Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens' perennial All-Pros, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the Ravens held off the Cincinnati Bengals 13-7 Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium. Reed had two interceptions and Lewis two fumble recoveries to thwart the Bengals each time they seemed poised to drive for a score in the game. The game ended inside the Ravens five yard line when Bengals QB Carson Palmer threw incomplete on a fourth and one.
Reed's two picks were the third time this season that he had two interceptions in a game and his eight for the year lead the NFL, despite the amazing fact that Reed missed the first six games of the 2010 regular season due to being on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List. Lewis had his typical great game, with nine tackles to go along with the two fumble recoveries.
The defense carried the team today as the offense could not get untracked and QB Joe Flacco had another frustrating game against the team that for some reason seems to bring out the worst in him. He finished 14 of 19 for 125 yards and one interception, a QB rating of 69.0, easily his worst of the season since the week two 15-10 loss to these same Bengals when he threw four interceptions. The Ravens were out-gained by the Bengals 395-199 yards, but five turnovers doomed Cincinnati from their first possession onward. In fact, on the Ravens initial possession after Reed's first interception on the game's third play, they put together a 53 yard drive to set up Billy Cundiff for a 25 yard field goal. Those 53 yards represented more than 25% of the team's total offense the rest of the day.
An offensive performance like this won't take the team far in the post season but then again, a defensive performance like this could very well keep the team alive deep into the playoffs. At the same time, if the Ravens can generate any sort of an offense they could very well be the most dangerous team in the post season, once that no one would really want to face. Who the Ravens face should be determined in the next few hours, as the Ravens will be traveling to either Indianapolis, Kansas City or Jacksonville, based on whether the Colts or the Jaguars win the AFC South in games currently in progress.
Stay tuned but for now, 12-4 and in the playoffs for the third consecutive year. Go Ravens!!!