Posted December 30, 2012 on
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Joe Flacco went to the bench after only two series. Andy Dalton left at halftime. With little at stake, the Ravens and Bengals gave their regular-season finale more of a preseason feel.
Carlos Dunlap returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday, sending the Cincinnati Bengals to a 23-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in a game that didn't much matter to either playoff-bound team.
Played like it, too.
The Ravens (10-6) had already clinched their second straight AFC North title, putting them in line to host Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts next weekend.
The Bengals (10-6) were locked into the sixth seed as the final wild-card team. The only question was who they would play in the opening round, and that wouldn't be answered until games were completed.
So, they went into preseason mode on a 26-degree afternoon with a wind chill of 16.
Josh Brown kicked three field goals in the second half. Dunlap tipped one of Tyrod Taylor's passes to himself and returned it for a clinching touchdown with 6:06 left, jumping into the stands and sitting there for several seconds while fans smacked his back.
The Bengals headed into the playoffs for the second straight season after beating rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore in back-to-back weeks.
They'd been 0-6 against them over the past two seasons, so a strong finish represented a breakthrough, even though the win on Sunday resembled more of an exhibition than anything.
The Ravens sat some of their banged-up playmakers and pulled Flacco and running back Ray Rice after the second series. Receiver Anquan Boldin, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker Terrell Suggs were inactive, giving them a week to rest.
The Bengals were trying to get their running game into postseason shape after it managed only 14 yards during a 13-10 win in Pittsburgh a week earlier.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis pulled a hamstring during pregame warm-ups and didn't play.
The Bengals went with a conservative approach. Dalton didn't even throw toward A.J. Green until the final drive of the first half, keeping the Pro Bowl receiver out of harm's way.
He finally found him for a 17-yard gain that set up an 11-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones, tying the game at 7 heading into halftime.
That was the offense's only touchdown in the last two games.
Bruce Gradkowski took over in the second half for Dalton, who was 10 of 15 for 78 yards with a pair of sacks. Green and others spent the second half on the bench as well.
Brown kicked field goals of 47, 32 and 38 yards in the second half. Brown will be the Bengals' kicker in the playoffs with Mike Nugent sidelined by a calf injury. Brown is 11 for 12 on field goal tries since he signed as a free agent, the only miss on a 56-yard attempt in Pittsburgh.
Taylor, who had thrown only four passes all season, replaced Flacco in the first quarter and led a pair of touchdown drives by running away from defenders. He had a 28-yard scramble and a pitch to Anthony Allen on an option play that went for 20 more yards. Allen then ran the final 2 yards for the score.
Taylor also scored on a 1-yard run in the second half.
BEST OF MAXIM
This season is easily divided into two chapters, split at the bye week. The first was awful and better left forgotten, marred by ineffectiveness and missed opportunities. Fortunately, the second chapter has featured what would seem to be a completely different. And that is the team that will be making the trip to Houston in a few days.
I’ve learned several things about this team...
It's been reported and speculated that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis will play when the Ravens face the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the playoffs on Sunday, but you won't get that information from Ravens coach John Harbaugh. Lewis has missed the past 10 games with a torn triceps, and Harbaugh is reluctant to provide any information that may give the...
It was reported earlier today that Ravens running back Ray Rice will not play today. It looks like the Ravens have changed their minds and will have Rice start and play a few series’. Last second change with the Ravens. Ravens running back Ray Rice is active and is going to play a series or two. — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 30, 2012 Need NFL Tickets? var _CI ...
The Ravens are resting receiver Anquan Boldin, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker Terrell Suggs against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday for a game that meant little to either team.
The Ravens already had won the AFC North and the Bengals had clinched the final wild card berth.
Boldin is inactive for the first time this season because of a bruised shoulder suffered during...
The Ravens are a perfect 4-0 under John Harbaugh in season finales. This one, though, is different than past season finales.
The Ravens have wrapped up the division (it was still in question last season), are almost certain to be the fourth seed and are nursing a high number of injuries. All that adds up to the Ravens being expected to rest players and get healthy for the playoffs...
The Cincinnati Bengals didn't look like a team that would contend for a postseason spot while being routed by the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener, but both these clubs are playoff-bound following their regular-season finale Sunday in Cincinnati.
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Punter Sam Koch was only able to punt the ball out to the Ravens’ 40-yard line. Andy Dalton hit Marvin Jones for his first-career touchdown reception.
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The Ravens are trailing the Bengals midway through the third quarter. Cincinnati has had excellent field position aided by good punting by Kevin Huber.
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You never want to celebrate a "loss"... but in losing 23-17 to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the Ravens can still celebrate that they've won the AFC North Division title for the second year in a row---and they'll be hosting the Indianapolis Colts this weekend in what shapes up as dramatic classic theatre...
The team that left town will have to come to the...
Indianapolis at Baltimore Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore - TV: CBS *TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms *Keys to the game: The Ravens are 1-4 in their past five games and momentum is assuredly in the back pocket of the Colts, but Baltimore is loaded with postseason experience and can rotate Pro Bowl-caliber veterans to snap pressure points. Ray Rice...
For the Ravens: LB Ray Lewis, LB Terrell Suggs, DT Haloti Ngata, WR Anquan Boldin, G Marshal Yanda, S Bernard Pollard and WR Tandon Doss
For the Bengals: DB Jason Allen, FS George Iloka, CB Terence Newman, TE Richard Quinn, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, DT Devon Still and DT Brandon Thompson