BALTIMORE, Md. — The Cincinnati Bengals superstar players are dropping as fast as their chances to win the AFC North.
At this rate, they may not make the playoffs.
The 34-20 loss on Thursday Night Football to Baltimore was overshadowed by quarterback Joe Burrow’s apparent sprained wrist on his throwing hand.
Joey Franchise clutched his wrist in pain after he made a four-yard TD pass to give Cincinnati a 10-7 lead in the second quarter against Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium (aka The Bank.)
After the play, he tried to grip the ball on the sidelines, but tossed the ball and his helmet down to the turf in disgust — and went into the locker room.
It was as if Elvis had left the building.
“It looked like he sprained his wrist,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “(He) fell on it early in the game and then felt it on the touchdown pass.”
The former No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft did not return.
Earlier in the week, he was seen with a brace on his wrist — but no information was revealed.
But rumors swirled.
Taylor was asked about what he knew about his QB wearing a brace before the game.
He knew nothing.
“Not that I am aware of,” he added.
Prior to the start of the season, the All-Pro QB tweaked his calf and missed most of training camp, and it took about six games for him to fully recover.
Now, he’s out with a wrist injury.
And who knows to what extent or for how long?
“Obviously when you lose your starting quarterback, it’s disappointing,” Taylor added. “That’s tough, but I’ve really felt like our guys knew that we were still in the game and kept fighting. Again, it just didn’t go our way. We didn’t put enough points on the board and didn’t find enough ways to keep points off the board. I really, really felt the guys kept the right mindset as the game went on. We just didn’t get it done.”
The Bengals were also without superstar wide receiver Tee Higgins, who is nursing a hamstring, and standout defensive end Sam Hubbard with an ankle injury for TNF.
And now you can add defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt to the list of the walking wounded.
The standout defensive back missed half the game with a quad injury he sustained while knocking the ball away from a Raven on a diving play.
The extent of his injury was not known.
The night in the Charm City was dismal for the Bengals.
The game was long and drawn out and ended with another loss to put the defending AFC North Champions at 5-5 — and in dead last-place in the division.
Where do they go from here?
The Bengals have a few days to recover, and will host the Steelers on Nov. 26.
“One game at a time, and it starts with Pittsburgh, “Taylor said. “We’ve got a home game. It’s a big one. Our guys will be up for this game. That’s the only thing that we can control at this point. I know our guys are excited to put this one behind us and move on to Pittsburgh.”
After Burrow went out, the Ravens smelled blood and went in for the kill.
Baltimore scored 14 unanswered points in the second quarter, and took a 21-10 lead into the half — after quarterback Lamar Jackson connected with Rashad Bateman for a TD pass to cap off a seven-play, 80-yard drive that took just 1:07 to complete.
From that point on, the Bengals seems lost.
Their leader in the locker room with an injured throwing hand.
And any hopes of a comeback were dashed.
“I don’t know,” a dejected Ja’Marr Chase said. “It’s part of football. Next man up. I’ve got to say, it’s what I’ve always been heard and told. But the new guys got to step up. We have to adjust and make plays.”
But the Ravens have always played well in prime time.
Baltimore is an NFL-best 20-3 at home in prime time under head coach John Harbaugh since 2008, including 9-2 in divisional games.
And they are undefeated (8-0) at home on Thursday Night Football.
In overall prime time games under Harbaugh, the Ravens are 36-17 — which puts them second-best in the NFL.
Jackson has won seven of his last eight prime time starts, including each of his last five.
Overall, he is 8-1 as a starter at home in prime time.
The Bengals have played 18 times on TNF and are 10-8.
At The Jungle, the Bengals are 7-3 on Thursday nights, but only 3-5 on the road.
In the two previous meetings on Thursday with Baltimore, the Bengals won both at home.
Under Taylor, the Bengals are 2-2 on Thursday Night.
When you combine those facts with a stunning Burrow injury, the Bengals didn’t stand a chance.
And from what the Who-Dey Nation witnessed on TNF after Burrow went down, the odds of making the playoffs are falling faster than their players.