But they’ve also been just as good at not taking full advantage of the takeaways. Baltimore started with the ball at the Cincinnati 47 and again had to settle for a field goal - a Justin Tucker 34-yarder that cut the Bengals’ lead to 17-9 with 9:30 to go in the third quarter.
The Ravens now have just one touchdown in their last 35 possessions. Is that good?
Of note, Tucker has broken the Ravens’ single-season records for points and field goals in today’s game. The second-year kicker has definitely earned the postseason recognition already thrown his way.
Update: Maybe the pick proved to be a spark even though the Ravens didn’t score a touchdown immediately after.
But the Bengals expertly gave the Ravens yet another short-field opportunity with a 10-yard shanked punt by Shawn Powell that started Baltimore at the Cincinnati 40.
The Ravens finally made the Bengals sorry, scoring their first touchdown on an 8-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Marlon Brown. After a flag on Baltimore’s first two-point try put the ball at the 1, Ray Rice followed Vonta Leach around the left edge to cross the goal line and tie the contest at 17-17.
So it’s a whole new ballgame with 5:19 to go in the third quarter. The Ravens have just 147 yards, but they’ve scored 11 straight points with the help of two more Bengals miscues.
A game that seemed en route to a rout is all knotted up.
Update II: That tie was short-lived. The Bengals just completed a brilliant 12-play, 90-yard drive to reclaim a 24-17 lead with 13:29 to go.
Quarterback Andy Dalton ran 1 yard for the go-ahead touchdown after going 5-for-5 for 56 yards on the possession, which took 6:44 off the clock.
The Ravens put themselves in even bigger trouble when a tipped Flacco pass was intercepted on the first snap after the score. That was the 20th time Flacco has been picked off this season and the Bengals are already in the red zone again.
Oh, and the Chiefs have deactivated many key players for their 4:25 p.m. finale against the Chargers - Dwayne Bowe, Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles among them.
Update III: The Ravens were able to keep the Bengals out of the end zone after the interception, but Mike Nugent’s 38-yard field goal has given Cincinnati a 27-17 lead with 12:19 remaining.
After the Ravens tied it, the Bengals have answered with 10 points in a row.
Update IV: The Bengals were on the cusp of putting the Ravens away. They drove all the way to the 1 and had first-and-goal from less than a yard out... when Dalton was intercepted for the fourth time today.
A swing pass to the left was picked off by cornerback Jimmy Smith in the end zone and the Ravens still trail by 10 with 8:23 on the clock.
Update V: Flacco has been intercepted three times in the fourth quarter, and the last one was the most damaging.
Dre Kirkpatrick picked off Flacco and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bengals a 34-17 lead with 3:31 to go.
Probably time to panic now that the Steelers have won, meaning a Ravens loss eliminates them from the postseason. It might hurt a bit more because the Dolphins are also about to lose, meaning Baltimore could’ve made the playoffs with a victory.
Update VI: After coming all the way back to tie it, the Ravens surrendered the last 17 points of the game to fall 34-17 and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Baltimore finishes the season 8-8 for its worst finish under coach John Harbaugh.
The Steelers or Chargers will earn the AFC’s second wild card, while the Ravens and Dolphins will not participate.