The last time the Baltimore Ravens saw the Cincinnati Bengals, Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd turned fourth-and-12 into a 49-yard touchdown in the final minute of Week 17, sending the Ravens home for January and upstate New York into a frenzy as Baltimore coughed up the AFC’s final wild-card spot to the Buffalo Bills.
The Ravens get a rematch with the Bengals on Thursday in Cincinnati.
A reporter asking Monday about last year’s game couldn’t even get the whole question out before Ravens coach John Harbaugh interjected, “Thanks for the reminder. I appreciate that.”
Asked if that result provides extra motivation this week, Harbaugh replied, “Probably. How could it not be part of it? ...
“That’s life. It’s human nature. You always want to redeem yourself as best as you can, certainly, but it’s not going to factor into who wins the game.”
After having eight-plus months to stew on the playoff berth that slipped away, the Ravens took out their frustrations on those very Bills in the season opener, romping to a 40-0 lead in less than 35 minutes before settling for a 47-3 victory. It was their second consecutive dominant defensive performance in a season opener, after Terrell Suggs & Co. silenced the Bengals 20-0 in Cincinnati in Week 1 last year.
That result aside, the Bengals have owned the Ravens of late, winning seven of the past nine meetings and five of the past six at Paul Brown Stadium. Wideout A.J. Green has usually led the charge. Before his two-catch, 17-yard effort in the 2017 finale, Green racked up 37 catches for 678 yards and six touchdowns in the previous six meetings.
“I don’t know, man, no clue,” Green said when asked why he shines so bright against Baltimore. “Sometimes that’s the way the cards fall. ... They’re one of the best defenses I go against every year, so it’s always going to be a challenge.”
With top cornerback Jimmy Smith serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy, Green will see more of Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Tavon Young.
On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati must contain a new-look Baltimore offense that featured rookie Lamar Jackson in several packages and had three new wideouts — John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead IV — catch touchdown passes in Week 1.
The Bengals joined the Ravens at 1-0 after fighting off Andrew Luck’s comeback attempt with a late strip, recovery and score by reserve safety Clayton Fejedelem. Cincinnati emerged with a 34-23 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Ravens are 7-1 under Harbaugh in short-week Thursday games, and their Week 1 blowout helped them rest a few veterans. Suggs played just 48 percent (31 of 64) of Sunday’s snaps, while safety Eric Weddle and linebacker C.J. Mosley each played 73 percent (47 snaps).
“You can’t rest too many guys because it’s not like the preseason,” Harbaugh said. “It’s still only 46 guys who are playing, so a couple guys got to sit out early, and that was probably somewhat helpful.”
Baltimore running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) and cornerback Maurice Canady (thigh) missed Tuesday’s practice, while tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) and defensive tackle Willie Henry (hernia) remain out after missing Week 1. No Cincinnati players missed practice Tuesday.
—Field Level Media