|Date of game: 10/26/2014
Recap: Cincinnati vs. Baltimore
Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Andy Dalton's second touchdown run of the game, a 1-yard sneak on 4th-and-goal with 57 seconds remaining, lifted the Cincinnati Bengals to a thrilling 27-24 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in an important AFC North clash from Paul Brown Stadium.
Dalton redeemed himself after committing a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers that led to 10 straight Baltimore points and gave the Ravens a 24-20 lead with under four minutes left. The Bengals (4-2-1) then survived a near comeback from their division rivals in the final minute to halt a three-game winless streak and move percentage points ahead of Baltimore for first place in the AFC North.
The Ravens appeared to have scored a go-ahead 80-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Steve Smith with 32 seconds to go, but Smith was flagged for offensive pass interference and Baltimore (5-3) was ultimately stopped on downs.
Dalton lost a fumble and threw a late interception to help trigger the Ravens' comeback from a 17-6 third-quarter deficit, but finished a sharp 21-of-28 for 266 yards. Mohamed Sanu contributed a career-high 125 yards on five catches in the pivotal win, which gave Cincinnati a tiebreaker edge on Baltimore in the division race by virtue of a season series sweep.
"You can't focus on what's already happened. You have to focus on what's next, and have the confidence the next play is going to be the big one," said Dalton. "I've been that way my whole career."
Flacco tossed a pair of third-quarter interceptions that were converted into 10 Cincinnati points, but Lorenzo Taliaferro ran for two touchdowns during a 17-3 swing that sent the Ravens ahead before the deciding drive.
Flacco completed just 17-of-34 attempts for 195 yards.
Dalton's interception, in which Sanu had the ball knocked out of his hands and it landed in the grasp of Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley near midfield, was turned into Justin Tucker's 53-yard field goal that increased Baltimore's lead to 24-20 with 3:59 remaining -- enough time for the Bengals to march downfield and change momentum once again.
Sanu hauled in a deep strike for a 53-yard gain to get Cincinnati in enemy territory and Dalton completed two more throws to move the ball to the 6-yard line at the two-minute warning. After three consecutive Jeremy Hill runs created a 4th-and-goal from the one, Dalton called his own number and pushed himself into the end zone with just under a minute to play.
"It was a good situation to catch them off guard," said Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. "I think they were prepared for us to throw it or move the pocket, and we caught them in a good position."
Flacco then misfired on two passes before finding Smith deep down the right side, and the veteran receiver eluded two defenders prior to racing into the end zone that was nullified when the officials ruled he had pushed off.
"You hope that you don't allow plays like that to dictate or be the determination of a win or a loss," Smith said. "It happened. Not disappointed, not upset, not frustrated, just exhausted and looking forward to the chance to play next week."
Taliaferro only managed 13 yards on a short catch with the Ravens saddled with 4th-and-20, allowing the Bengals to run out the remaining time.
No late-game heroics seemed necessary after the Bengals stretched a 7-6 halftime edge into an 11-point advantage by capitalizing on two Flacco mistakes.
Emmanuel Lamur came up with an interception on the initial drive of the second half prior to Cincinnati marching 51 yards on eight plays and furthering its lead on Giovani Bernard's 1-yard run on 3rd-and-goal.
Flacco's next pass also landed in the hands of a Bengals' defender, with Adam Jones returning the ball 12 yards to the Baltimore 18 to set up Mike Nugent's 32-yard field goal that put Cincinnati up 17-6 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third.
The Ravens responded by putting together a crucial 9-play, 79-yard series highlighted by Taliaferro's 29-yard gain on a screen play. Following Flacco's 13-yard scramble that created a 1st-and-goal, Taliaferro burst up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown to get Baltimore within 17-14 after Justin Forsett ran in the 2-point try.
Dalton connected on six straight attempts to position Nugent for a successful 33-yard field goal on the ensuing possession, but the Bengals' subsequent drive ended in disaster as Dalton was sacked by Haloti Ngata and had the ball dislodged, with Daryl Smith scooping up the fumble and barreling 39 yards to the Cincinnati eight with 6:36 to go.
Taliaferro followed his blockers into the end zone on the next play to send Baltimore in front by a 21-20 count, the Ravens' first lead of the afternoon.
Dalton and the Bengals got their day off to a strong start, as the quarterback's first pass resulted in a spectacular one-handed catch-and-run by Sanu that brought the ball inside the Baltimore 20. His second attempt was snared by Greg Little for a 21-yard gain to the Ravens' two, and Dalton snuck into the end zone two plays later to stake Cincinnati to a quick 7-0 edge.
The Bengals' defense then came up with a goal-line stand, stuffing runs by Taliaferro and Forsett before Flacco's fourth-down pass for Kamar Aiken from the 1-yard line landed incomplete.
Baltimore got the ball back near midfield after forcing a three-and-out, however, and Michael Campanero's 17-yard catch on 3rd-and-10 put Tucker in range to hit a 45-yard field goal with 9:15 left in the second quarter.
Tucker later knocked through a 50-yarder near the end of the first half, with a 13-yard catch by Smith on 3rd-and-7 and Forsett's 12-yard run setting up the kick.Game Notes
Cincinnati also rallied in the fourth quarter to hand the Ravens a 23-16 loss
in Baltimore in Week 1. A.J. Green had a go-ahead 77-yard touchdown catch in
that contest, but sat out a third straight game on Sunday due to an injured
toe ... The Bengals improved to 12-0-1 in their last 13 home games and posted
their first season sweep of Baltimore since 2009 ... Bernard rushed for 45
yards on 16 carries before exiting the game in the fourth quarter with a hip
injury ... Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was carted off on the game's opening
drive after hurting his left foot ... Cincinnati converted 8-of-14 third-down