CINCINNATI – Lamar Jackson did more than enough to beat the Bengals, even without injured running back J.K. Dobbins.
The Ravens' explosive quarterback threw two touchdown passes and extended drives with his legs as Baltimore outlasted slow-starting Cincinnati 27-24 on Sunday.
The AFC North champion Bengals fell to 0-2 for the second consecutive season, and quarterback Joe Burrow may have aggravated a calf injury that sidelined him for all of training camp.
The Ravens (2-0), their division rival, certainly looked like the better team for most of the game.
Jackson was 24 for 33 for 237 yards. He ran for 54 more, and Gus Edwards — with more chances because of Dobbins' season-ending torn Achilles tendon — picked up 62 yards on 10 carries.
“Lamar played winning football. He got in a rhythm early, hit some passes and made some huge plays throwing the ball down the field," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said.
Burrow, who limped off the field after throwing off his back foot for a short touchdown late in the game, finished 27 for 41 for 222 yards and two TDs after passing for just 86 last week in the season-opening loss to Cleveland.
He said he'd have to see how his calf feels over the next two days before knowing whether it would affect his availability.
“It’s not what we were planning on, not what you want to do at all, but we’ll bounce back,” Burrow said. “That’s what we do. That’s all there is to it.”
Burrow hooked up with Tee Higgins for a 4-yard touchdown on third-and-goal to cut the deficit to three with 3:28 left in the game.
But the Bengals couldn’t stop Jackson and the Ravens’ offense, which moved the chains twice after the ensuing kickoff to run out the clock.
“(In) previous years, we been finishing with our defense on the field, and we haven’t been doing a great job of finishing the last drives,” Jackson said. “Today we did.”
Jackson completed all five passes he threw on a 70-yard opening drive that ate up nearly eight minutes, and Edwards bulled in from 1 yard out to finish it.
The Bengals tied it early in the second quarter on an electrifying 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by rookie Charlie Jones. It was Jones' first NFL score and the first punt returned for a TD by a Cincinnati player since 2012.
The Bengals didn't shake off their lingering offensive malaise until well into the second quarter. They didn't record a first down until more than 10 minutes into the second, and that came on a defensive pass interference penalty.
But the drive stalled at the Ravens 9 when cornerback Rock Ya-Sin knocked away a pass into the end zone intended for Ja'Marr Chase. The Bengals had to settle for 27-yard field goal from Evan McPherson.
In the second half, Burrow engineered a drive that went to the Ravens 17, but he was picked off near the goal line by Geno Stone.
“You can’t have a red-zone turnover against that team -- and that was on me,” Burrow said.
Baltimore's ensuing drive ended with a 3-yard TD pass from Jackson to Mark Andrews and a 20-10 Ravens lead.
The Bengals pulled within 20-17 while putting together their best drive of the season, with Burrow going 8 for 10 and tossing a 3-yard TD pass to Tee Higgins.
Baltimore pushed the lead back to 10 in the fourth quarter when Jackson connected with Nelson Agholor from 17 yards out.
“So that’s the way it goes when you play these guys,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “I just told our team, this is one of those games you store away and you learn from so that you win more games down the road because of what we went through here.”
The teams were playing at Paycor Stadium for the third time in nine months. The Bengals hosted the Ravens for the last game of the 2022 regular season, and then again a week later in the wild-card round of the playoffs. With Jackson sidelined for both games with a knee injury, the Bengals won both.
“Obviously, we’ve had a kind of rough past history here last year and the year before, but I’m proud of the way the guys fought today,” Andrews said. “There was definitely some energy, and it’s a good division win.”
Ravens: WR Odell Beckham Jr. left the game with an ankle injury and did not return.
Bengals: S Nick Scott was evaluated for a concussion in the third quarter and did not return.
Ravens: Host Indianapolis next Sunday.
Bengals: Host the Los Angeles Rams on Monday, Sept. 25.
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