CINCINNATI – The Ravens' 2016 season has come to an end following the team's dissapoiting 27-10 loss to the Bengals in Week 17.
Here are the Five instant observations after the Bengals dominated the Ravens:
1. The Ravens (8-8) looked hung over, not from New Year’s Eve, but from their loss in Pittsburgh.
Being eliminated from playoff contention against the Steelers last week seemed to deflate the Ravens. Their defense gave up points on every Bengals first half possession. The Bengals took a 20-3 lead into the third quarter and never looked back.
2. Some tough offseason questions await the Ravens.
Will Marty Mornhinweg return as offensive coordinator? Can the Ravens find more playmakers on offense and defense? John Harbaugh is expected to return as head coach, but an 8-8 season, and missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, puts everyone in the organization under the microscope.
3. This wasn’t the sendoff that wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. had in mind.
I’m sure Smith envisioned a victory, at least one touchdown, and some highlight-reel plays in his last NFL game. The legendary wide receiver capped his career with a 3-catch, 34-yard performance. This won’t change Smith’s brilliant 16-year career in any significant way. But when he sits down to reminiscence about the best moments in his career, this game won’t make the cut.
4. The Bengals remain a pain for the Ravens, especially in Cincinnati.
The Bengals have won six of their last seven against the Ravens, whose last victory at Paul Brown Stadium came in 2011. The Steelers will enter 2017 as the defending champs in the AFC North, but the Bengals remain a puzzle that needs solving for the Ravens.
5. The Ravens are 31-33 during the regular season since winning Super Bowl XLVII four years ago.
The Ravens have just one playoff win during the last four years, and have missed the playoffs three of the last four seasons. As close as the Ravens came to beating the Steelers in Week 16, the big picture suggests the Ravens need a sense of urgency this offseason, to get their franchise back to being a true Super Bowl contender.
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