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Three Down Look: Bengals Roll Ravens 41-21, Take Control of AFC North

Joe Burrow and the rest of the passing attack had a record-breaking Sunday.

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals seized a huge opportunity on Sunday as their foundational stars led them to a 41-21 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Joe Burrow played another spectacular game, and the defense held strong against Josh Johnson and the Ravens' quick passing game. Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Ja'Marr Chase showed why this Bengals' offense is one of the league's scariest when firing on all cylinders.

Here's our Three Down Look at a massive victory at Paul Brown Stadium.

Burrow Marks The Bulletin Board

Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale poked the bear this week, and Burrow ripped his defense to shreds on 37-of-46 passing for 525 yards, and four touchdowns. The single-game yardage total surpassed Boomer Esiason (490 passing yards) for the most in Bengals' history. All in all, it was the most yards of his storied football career. He passed for 493 yards in the College Football Playoff at LSU and 501 yards against Logan Elm High School for the Athens Bulldogs.

It was a clinical performance in a moment that this city hasn't felt in years. He accounted for 35 EPA on the day, ranking in the 100th percentile of Ben Baldwin's database. The total goes down as the fourth most single-game passing yards in NFL history.

The Bengals got production from all over, and Burrow trusted his weapons to make big plays. Tee Higgins (12 catches, 194 yards, two touchdowns) tied for the 13th-most single-game receiving yards in team history, while Ja'Marr Chase (seven catches, 125 yards) kept justifying his Pro Bowl nod. Tyler Boyd (three catches, 85 yards, one touchdown) wasn't far behind with a play that may change the course of the season.

Joe Mixon (six catches, season-high 70 yards, one touchdown) had his most active receiving game of the season. He's also just one score behind Carl Pickens (17) for the Bengals' most touchdowns from scrimmage in one season. None of it would be possible without Burrow.

The offensive line still struggled (three sacks allowed, five quarterback hits), but you'd never know from the score. Burrow is navigating pressure and controlling the offense like so many of the greats he was compared to leading up to last year's NFL Draft. The Ravens were clearly beat up, and there was no excuse for a loss, but Cincinnati didn't squeak by this opportunity.

They took full control of it—and their destiny in the process.

Andrews Carries The Tight End Torch

The Bengals' defense bent a few times on Sunday but made sure Burrow and the offense stayed in the spotlight. Baltimore was down two quarterbacks, but Josh Johnson (28-of-40 passing for 304 yards and two touchdowns) found some creases in the short passing game thanks to another great tight end lined up against Cincinnati.

Mark Andrews (eight catches, 125 yards, one touchdown) owned the middle of the field on Sunday. Yet, Cincinnati was happy to give up a few slow-developing drives to avoid the big-play ability from Marquise Brown.

Johnson is impressively playing his best football this season, posting the only 300-yard, multi-touchdown games of his 12-year career in 2021. He followed the game plan soundly, but it was always going to take a miracle on the other side of the ball to bring a win back to Baltimore.

We can't talk about the defense without mentioning another Bengals record that fell on Sunday. Trey Hendrickson (two tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble) set the Bengals' single-season sack record with his 14th of the year. He came into the day tied for fifth league-wide in sacks.

The defense broke through with a Vonn Bell interception late in the game to help ice the victory. They are finding the football well at the most important time of the year. Lou Anarumo's unit has forced a turnover in five of the past six games.

Stop And Smell The Roses

The Bengals are 9-6 and in control of the AFC North just one year after Burrow began rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee. Things haven't been smooth or necessarily consistent but the seeds of a special decade are starting to sprout.

I was as bullish on Burrow as anyone. Being in and around Athens, Ohio for four years will make you a believer. But who could've predicted a game like this less than 30 games into his career?

No matter what happens the rest of this season, Cincinnati is in a rare position of having the most cap space of any team in 2022—while leading their division with two games to play. FiveThirtyEight gives them a 98% chance to win the AFC North with a win in Week 17 or Week 18.

They make head-scratching mistakes from time to time and have flip-flopped on aggressive decisions. Sunday, Zac Taylor kept his foot on the gas pedal with the latter. All while giving his quarterback keys to the race car on a joyride to the top of the AFC North.

For more on Sunday's win, watch the video below. 

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