Instant analysis from Ravens’ 41-21 loss to Cincinnati Bengals

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  • Joe Burrow
    Joe Burrow
    American football quarterback
  • Josh Johnson
    Josh Johnson
    American football quarterback
  • Tee Higgins
    Tee Higgins
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Tyler Boyd
    Tyler Boyd
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Here’s what the Baltimore Sun sports staff had to say immediately after the Ravens’ 41-21 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium:

Jonas Shaffer, reporter: The Ravens (8-7) played most of Sunday’s game with one of the NFL’s worst cornerback groups and a third-string quarterback. The Bengals (9-6) have a former top draft pick at quarterback and one of the league’s best wide receiver groups. Sometimes the game can be that simple. This Ravens season is far from over, but this team has left itself almost no margin for error. Can the Ravens get healthy in time for a must-win game Sunday against the Rams? Their playoff chances could depend on it.

Childs Walker, reporter: The Ravens did not go to Cincinnati with a team capable of keeping pace with the Bengals. This became obvious as soon as Joe Burrow and his gifted trio of wide receivers started eating up the field against a secondary decimated by injuries and illness. We finally reached a game in which no amount of resilience was going to keep the Ravens competitive. Third-string quarterback Josh Johnson did his best, playing with poise and throwing accurately. Mark Andrews was incredible again. James Proche stepped up. But they were not going to score on every possession, which was what Burrow and Co. did against the practice squad call-ups and scrap-heap signings the Ravens trotted out. This was a pivotal game in the battle for the AFC North, and it never felt like a fair fight. The Ravens still have a good chance to make the playoffs if they win their last two games. But they could face a similarly daunting talent deficit next Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

Ryan McFadden, reporter: Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and his trio of receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd took advantage of the Ravens’ depleted secondary. No matter what the Ravens did on defense, they couldn’t stop Burrow for the second straight time. Higgins was on another planet, recording 194 receiving yards while Chase was his usual self. Today makes you wonder what Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp will do to the Ravens’ secondary next week.

C.J. Doon, editor: Once Tyler Huntley was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Ravens fans could see the writing on the wall. As well as third-stringer Josh Johnson played Sunday, he was never going to be able to outduel Joe Burrow and a healthy Bengals receiving corps. When cornerback Anthony Averett was knocked out in the first half, an already depleted Ravens secondary had no chance to hold up against Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Now all the attention turns toward the rest of the AFC. The Ravens need to beat the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers and get help to make the playoffs. It’s going to be an uphill battle, even if Huntley and Lamar Jackson return next week. This defense has reached its breaking point.

Tim Schwartz, editor: The first time the Ravens faced the Bengals in Week 7, they exposed many of Baltimore’s faults on defense — poor tackling, lack of depth and inability to prevent the big play in a 41-17 beat down. And on Sunday, quarterback Joe Burrow did it again and dealt the Ravens and their playoff chances a near-death blow as wide receivers Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd combined for 404 yards and three touchdowns on 22 receptions to make Burrow, who finished with 525 passing yards and four touchdowns, look like an MVP front-runner. As injuries in the secondary racked up week by week, it felt like a matter of time until the dam broke. Cornerbacks Kevon Seymour, who spent most the year on the practice squad, and Daryl Worley, who was signed as a free agent off the street a few days ago, had no chance, and neither did third-string quarterback Josh Johnson. It ain’t over yet, somehow, but Baltimore’s chances look slim.

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