Ben­gals present im­me­di­ate chal­lenge

Divi­sion foe brings plenty of fire­power to sea­son-open­ing show­down in NFC North

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS -

Ter­rell Suggs has a firm grasp of what con­sti­tutes a good time. Open­ing the sea­son against the Cincin­nati Ben­gals on Sun­day at 1 p.m. at Paul Brown Sta­dium in Cincin­nati does not qual­ify as one.

“It is never fun to start with a team like the Ben­gals with all those weapons,” the Ravens out­side line­backer said Wed­nes­day. “When you start with a team that is good like that, that is ex­plo­sive like that, it is go­ing to be hard for teams to match that week to week.

“It is good while you are healthy, and it is the first one out, that you get to play a team that has a lot of fire­power. We are look­ing for­ward to it.”

Suggs’ trep­i­da­tion is war­ranted. Although the Ravens and Ben­gals are dead­locked at 21 wins apiece in their an­nual se­ries, Cincin­nati has won six of the last seven and seven of the last nine games.

The Ravens’ trou­bles against their AFC North ri­vals have not es­caped the play­ers, who have far too of­ten been on the wrong end of those re­sults.

“They’re a divi­sion op­po­nent, and they’ve played us tough,” right guard Mar­shal Yanda said. “They’ve played bet­ter foot­ball than us there, and we haven’t done the things we need to do to win. We were talk­ing about it, and in 2011, we ran the ball well. I don’t think we gave up any big plays, stuff like that.

“[Quar­ter­back] Joe [Flacco] played well, too. Just play­ing win­ning foot­ball on all three phases, not turn­ing the ball over, penal­ties on the road is an­other big one — just all those fac­tors.”

There does not seem to be one com­mon thread in the team’s losses to the Ben­gals. On the one hand, the Ravens rushed for less than 100 yards in five losses. On the flip­side, the of­fense did not reach the cen­tury mark in its last two wins and ran for 206 and 107 yards on Dec. 30, 2012, and Oct. 26, 2014, re­spec­tively, but those to­tals still did not lead to suc­cess.

Sim­i­larly, the de­fense sur­ren­dered at least 350 yards in five losses. But Cincin­nati per­se­vered on189 and 292 yards on Dec. 30, 2012, and Jan. 3, 2016, re­spec­tively, and the Ravens won on Nov. 10, 2013, and Nov. 27, 2016, de­spite giv­ing up 364 and 325 yards, re­spec­tively.

And then there are the strug­gles that Flacco has had against the Ben­gals. He has been in­ter­cepted 21 times (10 more than any other op­po­nent) and thrown just 16 touch­down passes in 17 ca­reer games against Cincin­nati. He also has been sacked 35 times, which is the sec­ond-high­est to­tal against any other team.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing that Paul Brown Sta­dium “is a tough place to play,” Flacco will rely on a sim­ple for­mula for Sun­day. Sea­son opener Sun­day, 1 p.m. TV: Chs. 13, 9 Ra­dio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.