in this league. You can look around at every team and all the teams that lost say, ‘Man, if we would have done this one thing we would have won.’ That helps you put it behind you. Every team deals with it. We have to focus on ourselves. The other thing is when you win, you have to remember what your gut felt like that Monday in the team meeting room after a loss. … It’s easy when you win to put that deodorant over all the flaws you had and the corrections you’ve still got to make.”

The Bengals (2-2) are coming off back-to-back wins, including a 27-15 victory against the Dolphins on Thursday, and they are back in the mix in the AFC North after their 0-2 start. All three division opponents lost games over the weekend, and Cincinnati now is tied for first with the Browns and Ravens, who dropped a 23-20 loss to the Bills on Sunday.

Taylor said he was watching the scoreboard on his phone at his son’s flag football game during that 30-minute window when Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh all finished their games in beneficial fashion for the Bengals.

Last year, the Bengals were 4-2 going into Baltimore but that dominant AFC North win served as reaffirmation they were heading in the right direction.

“Well, we hadn’t done that since I’ve been here,” Taylor said. “Anytime you go on a road environment, particularly in the division to pull out a win, it’s good for that to sink into your team. It says to you that ‘You’ve done it and you can go do it. Let’s do it again.’ I know we hadn’t fared well there two or three years ago. The score was close (in 2020), but it didn’t feel close. The next year was the blow out and last year was better, so I think it’s important to go on the road in this division and pull out wins. Those are significant and that’s what we have to go do this week.”

Baltimore has the third-best scoring offense in the league right now and the team ranks tied for second in turnover margin at plus-5. Lamar Jackson has thrown for 893 yards and 11 touchdowns with four interceptions, while also running for 316 yards and two scores.

Justice Hill is the leading rusher out of the backfield with 125 yards on 19 carries, and tight end Mark Andrews has the ability to cause a lot of problems as Jackson’s top target. Andrews has 260 yards receiving and three touchdowns on 24 catches.

Linebacker Patrick Queen has seven quarterback hits, 1.5 sacks and 24 tackles. Safety Marcus Williams has three interceptions already, plus four passes defensed, a fumble recovery and 31 tackles. Outside linebacker Justin Houston has two sacks.

The Ravens have played two of the same opponents as the Bengals, including opening with a 24-9 win over the Jets before falling to the Dolphins 42-38 in Week 2. Cincinnati’s two wins came against those opponents.

Asked if this game could be a big swing for the division, Taylor said it’s still early but all division games are important. Two weeks ago he was reminding fans and media not to worry about an 0-2 start.

“It’s a long year,” Taylor said. “The season has a way of balancing out if you’re a good team and you can play good situational football. Things have a chance to balance out. We don’t overreact to small increments of the season. We may face some adversity again at some point this year. We know that we’re built to overcome it. We just got to put our best foot forward, start fast in these games, play turnover free football, win the turnover battle and play disciplined. We know we have the talent to keep ourselves in a good position as the season goes forward.”

SUNDAY’S GAME

Bengals at Ravens, 8;20 p.m., NBC, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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