BALTIMORE (AP) — This was probably Baltimore's biggest win of the season so far — and its most costly.
After defeating Cincinnati — the two-time defending champion in the AFC North — on Thursday night, Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced tight end Mark Andrews is likely to miss the rest of the season because of an ankle injury. Baltimore remained atop the division and completed a series sweep of the last-place Bengals, but now the Ravens face the reality of being without one of their most consistent offensive performers.
“Devastating. I don’t even know the right words to describe it,” defensive tackle Justin Madubuike said. “Mark is a great teammate that everybody loves, the players, the coaching staff and the fans. For him to go down, that’s tough. I knew he was hurting a little bit when he stayed down that long. Mark is one of the toughest guys around, so we’ll be praying for him.”
Andrews was hurt on the first drive of the game, but Baltimore ultimately benefitted from a significant injury on the Cincinnati side. Star quarterback Joe Burrow left in the second quarter with a wrist problem, and the Ravens went on to win 34-20.
That puts the Bengals 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Ravens. Baltimore (8-3) rebounded from a last-second home loss to Cleveland and kept its division lead.
“They just got ready to play a really important division game on Thursday night at home and they do it and they work, and they just play hard," Harbaugh said. “They care about each other, and they want to do it for each other. That’s what a team is all about."
After a slow start, the Baltimore running game began rolling and finished with 157 yards on 31 attempts — 5.1 yards per carry. Gus Edwards scored two touchdowns, bringing his season total to 10. Only Miami's Raheem Mostert has run for more.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson ran for 54 yards on nine carries and shifty rookie Keaton Mitchell had 33 on eight attempts.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The tight end position has been important in Baltimore's offense for a while, and now Andrews leaves a big hole there. Isaiah Likely had 36 catches last season as a rookie but has only nine this season. He'll be on the spot now, and so will Charlie Kolar, who made his first catch of the season Thursday.
“Mark is like a big brother in my eyes, so everything I do, I try to talk to Mark about it,” Likely said. “Whether it’s running plays, blocking, passing plays, I try to do the same thing to my guy on my side. We’re just like that for each other. So seeing him go down, seeing the news on him, ruined my night.”
Odell Beckham Jr. caught four passes for 116 yards, his first 100-yard receiving game in the regular season since 2019. Beckham's improved production was a welcome development for the Ravens after Andrews' injury.
“You say next man up, it’s not just the next player in that position, it’s all the men, it’s all the players stepping up and filling that,” Harbaugh said. “To replace a player like Mark Andrews, it’s going to take everybody. It’s going to take a team to do it, and our guys will be up for the challenge and up for the task. But those receivers are obviously going to be a big part of that.”
Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin committed a pass interference penalty that cost the Ravens 34 yards in the third quarter and led to a Cincinnati field goal. With Marlon Humphrey (calf) out, Ya-Sin still played only 19 defensive snaps. Cornerback Ronald Darby, on the other hand, played 31.
The Ravens were without Humphrey and left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) in this game. Jackson played through some ankle trouble, and Beckham had a shoulder issue. Baltimore now has a 23-day stretch with only one game, which should help the team deal with these injuries.
44 — The number of sacks this season by the Ravens, the most through 11 games in franchise history. Nobody else in the league has more than 31.
After a short week to prepare for Cincinnati, the Ravens don't play again until another prime-time matchup Nov. 26 on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers. Baltimore's open date comes immediately after that.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL