The Baltimore Ravens missed the NFL playoffs for the first time in six years after falling to the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-17, on Dec. 29 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
The Ravens had to beat the Bengals and also needed the Miami Dolphins or the San Diego Chargers to lose to secure the sixth and final berth in the AFC playoffs. The Dolphins fell to the New York Jets, 20-7, but the Ravens failed to take advantage. The loss also marked the first time the Ravens failed to reach the playoffs during head coach John Harbaugh’s tenure, which began in 2008.
Baltimore struggled offensively throughout the game. The Ravens weren’t able to run the ball effectively and the offensive line didn’t protect quarterback Joe Flacco, who took a bevy of hits. Flacco may have re-aggravated his left knee, on which he wore a brace after spraining it in a win against the Detroit Lions two weeks earlier. Flacco was sacked twice, hit seven times and tossed three interceptions.
The Ravens tied the score at 17 in the third quarter but the Bengals regained momentum on the following possession by driving the field, topped by a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Andy Dalton. Up 24-17, the Bengals piled on 10 more points in the fourth quarter to hold onto the victory and eliminate the Ravens from playoff contention.
Dalton finished with 281 yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown, but also threw four interceptions. Unfortunately for Baltimore, they only managed to generate nine points off of the four turnovers.
Season Total Stats
Flacco finished the season with a career-high 3,912 passing yards but only 19 touchdowns to a career-worst 22 interceptions. He had not thrown more than 12 interceptions in any of his previous five seasons in the NFL.
Ravens star running back Ray Rice rushed for just 15 yards in the season finale, capping easily his worst year as a starter. Hampered with a hip/thigh injury, Rice ran for just 660 yards, nearly 500 yards less than he gained during the Ravens’ Super Bowl season in 2012. Rice caught 58 passes but totaled just 321 receiving yards. He failed to record more than 1,000 yards total from the line of scrimmage for the first time since he played backup during his rookie season.
Third-year receiver Torrey Smith led the Ravens this season with a career-best 65 catches for 1,128 receiving yards. Rookie receiver Marlon Brown finished with 49 catches and a team-high eight touchdown catches.
The Ravens’ defensive unit fared well for most of the season despite the loss of seven starters from last year, including future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Baltimore’s defense ranked ninth in both points allowed and yards allowed heading into the season finale. Veteran middle linebacker Daryl Smith did an excellent job filling the void left by Lewis, collecting 59 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs led the Ravens with 10 sacks on the year, while fellow outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil followed with 9.5 sacks.
Suggs was named to his sixth Pro Bowl, while defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was named to his fifth Pro Bowl. Right guard Marshal Yanda was the only offensive player to make the Pro Bowl, the third of his career, while kicker Justin Tucker was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Tucker made 38-of-41 field goal attempts and all 27 extra-point kicks this season for a new franchise record of 140 points scored in a single season. He broke former Ravens kicker Matt Stover’s record of 135 points set in 2000.