Halftime notes as Ravens lead Bengals 17-3

The Ravens are just 30 minutes away from earning their first division title since 2006.

An inspired effort has Baltimore on top of the Bengals 17-3 with two quarters left in the regular season. One more solid half of football and the Ravens will earn a first-round bye and at least one home playoff game.

Hope I'm not a jinx.

Here are a few quick-hit notes on the first half of action:

* Now THAT is why Ray Rice needs to get his carries, regardless of score or circumstances. Rice has the ability to take it to the house any time he touches the ball, which is exactly what he did just over two minutes into the game, when he scampered 70 yards for a touchdown.

* What a fantastic block by Marshal Yanda on that Rice run, by the way. Yanda is a tough, tough dude to play through painful rib and thigh injuries, and he did a fantastic job of getting to the second level and sealing off Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga to clear a hole for Rice.

* Joe Flacco has navigated through some tough, windy conditions admirably. Flacco went an impressive 9-of-12 for 101 yards and a touchdown, and that line could have been even more impressive if wide receiver Lee Evans had hauled in a beautiful deep ball in the second quarter.

* One more note on Rice - that 70-yard run was the longest regular season run in Rice's career. He had that memorable 83-yard scamper against New England back in the Wild Card round of the 2009 playoffs.

* The Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta combo is really evolving nicely. The two second-year tight ends have come on strong this year, and have made major contributions today. Dickson made a sparkling 20-yard grab over the middle after absorbing a major hit, while Pitta has four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.

* I hate to say this, but Ed Reed cannot tackle anymore. Reed is still battling a neck impingement which is limiting his ability to wrap up and tackle effectively.

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