It was an abrupt end to the 2022-23 season for the Baltimore Ravens, as their postseason fate ended at the hands of divisional rival Cincinnati Bengals. Without Lamar Jackson on the field, beating the reigning AFC champions on the road was going to be a tall task and one that the Ravens fell just short of accomplishing.
The game was much closer than many anticipated, as QB tyler huntley did just enough to help lead a competent offense down the field when they needed it the most. Having stepped in for Jackson on multiple occasions so far this season, Huntley actually produced a fairly-good game, but only producing a fairly-good game was not going to do it against the Bengals.
The following three members of the Ravens are the most at fault for their Wild Card defeat, which started the clock on a franchise-defining offseason with the pending free-agent courting of Jackson.
Saying that the entire pass-catching unit is at fault for their loss may be seen as a cop-out, but it has been the biggest shortcoming for the offense as a whole this entire season. Even when Rashod Bateman was healthy, this unit was still average at best, and their lack of talent was on full display against the Bengals.
Outside of Mark Andrews (5 receptions and 73 yards, 10 targets), most pass-catching options struggled mightily.
The WR group (Demarcus Robinson, Sammy Watkins) combined for 3 catches and 61 yards, salvaged with a TD from Robinson. Josh Oliver (2/26) was a surprisingly active participant in the passing game but did not have a big impact, and J.K. Dobbins (4/43/1), Gus Edwards (1/13), Justice Hill (2/10), and Patrick Ricard (2 targets) all helped out from the RB room.
Look, Huntley was already backed into a wall by having Jackson out, but the Wild Card matchup was his sixth consecutive start of the year, so this was not something new for him. However, Huntley still struggled most of the night, although it was one of his more accurate games.
17/29 for 226 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT is a pretty average line, but that passing yardage total and completion percentage are both fairly impressive compared to how the season has gone so far for Huntley. Regardless, these numbers are all average or worse, and the Ravens had to have above-average from Huntley.
Baltimore could not realistically go another route for the postseason, as Anthony Brown and Brett Hundley both were not going to get the job done. As Huntley was the best option they had, his playoff performance left a lot to be desired, even if his shortcomings were not fully his fault.
For a team to make the postseason, the team’s coaching staff has got to be ready for anything. In Baltimore’s case, the game plan and ensuing defeat showed that the staff never created a successful game plan for Huntley, and that falls on John Harbaugh.
Harbaugh and recently-fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman never seemed to alter the offensive game plan to the strengths of Huntley, and that stubbornness was a huge part of why the offense struggled all game. While they did lead in most offensive categories over the Bengals (total yards, time of possession, yards per play), this offense still was a struggle.
The lack of consistency and decisiveness from Huntley and the entirety of the offense stems directly from Harbaugh and his offensive staff, so a lot of blame for their postseason loss should fall on his shoulders. With Roman heading out the door, there could be more changes incoming for the Ravens, which could include needing a new QB if Jackson departs.