Ravens Move Past Bengals to Reclaim First Place; 31-24

In a game that was expected to feature two of the league’s top defenses instead saw both teams offenses light up the scoreboard for 55 total points combined.

The Ravens built a 17-point lead in the Third Quarter but had to hold on in the closing moments to beat division rival Cincinnati 31-24. The Baltimore victory puts them in a tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7-3 but the Ravens sweep of Pittsburgh gives them the tiebreaker. The Ravens win also continued a streak of not losing consecutive games- the longest in the NFL at 36.

The Ravens struggled out of the gate offensively and didn’t get into opposing territory until the Second Quarter. Meabhwhile Cincinnati drew first blood on a 7-yd Cedric Benson touchdown run on the team’s second drive of the game.

Joe Flacco was able to answer off a play-action fake and hit Anquan Boldin who broke off his route and then ran for a 35-yd score to tie the game. After a quick three and out, the Ravens offense used five plays to score once again. Two passes to Torrey Smith – the second was a bomb of 49 yards that set up a Ray Rice 1-yd plunge to put the Ravens ahead 14-7.

The seven point lead was secure until halftime as both Flacco and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton each threw interceptions before the end of the half.

The Ravens offense stalled as they had to settle for a 22-yd Billy Cundiff Field Goal to push the advantage to 17-7. The Bengals answered as Benson hit paydirt for his second time and cut the lead to 17-14.

But as the Third Quarter drew to a close the Ravens defense helped set up their offense with two important turnovers. Rookie Jimmy Smith jumped a route and got his first career interception but, as he returned it the ball was punched out of his grasp from behind. It ended up working out well for Baltimore who recovered the ball on the Bengals 2-yd line. Ray Rice then ran it in for his second score of the day as the Ravens were up 24-14. Andy Dalton’s next pass was interception by Lardarius Webb who made a fantastic pcik as he stretched out towards the sidelines. One play later, Flacco hit Torrey Smith streaking past the defense for a 31-yd score and a 31-14 lead.

Cincinnati refused to go away as Dalton hit Andre Caldwell for a 49-yd pass play as he beat Jimmy Smith to the outside. The Bengals were almost able to pull within three but a controversial juggling catch by Jermaine Gresham was overturned by review and instead Mike Nuget kicked a 27-yd Field Goal to stay within 7 at 31-24.

The drama didn’t end there as Baltimore was forced to punt after failing to convert on a 3rd and 1. Andy Dalton quickly moved his team inside the Ravens’ ten but the Baltimore defense held. Rookie Pernell McPhee sacked Dalton on 4th and Goal to end the game preserve the victory for the Ravens.

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