Originally written on Ravens Football Machine  |  Last updated 11/20/14
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 Ravens' house. It doesn't get much better for Baltimore fans who are into the history of the sport. And it sure has a lot of extra layers of drama. The Colts' head coach Chuck Pagano is beloved by the Ravens players and their head coach John Harbaugh, who counts Pagano as one of his best friends, and not just because Pagano served as the Ravens' defensive coordinator not that long ago. Pagano and Harbaugh go back a long ways. And to add even more human interest, Pagano has just come off 3 months of intense chemotherapy for treatment of leukemia. So it's an emotional set-up for Baltimore, a team and a town that lives for playoff football. John Harbaugh played his hand well at Cincinnati and nearly pulled off a win against a playoff-bound Bengals team with his 2nd and 3rd-team players.           Carlos Dunlap returned an interception of a Tyrod Taylor pass 14 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday, sending Cincinnati to a 23-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in a regular-season finale that had more of a preseason feel. "It's definitely different," said Bengals' left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who also sat out the second half. "It's a situation where both teams have gotten in the playoffs and you really want to look forward to next week having people fresh and ready and not have any injuries." The Ravens (10-6) had already clinched their second straight AFC North title and decided to use the final game to get healthier. They had several stars inactive and pulled quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice after only two series. They'll host Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts next weekend, reuniting them with former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. "Chuck's like a dad to me," Ravens safety Ed Reed said. "He means a lot to me. I would have much rather seen them in the AFC championship game than the first game." The Bengals (10-6) are locked into the sixth seed as the final wild-card team. They'll open next weekend at Houston, where they lost 31-10 in the first round of the playoffs last season. "I think it will be good," said Bengals QB Andy Dalton, who grew up in suburban Houston. "We played there last year and know the atmosphere and what it's going to be like. The experience last year will definitely help us." With hardly anything at stake, the Bengals went into preseason mode on a 26-degree afternoon with a wind chill of 16. They got their seventh win in the last eight games. "I'm glad that's over," coach Marvin Lewis said. "That's a difficult situation to be in. I thought our guys handled it about as well as you can handle it." 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. "I wanted it to be a highlight to remember," Dunlap said. I thought the Ravens defense played very well in spite of sitting half of their veteran squad. And Bernard Pierce did a great job at RB for the Ravens, despite fighting off a nagging ankle injury that will probably be diagnosed as a sprain. Tyrod Taylor did okay too, and picked his spots to show off his option-style running ability. He just had a few letdowns in his passing decisions which could justifiably be written off to inexperience at the pro level. The Bengals wanted to get their running game tuned up for the playoffs, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a hamstring tighten up during pre-game warm-ups and was held out of the game. Lewis didn't know how it would affect him in the playoffs. The Ravens sat some of their banged-up playmakers and started pulling others from the game after only two series. Receiver Anquan Boldin, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker Terrell Suggs were inactive, giving them a week to rest. 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. Bruce Gradkowski took over in the second half for Dalton, who was 10 of 15 for 78 yards with a pair of sacks. 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 and led a pair of touchdown drives by running away from defenders. Anthony Allen ran 2 yards for a touchdown, and Taylor scored on a 1-yard run. Baltimore's Justin Tucker missed a 45-yard field goal try which might have changed the game in the Ravens' favor had he hit it. He later made one from 49 yards, leaving him 30 of 33 for the season. His 90.9 percent success rate set an NFL record for a rookie. ... The Bengals had four sacks, giving them a franchise-record 51 for the season. Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (coming back from groin surgery) got a lot of playing time and accounted for himself well. And the Ravens' other young corner Chykie Brown looked very solid in coverage. Rookie center Gino Gradkowski got tons of playing time in relief of Matt Birk and seemed to fit in well as he called coverages and blocked downfield. David Reed had a nice outing at wide receiver. Overall, it was a positive experience to get playing time for the young Ravens.  This was a classic case of saving your ammunition for a bigger battle---for both teams. Team Stat Comparison   BAL   CIN   1st Downs 23 9 Passing 1st downs 8 5 Rushing 1st downs 12 2 1st downs from Penalties 3 2 3rd down efficiency 5-18 3-13 4th down efficiency 2-2 0-0 Total Plays 83 49 Total Yards 352 189 Yards per play 4.2 3.9 Total Drives 13 12 Passing 146 142 Comp - Att 19-33 15-26 Yards per pass 4.4 5.5 Interceptions thrown 1 0 Sacks - Yards Lost 4-37 2-1 Rushing 206 47 Rushing Attempts 46 21 Yards per rush 4.5 2.2 Red Zone (Made-Att) 2-2 1-2 Penalties 10-102 4-40 Turnovers 1 0 Fumbles lost 0 0 Interceptions thrown 1 0 Defensive / Special Teams TDs 0 1 Possession 35:39 24:21  
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cavs beat Hawks without Kyrie Irving, take 2-0 lead

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Minor League team cancels 'A-Rod Juice Box Night'

Dolphins teammate on Dion Jordan: It’s a bad situation

Texans reportedly the favorite to be featured on ‘Hard Knocks’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Goodell will not recuse himself from Brady appeal

Will Smith suspended eight games for 'foreign substance'

Report: Kobe Bryant likely to retire following next season

Don Shula named in painkiller lawsuit from former NFL players

Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2 versus Atlanta

Michael Sam signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

The Los Angeles Angels are finally finding their groove

Re-evaluating all 30 MLB teams at the quarter mark

Is virtual reality training the next leap forward for football?

Warriors a very shaky 2-0 against the Rockets

NFL icon Bud Grant zings Pats with Deflategate joke on Twitter

RG3 announces birth daughter's birth on social media

Don't listen to Nick Saban, the bowl system is just fine

MLB scores partial victory in minor league wage lawsuits

Ranking the NBA Playoffs' most significant injuries

WATCH: Will Smith ejected for foreign substance on arm

Guy behind NFL's social media trolling of Pats is a Jets fan?

In defense of 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink

Ten players who could benefit due to PAT rule change

Five QBs set for breakout campaigns

Report: Lakers will pursue Thibodeau

MLS leaders struggling with attendance

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.