Ravens' offense under Kubiak gets off to slow start in 23-16 loss to division-rival Bengals


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BALTIMORE — Joe Flacco had no problem pinpointing what went wrong with the Baltimore Ravens' offense in its debut under coordinator Gary Kubiak.

In a word, everything.

The quarterback would have had an easier time describing what went right in Sunday's 23-16 loss to Cincinnati.

"We played about as bad as you can in terms of just simple fundamental things — throwing, catching, running routes, staying up, just running the ball, couple mental busts," Flacco said.

The Ravens were limited to 97 yards in a scoreless first half, didn't get on the scoreboard until late in the third quarter and yielded two sacks to end their final make-or-break drive.

Although Flacco completed 35 of 62 passes for 345 yards and Baltimore finished with 420 yards and 26 first downs, the numbers are deceiving.

Without a doubt, improvement will be needed quickly with the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday night.

"You can't sulk on the losses," said wide receiver Steve Smith, whose 80-yard touchdown catch briefly gave the Ravens a 16-15 lead with 5:48 remaining.

"You've got to be prepared and ready to understand who you're playing and what you've got to do — and improve on what you didn't do well."

After Smith put Baltimore ahead for the first time, A.J. Green caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton with 4:58 left to win it for Cincinnati.

Green got behind cornerback Chykie Brown, who was pressed into a starting role for the injured Lardarius Webb. Brown got a hand on the ball, which popped from Green's grasp before he gathered it in. After putting a fake on safety Darian Stewart, Green trotted into the end zone.

"I just have to make that play," Brown said.

The subsequent 2-point conversion made it 23-16, and the Bengals held on.

Following Green's score, Flacco took the Ravens to the Cincinnati 16 before he was sacked on third and fourth down, the last with 55 seconds left.

Dalton went 25 for 38 for 301 yards to help the Bengals end a four-game losing streak in Baltimore.

"We did exactly what we set out to do there today," Dalton said. "There are a lot of tough places to play in this league and this is certainly one of the toughest. It was the only place I had not won since joining the Bengals."

Mike Nugent kicked five field goals to give the Bengals a 15-0 halftime lead.

Baltimore cut it to 15-10 before Smith broke his pattern to go deep as Flacco scrambled out of the pocket. Smith hauled in a pass along the left sideline and used his right arm to brush aside Adam "Pacman" Jones before stepping into the end zone.

Smith, who played 13 seasons with Carolina before signing as a free agent, finished with seven catches for 118 yards in his Ravens debut.

Playing without starting running back Ray Rice, who began a two-game suspension for domestic violence, the Ravens mustered only 91 yards rushing. Starter Bernard Pierce, who gained 14 yards on six carries and lost a fumble, was overshadowed by Justin Forsett, who ran for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Both teams were affected by injuries. Baltimore placed Webb on the inactive list with a back injury, and Dalton repeatedly picked on Brown.

The Bengals lost Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a concussion late in the second quarter, and tight end Tyler Eifert left in the first half with a right elbow injury.

Flacco was booed by many in the sellout crowd after throwing an interception to end a promising third-quarter possession. On Baltimore's next series, however, Flacco finally put together his first scoring drive of the season.

Completing six of seven passes for 63 yards, he moved the Ravens 82 yards for a touchdown — a 13-yard run by Forsett.

Baltimore's defense then produced its first three-and-out, and Flacco followed with a 14-play drive that produced a 38-yard field goal to make it 15-10 with 10:28 remaining.

Nugent connected on field goals of 49, 22, 28, 46 and 38 yards before halftime, and Baltimore's lone sustained drive ended horribly on the final play of the half.

Down 15-0, the Ravens moved to the Cincinnati 15 with 8 seconds left. Flacco bounced around in the pocket, cut right as time expired and was sacked, ending Baltimore's chance to at least get a field goal.

NOTES: Jeromy Miles got Baltimore's first blocked field goal since Kelly Gregg against Cincinnati on October 11, 2009. ... Dalton is 31-18 as a starter, the best in Bengals history for a QB with 10 or more starts. ... The loss stops Baltimore's eight-game home opener winning streak, dating back to 2006.

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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