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Five Takeaways From the Bengals' Blowout Win Over the Ravens

Cincinnati swept Baltimore for the first time since 2015.

The Bengals beat the Ravens 41-21 on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. 

Cincinnati hadn't swept Baltimore since 2015. This was not an average sweep, however, because the Bengals absolutely demolished the Ravens in both games. They outscored Baltimore 82 to 38. This was a butt-kicking of epic proportions and after what the Ravens did to the Bengals over the past few years, it feels cathartic. 

Week 16’s 41-21 demolition was led by one of the strongest offensive performances of the season. The Bengals lead the AFC North with a 9-6 record.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

The Best Game of Joe Burrow’s NFL Career

I remember recently being asked if the game against the San Francisco 49ers was Joe Burrow’s best performance so far. I had to pause and think about all of the games that he had played up to that point and I came to the conclusion that there were three or four games that could be "Burrow's best." 

Now there is a definitive answer. The best game of Burrow’s NFL career [so far] was Sunday's obliteration of the Baltimore Ravens.

Burrow passed for 525 yards, which is the most in Bengals' history and the fourth most in NFL history. This was a historical performance by the second-year quarterback.

Not only was the volume of Burrow’s game amazing, but also he was efficient. Pro Football Focus gave him an 88.6% adjusted completion percentage on the day. That's good for the second-best performance by that metric all season. 

According to Ben Baldwin’s Expected Points Added metric, Burrow had the best performance since the metric was created in the 2010s with an EPA of 35.1. He also boasted a 13.1 completion percentage over expectation which is another elite number in that metric. All in all, Burrow’s torching of the Ravens will be remembered for years to come.

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Don’t Forget About The Wide Receivers

When the quarterback throws for over 500 yards, the wide receivers are bound to have a great day themselves and that's exactly what happened on Sunday. 

Tee Higgins had the best day of the trio, finishing with 12 catches, 194 yards, and two touchdowns. This was a career day for him in terms of yardage and receptions. His day was highlighted by his catch late in the first half where he soared over two defenders to come down with a 52-yard reception. It’s not the first time he has done that this season, but his ability to come down with those receptions has elevated him from a good receiver into a great one.

Ja’Marr Chase had the next best day for the Bengals with seven receptions for 125 yards. It seems like the Bengals are finding even more ways to use the young wideout. His run after catch ability was on full display. They put him on drag routes and let him catch the ball and run in space. Out of the 125 receiving yards that he accumulated, 75 of them were after the catch.

Finally, Tyler Boyd also had a very nice performance on Sunday. He had three catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. His day was highlighted with an out-n-up from the slot against a linebacker in coverage. The defender was left searching for Boyd while he easily scored on a 68 yard touchdown pass from Burrow

These three wide receivers are all special in their own way and make up one of the best receiving trios in the National Football League.

Trey Hendrickson’s Sack Records

Trey Hendrickson now has 14 sacks on the year, which is a Bengals' single season record. He has been everything Cincinnati could have ever hoped for when they signed him in free agency. 

Hendrickson has had at least a half sack in 11 games in a row and in 13 of the Bengals' 15 games this season. The record for most games in a row with a half sack is 12 set by Jevon Kearse in 2000. Hendrickson could tie that record next week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Overcoming Pressure

One of the main takeaways this season has been if Burrow is protected, then the Bengals win the game. In this game, Burrow was not protected that well. Cincinnati gave up 26 pressures and three sacks, which is not a very good performance from the offensive line. 

However, Burrow and the Bengals' offense were able to overcome this issue with a historic performance. The second-year signal-caller improved to 2-14-1 when sacked three or more times in a game. 

Wink Martindale’s ability to generate pressure with anyone on his defensive front is something that people miss when they want to discredit Burrow’s performance. According to Pro Football Focus’ numbers against the blitz, Burrow went 14-of-16 for 193 yards and one touchdown. His ability to quickly process against the blitz has neutered the Ravens defense in both games this season.

Related: Joe Burrow Weighs in on Late Game Passing Against the Ravens

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Playoffs? Playoffs!

The Bengals now control their own destiny to make the playoffs, but they need to win at least one more game. They face off against the AFC leading Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17. It's a battle between two of the most exciting teams in the league. If they cannot win that game, then it is onto Cleveland where they will try to defeat the Browns. The Bengals are a better team than the Browns, but Cleveland seems to have their number. 

The Browns have won the past three matchups against the Bengals, including a 41-16 win at Paul Brown Stadium in Week 9. There is a way for the Bengals to make the playoffs while losing their next two games, but it requires a lot of external forces and teams to lose to pretty shabby opponents. They need to win one more game so that they can secure their spot in the postseason.

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