The Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback change didn’t yield a different result, but there was little rookie Ryan Finley could have done to outshine Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson.
Behind an almost perfect day for Jackson, the Ravens quickly built up a big lead on a struggling Bengals defense, and Cincinnati fell 49-13 to the AFC North leaders on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
A 39-yard field goal by Randy Bullock with less than three minutes left was the only thing saving Cincinnati (0-9) from its worst loss in franchise history. The largest margin of defeat is 37 points, which has been done four times, including a loss to New Orleans last year.
Finley, who was tabbed to replace benched veteran Andy Dalton during the bye week, completed 15 of 29 passes for just 158 yards and one touchdown with one interception returned for a touchdown, but as underwhelming as his performance was, his NFL debut struggles paled in comparison to the Bengals’ defense.
Baltimore scored all of its 49 points in three quarters, and the only drive it didn’t score on to that point was a 23-second possession at the end of the first half. The Ravens scored on their first three possessions as Jackson completed his first 10 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns, before Marcus Peters’ picked off Finley and returned it 89 yards to extend the lead to 28-3 with 3:42 left in the half.
Finley was just settling in when he threw the interception. On the previous drive, he moved the Bengals to the Baltimore 24-yard line before stalling out. Bullock pushed in a 42-yard field goal to get Cincinnati on the board, and Finley bounced back after the pick-6 to lead the Bengals on a scoring drive, capped by a Tyler Eifert 6-yard touchdown reception with 26 seconds left in the second quarter.
Jackson finished with 223 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-17 passing, which marked a franchise record completion percentage of 88.2. He achieved his second perfect passer rating (158.3) of the season and added 65 yards rushing, out-pacing the entire Bengals offense himself with 288 yards before he was replaced by Robert Griffin III in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati had 277 yards at the time Jackson left the game and finished with 307 yards.
Surprisingly, the Bengals out-rushed the Ravens, as Joe Mixon recorded a season-high 114 yards on 30 carries as part of a 157-yard ground attack for the team. Baltimore finished with 136 yards rushing, including 34 yards from Mark Ingram.