They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Behind Enemy Lines brings you your weekly recap of the rest of the AFC North, as the Ravens strive to be back on top of the division.
Result: L 16-24 @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This is a game where A.J. Green was expected to feast on a weaker Steelers secondary. The Steelers game planned well and neutralized Green, holding him to only two catches for 38 yards. However, the success the Bengals had was using Gio Bernard in the passing game. This is something Ravens fans should keep an eye on, as the Steelers and Ravens boast similarly structured defenses (strong front-seven, weaker secondary).
The Bengals only managed to convert 4 of 16 3rd down conversions after going only 3-11 last week against the Jets. This seems to be a continuing problem and is something else to keep an eye on.
In a close game in which the Bengals couldn’t generate a run game, they were forced to throw 54 times. This trend is something that the Ravens should monitor moving forward, as it exploits the weaker portion of the Ravens defense.
Luckily, for fantasy football owners playing Antonio Brown last week, the Bengals secondary matches up very nicely against the Steelers’ biggest threat. Brown was held to only 39 yards on four catches.
The Bengals did a great job against a very strong Steelers offense, forcing two interceptions (from starting corners Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick) and holding the Steelers to 374 yards. That number may seem high, but the Steelers put up 437 yards last week and averaged 395.4 last year, so it was a bit below average.
The Bengals struggled to generate a pass rush, which was a problem in Week 1 as well.
Gio Bernard – 5 carries, 17 yards, 9 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD. The lone TD scorer contributed through the air and did his best to cash in on a couple forced turnovers.
Look forward to Week 2:
The Bengals continue a tough start to their 2016, as they will host the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium.
Result: W 24-16 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
It was no easy matchup for the Steelers offense on Sunday. The Bengals boast a very strong defense at all levels and it showed. The Steelers were kept to a 5.3 yards per play average, while relying on a couple big plays to get them into field goal range.
Antonio Brown was held in check, but Sammie Coates was able to work the slot and came up with two big catches, one going for 53 yards and the other going for 44. Coates showed this off in Week 1 as well, pulling off a catch for 42 yards. He is giving the Steelers reason to believe they have a big play guy beside the always dangerous Brown.
The real success for the Steelers was their offensive line. The Bengals only sacked Big Ben once and had five QB hits, while DeAngelo Williams ran 32 times for 94 yards and added 38 yards and a TD receiving. Against a strong defensive line in the Bengals, this is very impressive.
The Steelers showed their ability to game plan for a big threat, holding Green to two catches after he had 12 for 180 yards in Week 1. The Steelers showed a Ravens-esque “Bend but don’t break” defensive style, which seemed to aim towards slowing Green and preventing the run game from finding success. The Bengals were forced to focus on short routes, which led to three FG, but only one TD (sound familiar, Ravens Nation?)
What the Steelers did against Green allowed Tyler Boyd to grab six balls for 78 yards. Given the Steelers underperforming secondary, it can be seen that they’re going to rely on smart game planning towards the opposing team’s biggest weapon. This bodes well for the Ravens come Week 9, as the Ravens can use multiple guys to generate offense.
Ryan Shazier – 11 tackles, 5 solo, 1 TFL. Shazier was all over the field and made it a point to stay in front of the Bengals offense.
Look forward to Week 2:
The Steelers will travel to Philadelphia to take on Carson Wentz and the Eagles. The Eagles boast a weak secondary and it could mean a big week for Roethlisberger and Brown.
Result: L 25-20 vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Browns exploded out of the gate against the Ravens, scoring 20 unanswered points in the 1st quarter alone. However, the quarter break occurred and the Browns returned to being the Browns.
After coming out firing on all cylinders, the Browns offense was unable to muster much against Dean Pees’ Ravens defense from the end of the 1st until the last drive, where a very questionable penalty call for taunting halted the drive and led to an interception by C.J. Mosely on a bizarre play call with 20 seconds left.
For some reason, the Ravens decided to try and pick on Joe Haden, who had a big day against Baltimore, picking off Joe Flacco in the 1st quarter and almost getting a game-altering pick on a deep throw to Breshad Perriman later on.
The defense turned in a strong performance against the run, but Flacco was able to get into enough of a rhythm to move the ball on several drives, which led to 25 unanswered points.
Josh McCown – Hats off to this warrior. He did throw 2 picks, but he basically only had one shoulder. He did his best with what he had, but came up short, much to Ravens fans’ delight.
Look forward to Week 2:
The Browns will travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins. McCown is questionable and we may see the beginning (and likely the end) of the Cody Kessler era in Cleveland.