Early-season defeats are all about finding silver linings and moral victories, however, and there are some reasons for optimism in the Who Dey Nation following Monday’s 44-13 loss in Baltimore. Here are three:
Andrew Hawkins, a second-year receiver from Toledo, posted career highs in catches (8) and yards (86), while looking like the kind of offensive x-factor Cincinnati thought it had in Peter Warrick and briefly had in Chris Perry (pre-injuries).
Four of Hawkins’ eight catches resulted in first downs for Cincinnati. He had four catches on the Bengals’ back-to-back scoring drives that brought the team within four points of the Ravens early in the second half. The young slot man finished the night one Ray Lewis fingertip away from a 100-yard receiving performance against one of the league’s top defensive units.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis didn’t see much preseason action but was very impressive in tonight’s contest showing great vision and burst through holes and surprising power on his touchdown carry. “The Lawfirm” averaged 5.1 yards per carry, rushing 18 times for 91 yards. That single-game average was matched just twice by Cedric Benson over the course of the last two seasons.
Defensively, Geno Atkins was an absolute stud. The Bengals’ 2011 sacks leader picked up right where he left off with two sacks in the season opener. Joe Flacco put up ridiculous numbers tonight, completing a number of throws off his back foot. Wonder why he was fading back so much? Atkins had much to do with it. Not every quarterback will be so accurate this year with the pocket collapsing right at their feet.
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