Two teams reeling from Sunday losses at home will try to regroup and claim a key AFC North win when the division-leading Baltimore Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night.
The Ravens (7-3) blew a golden opportunity to put more distance between themselves and the Steelers, Browns and Bengals, losing leads of 17-3 and 31-17 at home to Cleveland in a 33-31 loss. The setback snapped a four-game win streak.
Cincinnati (5-4) also had a four-game win streak snapped when they fought back from a 27-17 hole in the final three minutes, only to watch rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud lead Houston down the field for a game-winning field goal.
“We live, we grow, we get better. Every team is tested, and we’re getting tested. So I’m excited for (Thursday),” said Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, who enters Thursday just one touchdown shy of matching Todd Heap for the team’s all-time mark of 41.
The game against Cincinnati marks the end of a three-game homestand for Baltimore while Cincinnati is in a stretch of four games where Thursday is the only road contest.
Baltimore claimed a 27-24 victory at Cincinnati in Week 2.
Zay Flowers needs just one catch for 51 on the season, which would break a tie with Torrey Smith for the all-time Ravens rookie record. On defense, Ravens safety Geno Stone leads the NFL with six interceptions.
The Bengals’ defense is looking for a better effort after surrendering 17 plays of at least 20 yards in Sunday’s loss to Houston.
Both teams are also dealing with a multitude of injuries heading into a game on only three days of rest.
Ravens starting right tackle Morgan Moses (shoulder) has missed two straight games while Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey (ankle), starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) and linebacker Trenton Simpson (concussion) left Sunday’s loss to the Browns and did not return.
“I think we’re dealing with it right now. We’ve done a good job of that,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of the injury woes. “We’ve been on the road (a lot). We’ve (played) very tough teams in very physical games, and I feel like our guys have handled it very well.
“We have to continue to do it. That’s probably the main point right now: It’s how we handle that and how we approach it. Our job is to handle it better than our opponents do.”
The Bengals lost star edge rusher Trey Hendrickson to a hyperextended left knee when Houston receiver Noah Brown rolled into him on the play before the game-winning field goal.
Hendrickson is expected to miss Thursday’s game, while Hendrickson’s bookend, edge Sam Hubbard, is dealing with a right ankle injury and missed last Sunday’s loss.
Rookie receiver Andrei Iosivas suffered a knee injury but finished the game Sunday against Houston.
The Bengals also missed the services of star receiver Tee Higgins, who is nursing a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 8 in practice. He also sat out last Sunday’s game vs. Houston.
“You’ve got to cram a whole game plan into really about two and a half days,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “And so the team’s got to understand that. We walked off the field Sunday, it was a Wednesday afternoon, post-practice is really the point of the week you’re at. And so, you’ve got to get your bodies right after a physical long game like we had.
“Baltimore had the same thing. I mean, it really similar styles of games that were just played. And our guys have to get themselves ready and our coaches have to do a good job preparing them in a short span this week.”
–Field Level Media
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