It's now money time for the Ravens
Many starters on the Ravens' defense sat for long stretches of the 23-17 loss in Cincinnati Sunday. But several still played and really turned in good efforts -- a big reason the Bengals couldn't do much on offense.]
The Bengals couldn't do much on offense as the Ravens outgained them on offense, 352-189, in total yardage. Some of the younger Ravens' starters who've been working on developing throughout the season turned in strong performances.
Linebackers Josh Bynes and Dannell Ellerbe both played well. Bynes led the Ravens with nine tackles while Ellerbe was all over the field and finished with six tackles -- second on the team -- and two of those were for losses.
He constantly broke through the Bengals' line to blow up plays and helped the Ravens replace Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain. Injuries have crushed the Ravens at linebacker for the last two months.
Paul Kruger continued his late-season roll. He added another sack to his total and, much like Ellerbe, kept finding his way into the middle of plays. The Bengals couldn't seem to find a way to stop either Ellerbe or Kruger.
Kruger's really caught fire in the second half of the season. He's posted 7 1/2 sacks in the last eight games, including this sack against the Bengals. The Ravens were hoping for this kind of effort from him, especially since Terrell Suggs missed a large part of the season and they needed someone to be a solid pass rusher.
Kruger's really seemed to be developing into someone who's putting good pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. The question now for him and the other younger guys is if they can keep all of this up when the playoffs began next weekend.