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Key observations from the Ravens' Week 2 loss to the Bengals

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Key observations from the Ravens' Week 2 loss to the Bengals

The Ravens headed to Cincinnati on a short week for a division matchup that was almost a primetime comeback. 

Coming off a 47-3 blowout over the Buffalo Bills, Joe Flacco and the Ravens struggled against an unstoppable Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. 

Here are the key observations from Thursday's 34-23 loss.

Defense suffered without C.J. Mosley

Linebacker C.J. Mosley was carted to the locker room in the first with what was eventually diagnosed as a bone bruise, and as soon as Mosley departed, the Bengals went on a run, scoring four touchdowns in four drives. 

How long the Ravens will be without their signal caller is unknown. 

The typical recovery time for a bone bruise is 3-6 weeks depending on the severity and location of the injury. What we do know, however, is the Ravens' defense needs to fully prepare to step up in his place. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor took over the reigns of play caller and then safety Eric Weddle during the second half.

However, several players admitted postgame that there was a lot of confusion on the field after Mosley's departure.

We were kind of just scrambling around when [Mosley] went out,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “Some guys didn’t even know he was out. It’s kind of in-between. I really couldn’t tell you.

The absence of a veteran of Mosley's caliber will certainly have its effects, but there are more than enough guys to take over that role. Eric Weddle, Terrell Suggs, Tony Jefferson and even Tavon Young, who had two sacks against the Bills last Sunday, have more than enough experience to handle the responsibility. Luckily, the Ravens have ten days to prepare for the Bronco's defense. 

Flacco's first two performances vastly different

During Week 1 against the Bills, Joe Flacco came out in horrible weather conditions and put up a 121.7 rating en route to hitting all three wideouts for touchdowns. Fast forward to Week 2 and a different Flacco appeared.

On the verge of a comeback and down by a touchdown, Flacco's pass was knocked out from behind for a turnover and was the icing on top of an up and down night for the QB. He finished the night 32-55 for 376 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Several sloppy throws were mixed in with 21-yard, right on the money shot to John Brown for a touchdown late in the fourth.

While Flacco and the offense rallied from a 21-point deficit, the magic they needed to get the job done wasn't there, something they've experienced in the past. The QB has lost more games there than anywhere else in the NFL and has 13 more interceptions against Cincinnati than any other team, per ESPN's Jamison Hensley

An extended period of rest for an offensive line that didn't give Flacco any additional help in his quest for a comeback will be beneficial ahead of Week 3. It will also be interesting to see which version of Flacco takes the field. 

Looking ahead

The Ravens host the Broncos Sunday, Sept. 22 before hitting the road for three games. A win at home will be vital for their long-term success.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley exited the game in the fourth quarter, and postgame would not disclose what the injury was. He did say, however, that he would be "fine." If that is true, the attention will remain focused on Mosley and how much time they expect the three-time Pro Bowler to miss. 

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Ravens preparing for ‘raucous’ atmosphere in Kansas City on Sunday

Ravens preparing for ‘raucous’ atmosphere in Kansas City on Sunday

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens offense will be able to see Lamar Jackson just fine this Sunday. They just won’t be able to hear him. 

As the Ravens head to Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest venues in the NFL, they'll have to adjust some of their offensive calls when facing the Chiefs defense — and their crowd.

“It gets loud there, for sure, so we’ve been working on various cadences starting, really, in the spring,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “And there’ll be a lot of visual communication going on. We’ll mix in some cadence, but we’ll probably use a lot of what we call ‘silent count’. There are a lot of various cadences we have in the silent count, and we’ve been working them for a while.”

The Ravens have some experience playing in front of a crowd commonly known as among the most hostile in sports. They played in Kansas City last season in Week 14, falling in overtime.

“We know it’s going to be louder, so we’re just going to have to bring our volume up,” center Matt Skura said. “Just making sure everyone is on the same page. Whether that’s in the huddle, leaving the huddle or up at the line of scrimmage, if anyone has any doubt, just ask. As long as we’re on the same page, it’ll be good. Nothing really too much changes."

It won’t be the first time the Ravens venture into a hostile crowd this season, as they’ll head to Seattle on Oct. 20 this season. 

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda both stressed the importance of being on the same page as an offensive unit, with communication expected to be limited. 

The important part, however, is making sure nothing changes too much offensively. 

“K.C. is a big stadium, and every seat will be full,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They’re raucous. They do a great job with that, and our offense, especially, is going to have to be on-point with that. So, yes, that’s going to be important. We’re working hard on it; we have been. I really feel like we’ll be good with it, but [there is] nothing like the real thing.”

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A view from the other side: A Q&A with a Kansas City Chiefs columnist

A view from the other side: A Q&A with a Kansas City Chiefs columnist

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ahead of the Ravens and Chiefs game this Sunday, NBC Sports Washington reached out to Sam Mellinger, a columnist for The Kansas City Star. 

Here’s what Mellinger and the Chiefs are saying about this week’s game between two 2-0 opponents in a rematch of last year’s thrilling 27-24 overtime finish. 

Note: Mellinger’s answers were over email.

Q: The Ravens have mentioned that last year's wild overtime finish has been somewhat of a learning experience for them. Have the Chiefs said the same? Or is there no carryover from year-to-year?

A: That game has been talked about a lot here. It's still Patrick Mahomes' only game under 26 points in regulation. There are a dozen different moments that had to go the Chiefs' way to win that one, even beyond the 4th and 9 that everyone talks about. The carryover is probably less of a thing for the defense than offense, just because that side of the ball has been almost completely overhauled.

Q: Lamar Jackson has been one of the league's most impressive quarterbacks so far this season — what have the Chiefs and their coaches said about his progression from year 1 to year 2? 

A: The Chiefs are always complimentary of their opponents. They could play the Dolphins this year and Andy Reid would talk about being excited for the challenge of playing a good football team with good players and good coaches. That's just how they go. But we all have b.s. detecters, right? And the talk is more sincere this week. Jackson and the Ravens do a lot of things well that match up against what the Chiefs don't do well. Jackson is a problem for everyone, but particularly for the Chiefs. Their improved speed at linebacker and rookie safety Juan Thornhill will be especially tested this weekend.

Q: There's been a lot made of Mahomes' progression in his second year, has that been discussed by the Chiefs in what to expect from Jackson this week?

A: The connection with Mahomes hasn't come up specifically, unless I've missed something, but yeah they've talked about Jackson looking more comfortable and advanced this year than last, which I believe was just his fourth start.

Q: In terms of defending the run and pass from Jackson, what have the Chiefs stressed as difficulties in defending both? What are the keys to that? 

A: They don't reveal a lot beyond cliches, but basically the Chiefs are going to need to set the edge, stay disciplined, and perhaps even put one of their faster linebackers or even a safety as a spy against Jackson. The Chiefs have been pretty terrible defending the run for some time now. The Ravens could have a lot of success there.

Q: The Ravens have one of the better secondaries in the NFL, how do you see the matchup between all of the Chiefs weapons and the Ravens secondary playing out?

A: The Chiefs have enough weapons and the right quarterback and a scheme that once allowed Alex Smith to lead the league in passer rating, so the stock answer is that this offense is too much of a problem for any secondary. But the answer this week is a little different, I think, because the Chiefs won't have Tyreek Hill and the Ravens signed Earl Thomas. That matters. A lot. Thomas is a Hall of Famer still relatively close to his peak, and his ability as a sort of center fielder — both his range and mind — could cut the top off some of what the Chiefs want to do. The combination of Mahomes' arm strength and Hill's speed often stretches defenses past the point of recognition, but that part of the game will be in closer balance now.

Q: What's a particular matchup (position or individual) that you're interested in seeing on Sunday?

A: I think we all tend to think of these things through the lens of the team we follow the closest, but the two that come first to mind are Cam Irving and Juan Thornhill. Irving will start at left tackle for the injured Eric Fisher. Irving is a representative lineman — they're not pushing a practice squad guy out there — but he got trucked in the run game last week against the Raiders. The Ravens are tough and physical and disguise their blitzes really well, so that could be a particular problem for a Chiefs team without their starting left tackle and (likely) at least one of their two top running backs.

Thornhill is sort of the Chiefs' version of what we were just talking about with Earl Thomas. Thornhill is obviously not in Thomas' class, I'm not saying that, but he's a similar profile: center fielder type of a safety with length and athleticism. Hollywood Brown with more comfort from Jackson in the pass game will stretch the field more than the last time these teams played. The Chiefs' corners are inconsistent, and can be had. Thornhill will be relied upon.

Q: If you had to put a prediction on the game, what would that be?

A: I did picks before the season, and this is one of three games I had the Chiefs losing. I'll stick with that. The Ravens look like the best team the Chiefs will play this season other than the Patriots, and like I mentioned before, a lot of the things they do well are particular problems for the Chiefs. I know the line is close to a touchdown, and I guess I can understand why, but I'm expecting this to be a really hard game for the Chiefs. The Ravens beat Mahomes up last year more than anyone else has been able to, and now the Chiefs are down a lineman and short on running backs for pass protection. No outcome would be surprising other than a blowout either way, but I think the Ravens can get this one.