NFL Game Summary - Baltimore at Cincinnati|
(Sunday, January 1st)
Final Score: Baltimore 24, Cincinnati 16
Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - For the first time in five years, the
Baltimore Ravens will have a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Cincinnati Bengals made the postseason, too, even if they backed in with
some help from other teams.
Ray Rice broke off touchdown runs of 70 and 51 yards on Sunday and the Ravens
captured their first AFC North title since 2006 with a 24-16 win over the
Bengals, earning the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Without a victory, Cincinnati needed a loss by the New York Jets plus a loss
by either Denver or Oakland to make it back to the postseason after a one-year
The Jets fell in Miami earlier Sunday, and Denver lost to Kansas City minutes
before two passes into the end zone fell incomplete on Cincinnati's final
Rice's 70-yard touchdown on the game's fourth play from scrimmage was the
longest regular season run of his career. His 51-yarder in the fourth quarter
came after a Cincinnati fumble and gave the Ravens a 24-13 lead with under six
minutes to play.
Mike Nugent kicked a 23-yard field goal to draw the Bengals within eight
points, but they failed to score after starting their last drive with 65
seconds on the clock.
Baltimore's first home playoff game in five years, which will be played on
January 15 at 1 p.m. (et), was well-earned. The Ravens (12-4) went undefeated
in the division for the first time in franchise history with two of the six
wins coming against heated rival Pittsburgh.
They won six of their last seven games to reach the postseason for the fourth
time under head coach John Harbaugh. In each of Harbaugh's first three seasons
at the helm, the Ravens earned Wild Card berths and had to play on the road.
"It just feels good to know we got a home game and it was a total team
effort," said Rice.
The Bengals (9-7) had a two-game winning streak snapped, but became the third
team from the four-team AFC North to make the playoffs. Only the 4-12 Browns
"I think this is the best division in football. It's not even close," said
Harbaugh. "But this is just one championship. We still have two more we're
shooting for -- the conference championship and a world championship. And
that's a tough road."
The Steelers beat Cleveland on Sunday to tie Baltimore at 12-4, but lost the
division because they were 0-2 versus the Ravens.
Cincinnati will play the AFC South-champion Texans in Houston next Saturday at
4:30 p.m. (et).
"The No. 1 goal was to be able to have a chance to be world champions," said
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "We gotta keep playing better in order to do
Rice carried Baltimore, rushing for 191 yards on 24 carries and setting a
franchise record with 15 touchdowns this season, including three receiving. He
finished with 1,364 yards rushing, a career-best, and had an NFL-high five
rushes of 50 yards or more.
Joe Flacco threw for 130 yards on 15-of-19 passing, including a nine-yard
touchdown to Dennis Pitta that gave Baltimore a 17-3 lead at halftime.
Andy Dalton, a playoff quarterback in his rookie season, was 22-of-44 for 232
yards for Cincinnati and Cedric Benson rushed for 51 yards on 13 carries,
while Bernard Scott scored on a 25-yard run. Mike Nugent kicked three field
goals in the loss -- two from 46 yards and one from 23 -- but also missed a
36-yarder in the second quarter.
Rice slipped through the line untouched and took off down the right side for
his first touchdown, outrunning Adam "Pacman" Jones as the last defender.
Billy Cundiff made it 10-0 with a 42-yard field goal before Nugent followed
with a 46-yarder for Cincinnati's first points.
"I just had to stay on my track," Rice said of his first touchdown. "Then I
was off to the races."
Baltimore pushed its lead to 17-3 on Pitta's leaping grab in the back right
corner of the end zone with 11 seconds left before halftime, but the Bengals
pulled within seven points on Scott's touchdown run around the left side of
Just when it seemed like the momentum had shifted after Nugent's 46-yarder
made it 17-13 early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens got it back.
Terrell Suggs knocked the ball out of Bengals wide receiver Jermaine Gresham's
hands for his career-high seventh forced fumble of the season, and Rice had
just enough steam to reach the end zone it on his 51-yard touchdown run to
make it 24-13.
"We just didn't play smart at times," said Lewis.
The Bengals drove all the way to the Baltimore five-yard line before Nugent's
23-yard field goal. They held the Ravens to a punt and Dalton hit Gresham for
a 31-yard pass and found Brian Leonard for another 16, but the rookie's last
three passes were knocked down -- one at the line of scrimmage and two in the
New England locked up the AFC's No. 1 seed earlier Sunday...Suggs also got his
14th sack of the season, a career-best...The Bengals haven't won a playoff
game since January 6, 1991.
01/01 22:32:02 ET