The Cincinnati Bengals held on to a 27-24 win over the Baltimore Ravens in what was easily the most thrilling game played Oct. 26.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throws against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half of an NFL football game. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, left, breaks the tackle of Cincinnati Bengals free safety Reggie Nelson on a last minute catch. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Trailing, 27-24, with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco launched a bomb down field to veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr., who out-bodied a Bengals’ defensive back to catch the pass and run in for what would have been an 80-yard touchdown pass and catch to push Baltimore ahead for the 30-27 lead. But before the Ravens could celebrate the play, the game referee called an offensive pass interference penalty on Smith, nullifying the touchdown. Flacco wasn’t able to do anything else from there and the Bengals held on the home victory, sweeping their division rivals on the season.
Baltimore had just taken their first lead of the game earlier in the fourth quarter after coming back from trailing, 20-14 at the end of the third quarter. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was strip-sacked by Ravens’ defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, allowing linebacker Darryl Smith to pick the fumbled ball up and run deep into Bengals’ territory. Ravens’ rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro then ran in for an 8-yard touchdown the next play to give the Ravens a 21-20 lead.
Baltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (34) runs for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Baltimore then extended its lead to 24-20 after Bengals’ receiver Muhammed Sanu was stripped by Smith, fumbling the ball into the hands of rookie linebacker C.J Mosley. The ball never hit the ground so the referees ruled it an interception for the Ravens’ defense. That set up a 53-yard field goal made by Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker, putting the Bengals in need of a touchdown to retake the lead, with only four minutes left in the game.
But Dalton responded well on the next Bengals’ possession and launched a 53-yard pass to Sanu on third down and 10, placing the Bengals in scoring position. Six plays later, Dalton squeezed into the end zone on fourth and goal (2 yards away from the end zone) with a push from his offensive line to retake the lead, 27-24.
That set up a final Ravens’ possession with just a minute left in the game with no timeouts. Flacco’s bomb to Smith Sr. would have been the perfect way to end it for Ravens’ fans; instead, a controversial offensive pass interference left the Bengals’ fans elated as they saw their team win its first game in the last four weeks.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett runs against the Cincinnati Bengals. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Dalton finished the game 21-of-28 for 266 yards, no touchdown passes and an interception, while Flacco completed 17-of-34 pass attempts for 195 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ravens running back Justin Forsett led all rushers with 17 carries for 65 yards, and backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro added 27 yards and two touchdown runs for Baltimore.
Bengals running back Giovani Bernard ran 16 times for 45 yards and a touchdown; Sanu led all receivers with five catches for 125 yards, successfully filling the void left by the Bengals’ injured star receiver A.J. Green.
Mosley led all tacklers in the game with 13 tackles, eight made solo on his own.
The win pushed the Bengals (4-1-1 overall record, 2-0 AFC North) back into the lead of the AFC North division by a half-game over the Ravens (5-3 overall, 2-2 AFC North). Baltimore will face another AFC North division rival next Sunday night, Nov. 2 when they travel to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. to try to sweep the Steelers (4-3 overall, 1-2 AFC North). Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. EST.