The Baltimore Ravens closed out their 2010-11 regular season with a 13-7 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals Jan. 2 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
The win wasn’t pretty, but Baltimore still managed to score enough points and make enough defensive stops to secure a 12-4 overall record for the first time since 2000, when the Ravens won their one and only Super Bowl. The victory also snapped a three-game losing streak against the Bengals, and extended Baltimore’s current win streak to four games.
The Ravens sealed the season finale victory when…
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer tossed an incompletion on fourth down, giving the ball back to Baltimore deep in the Ravens half of the field. With a 13-7 lead and only seconds left on the clock, Baltimore kneeled on the ball for the win.
Outstanding Player of the Game:
Ravens safety Ed Reed left the game with an injury mid-way through the fourth quarter, but by then had already intercepted two passes from Palmer. Amazingly, Reed leads the league in interceptions with eight, despite sitting out the first six games of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Unsung Player of the Game:
Ravens veteran kicker Billy Cundiff scored the game’s first six points with the only two field goals converted in the contest. He also made NFL history by tying the single-season kickoff touchback record with 40; he booted two touchbacks Sunday against Cincinnati.
“The last time that record was set, it was indoors with the old balls,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of Cundiff’s touchbacks record. Former Minnesota Vikings kicker Mitch Berger previously set the record with 40 touchbacks during the 1998 season and the Vikings play home games in a dome. “But now we got new ‘K’ balls, and has been kicking outside in the AFC North. I think that even tells you how impressive that record really is.”
Baltimore will take the No. 5 seed in the AFC Playoffs after the Pittsburgh Steelers routed the Cleveland Browns, 38-3. The Ravens will face the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) in the wild card round scheduled for 1:00 P.M, Sunday, Jan. 9 in Kansas City. Coach Harbaugh said he was disappointed that his team fell just short of gaining a first-round bye—and a home game—for the playoffs, but said his players will be ready for the road trip.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t get the home game for our fans. I think our guys love playing here. We have a big advantage here,” Harbaugh said. “ But we’ve been there before and we’re a mentally tough group. Our team reflects Baltimore. I don’t think we’re intimidated by the opportunity in front of us and we’ll be looking forward to it.”