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Ravens take down Bengals as Joe Burrow's exit makes big impact

Baltimore beat Cincinnati on Thursday night, but the outcome was overshadowed by injuries to Burrow and Ravens TE Mark Andrews.



Ravens take down Bengals as Joe Burrow's exit makes big impact
Ravens take down Bengals as Joe Burrow's exit makes big impact
BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens hosted the Cincinnati Bengals on "Thursday Night Football" in a key AFC North battle.

Unfortunately, the Ravens lost tight end Mark Andrews to an ankle injury on their first drive and the Bengals lost quarterback Joe Burrow to a wrist injury after a second-quarter touchdown pass. Neither returned.

Baltimore scored three first-half touchdowns and pulled away in the second half for a 34-20 victory. The Bengals drop to 5-5 and remain last in the AFC North. The Ravens sit atop the division at 8-3.

Battling through a left ankle injury and without two Pro Bowl teammates on offense, Jackson threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns. At 8-3, the Ravens now will hold a half-game lead over the winner of Sunday's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, both of whom are 6-3.

It was a night of perseverance for Jackson, who injured his ankle at the end of the first quarter and had a pronounced limp at times. Baltimore needed Jackson because the offense was without left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who was inactive because of a knee injury, and tight end Mark Andrews, who was ruled out after injuring his left ankle on the opening series.

This was a bounce-back game for the Ravens. After a fourth-quarter collapse against the Browns on Sunday, Baltimore was able to put away the Bengals for its first season sweep of Cincinnati since 2020.

Promising trend: Baltimore continues to play its best against the best. The Ravens improved to 4-1 this season against teams that entered the game with a winning record, which is a good sign for them going forward. Entering Week 11, Baltimore had the toughest remaining schedule, according to ESPN Analytics. The Ravens' remaining six games come against teams that are a combined 31-23 (.574), including matchups in December with current division leaders Jacksonville, San Francisco and Miami.

Eye-popping stat: How unlikely was wide receiver Nelson Agholor's 37-yard touchdown late in the first half? The TD probability was 3.7%, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. A surprised Agholor had a pass deflected by Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt land in his hands at the 29-yard line and outran the Cincinnati defense the rest of the way. He capped his third touchdown of the season with a forward flip into the end zone.

Silver lining: In a season filled with injuries, the Ravens might have suffered their most significant one when Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews was ruled out after the opening drive with a likely season-ending ankle injury. Without Andrews, Jackson relied more on his outside targets. In the first half, Jackson threw touchdown passes to wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Rashod Bateman. This marked the first time he produced multiple touchdown passes to wide receivers since Week 2 of last season. Jackson had a career-high 206 yards passing when targeting wide receivers.

Next game: at Los Angeles Chargers (8:15 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 26)

Coming into Thursday night's game at M&T Bank Stadium, the result was going to be the biggest thing that impacted Cincinnati's chances of winning the AFC North. But when Burrow doubled over in the second quarter because of a right wrist injury, that immediately changed.

With Burrow knocked out of the game, winning the division isn't the question going forward for the Bengals. It's about just getting into the playoffs for the third straight season.

Since 2021, Cincinnati has felt confident in its ability to be a postseason contender as long as Burrow is on the field. When he jogged off in the second quarter after he couldn't throw the ball on the sideline, it immediately thrust the rest of the season into uncertainty.

Backup Jake Browning, who won the job in training camp, will be tasked with leading the charge if Burrow is out for an extended period. Since 2020, the Bengals are 2-5 when anyone other than Burrow has been the starting quarterback. With him, Cincinnati is 29-21-1. For the Bengals to make the playoffs, they will have to do something they haven't done since Burrow was drafted with the first overall pick in 2020: be successful without him.

Describe the game in two words: Punishing night. In a game the Bengals needed to win to maintain hopes of winning the AFC North, that became a secondary storyline after Burrow left the game and CB Cam Taylor-Britt also exited because of a quadriceps injury.

Buy a breakout performance: Tight end Tanner Hudson has become the team's most effective receiving option at the position. In his first four games of the season, he had 14 catches for 126 yards. When Burrow was in the game, he leaned on Hudson for a big 21-yard completion on third down. It's the type of play and trust that shows Hudson warrants a bigger role moving forward.

Troubling trend: Cincinnati entered the game 31st in defensive yards allowed per play. The Bengals continued to give up large chunks against Baltimore. In the first half alone, the Ravens had six plays of 14 yards or more, including a 37-yard touchdown by Agholor after a missed tackle. That will remain a source of frustration for defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo.

Next game: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 26)