BALTIMORE, MD – After a tough loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the Baltimore Ravens rebounded with a 19-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon.
The win lifts the Ravens’ record to 6-5 with a 4-0 record against division opponents. This also snaps the Ravens’ five-game losing streak to the Bengals. The Ravens are still tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers because both teams stand at 6-5, but the Ravens have the tiebreaker over the Steelers because Baltimore defeated Pittsburgh 21-14 in week 9. The Bengals drop to 3-7-1 as their depleted, injury-riddled season continues.
The Ravens were leading the Bengals 19-12 with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but the Bengals got the ball back with a chance to tie the game. Cincinnati threatened, marching down the field with two separate conversions on third and fourth down. With 1:12 remaining, the Bengals were facing another third down play on Baltimore’s 16-yard line. Quarterback Andy Dalton dropped back to pass and was strip-sacked by linebacker Elvis Dumervil. Defensive end Lawrence Guy fell on the ball, giving the Ravens the ball. The Bengals had two timeouts left, but there was not enough time for them to get the ball back.
Cincinnati was awarded two points on a safety in the last play of the game. The Ravens lined up in punt formation, and Sam Koch ran around in the end zone until time expired. The Ravens were called for multiple holding penalties, but at that point it didn’t matter.
A similar situation occurred at the end of Super Bowl 47 when the Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers.
Sunday was the first game Dumervil played in since Baltimore’s week 5 loss to the Washington Redskins. He missed the first three games of the season with a foot injury, and that injury lingered. After playing two games, Dumervil went back on the shelf until his foot got stronger. After six weeks, Dumervil was announced active and his presence was felt in a big way. Along with the strip-sack, Dumervil recovered a fumble in the second quarter.
Kicker Justin Tucker had a historic day on Sunday. In the first half, Tucker booted field goals of 52, 57, and 54 yards. He added a 36-yarder in the second half. Tucker has not missed a field goal this season, and the kicker has made 34 straight field goals dating back to last season. With the Ravens’ offense struggling to consistently find the end zone (and the red zone, for that matter), Tucker is making a strong case to be this year’s team MVP.
“[Range] doesn’t really matter,” Tucker said after the game. “It’s good to be doing well. I’ve got great people around me. [Koch and Cox] make my job so much easier. Hopefully this is something that will help carry our team through the playoffs and hopefully to a championship.”
Again, the Ravens’ offense got off to a strong start before slowing down. On their first drive, the Ravens put together an 11 play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with Breshad Perriman’s second NFL touchdown; a 14-yard reception from Joe Flacco. The play occurred in the right-hand corner of the end-zone, where Perriman reached over the helmet of corner-back Darqueze Donnard, caught the pass and got both feet in bounds before falling to the ground. Initially, it looked questionable if Perriman got both feet in, but replay clearly showed that Perriman got both feet down and had control of the football before falling down.
After the first drive, Baltimore’s offense got across midfield often, but had trouble getting into the red zone. In fact, the only other time they got inside Cincinnati’s 20 was when Tucker booted his 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Flacco finished the game with 234 passing yards, running backs Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon combined for 97 yards on 26 carries, and wide receiver Mike Wallace caught three passes for 57 yards (long of 31), but there were not a lot of plays made that changed the game.
The Ravens had a 16-3 lead at halftime, and then only scored three points in the second half and allowed the Bengals to threaten late in the game. With opponents like Miami, New England, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh coming up, the offense needs to find a better rhythm.
“I felt like we lost our tempo in the second half,” Flacco said after the game. “There were a couple of things that slowed us down a little bit, and I wish we could have kept [the momentum] going.”
Next week the Ravens face the Miami Dolphins, who have won six straight games. However, only two of the six teams the Dolphins have played during that span have winning records. Nevertheless, Miami is in contention for a Wild Card spot in the AFC playoff race, so next week’s game will be another one the Ravens need to win. In a weak AFC North division with the Steelers on their tails, the Ravens have little room for error for the rest of 2016.
Kickoff against the Dolphins is next Sunday, Dec. 4 at 1:00 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium.