Despite reports that the Bengals were loose and confident heading into today’s must-win against Baltimore, the Ravens have taken advantage of some Bengal mistakes and tight official calls for a 17-3 halftime lead.
The Ravens got two big plays on their first drive. First, FB Vontae Leach was able to pick up the first down on 3rd-and-short by about an inch. Then, on the ensuing play, Ray Rice found a crease in the Bengal defense and shot 80 yards down the right side for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. They padded that lead to 10 with a 42-yard Billy Cundiff field goal.
Cincinnati responded with a drive of their own that ended with Mike Nugent’s 46-yard field goal to pull within 10-3.
Cincinnati stopped Baltimore and got deep into Ravens territory, but on fourth and one, Mike Nugent’s 36-yard attempt sailed wide right.
The Bengals got the ball back again with a chance to tighten the score, but Cedric Benson was stopped short on 3rd-and-one. The officials initially called it a first down, but after a John Harbaugh challenge, the spot was changed and the Bengals were forced to punt.
On the ensuing drive, the Ravens got the benefit of 3 Bengal penalties totaling 25 yards and the drive ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Dennis Pitta and a 17-3 Ravens advantage with just 11 seconds left in the half.
The Bengals will need to come from behind like they have so many times this season to win the game.
Meanwhile, on the bright side, both Denver and Oakland are losing their respective games. The Chargers have a 21-13 advantage over Oakland, and Kansas City holds a 7-0 lead over Tim Tebow and the Broncos. If the Bengals lose, they need either the Raiders or the Broncos to lose their game to secure the 6th seed.
The Bengals will get the ball first to start the second half.