On the legs of RB Ray Rice's 191 yards and two long TD runs, the Baltimore Ravens staved off a late raly by the Cincinnati Bengals and not only won the game 24-16, but the AFC North title, the #2 seed in the playoffs and a first round bye, which will be followed by the first home game in the past four trips to the post season.
The defense came up with the needed turnover of a Bengals fumble, which Rice converted into a 51-yard scamper on a crucial third-and-one play. QB Joe Flacco finished with a solid 15 of 19 fr 130 yards and one TD, but the lack of a single Baltimore turnover allowed the Ravens to play from ahead the entire game.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton played a decent game in the loss, looking calm and mobile in the pocket. Cincinnati will only improve with a young and solid roster and should compete for the post season for years. However, despite the loss, it looks like the Bengals will "earn" a Wild Card playoff slot after all, based on the combined losses from the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets. On the outside looking in were the winning Tennessee Titans, who held onto beat the Houston Texans, but now will have to watch the losing Bengals play next week instead of them.
More to follow, but regardless of the game itself, the Ravens have achieved their first couple of goals and now are in prime position to advance from the friendly confines of Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, where they were a perfect 8-0 this season. Enjoy what will be a great week!