Back in first; Ravens top Bengals 31-24

Those in attendance at M&T Bank Stadium today sure got their money's worth.

Those of you at home got a pretty sweet deal, yourselves.

The Ravens scored a huge divisional win over the Bengals today, coming away with a dramatic 31-24 win.

But it sure wasn't easy.

Leading by just three points late in the third quarter, the Ravens turned to a defense which had delivered just four takeaways in their last five games. Playing without their emotional leader in Ray Lewis, who was sidelined by a foot injury, that group responded.

With less than a minute left in the third quarter, rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith intercepted Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, and after a nice return and a friendly bounce on a fumble, the Ravens retained possession at the Cincinnati 2-yard line.

One play later, Ray Rice ran it in for a Baltimore touchdown, and the Ravens led 24-14.

On the second play of Cincinnati's ensuing drive, Dalton was picked off by cornerback Lardarius Webb, giving the Ravens possession at the Bengals' 38-yard line.

One play later, Joe Flacco hit rookie Torrey Smith for a 38-yard touchdown, and just like that, a three-point lead had grown to a 17-point advantage.

The Bengals chipped away as the fourth quarter went on, as Dalton composed himself and led Cincinnati on two straight scoring drives to cut the Ravens' lead to seven with 5:32 left.

Dalton got the ball back with 2:27 left and led Cincinnati down to the Baltimore 7-yard line. But with the game on the line, the Baltimore defense held, and the Bengals turned the ball over on downs.

Running back Ray Rice, who, yes, is still on this team, had 105 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon, while rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith added 165 receiving yards - third most in franchise history - and the decisive score.

The Ravens take over first place in the AFC North with the win, and now have a 7-3 record entering Thursday night's matchup with the 49ers. Cincinnati falls to 6-4 with the loss.

Back with more in a bit.

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