This was originally published in The Athletic.
The free fall continued Sunday, this time with the most frustrating Bengals loss of the season, a there-for-the-taking 24-21 L in Baltimore that combined encouraging developments with maddening shortcomings.
The Bengals did some good things, they had bad things happen to them. They stayed in the game, until they gave it away. Control of AFC’s underwhelming race for the final playoff spot was within their grasp, until it, like the season itself, started slipping away.
Ravens 24, Bengals 21.
This game was most winnable of the four losses across their last five games, and this defeat the most mystifying. The Bengals lost to the Steelers. Fine, we’re all used to that happening. They were steamrolled by the Chiefs, then again by the Saints. Whatever. Those teams are better.
The Ravens might be better. Or maybe they’re not. Baltimore has a formidable defense, and its typical staid offense. The Ravens started a rookie quarterback who had more than twice as many rushing attempts as passes completed. Lamar Jackson is electric. The rest of John Harbaugh’s skill guys are anonymous. The Ravens are OK at times, inept at others. They’re contenders, but not really. Basically, swap out orange for purple, and they’re the Bengals. Decent. OK. Not terribly exciting.
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