In a game that was basically an extra pre-season game, the Cincinnati Bengals used a pick six off of Tyrod Taylor to help lead them to a 23-17 victory over their AFC North division rival Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore and Cincinnati were more focused on next week's Wildcard Round of the Playoffs and less focused on this meaningless game.
All week coach John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens said they were going to play to win the game, what they failed to tell us is that the backups were going to play to win the game. It became evident when the Ravens inactive list came out before game time as any starter with any type of injury was getting a rest. Ray Rice and Joe Flacco started the game, but both were pulled out of the game after just two series played. Cincinnati stuck with their starters a little longer as they played the entire first half, but did not play in the second half. It was also apparent that the Bengals were not going to do anything stupid, as quarterback Andy Dalton did not even throw to All-World wide receiver AJ Green till the final drive of the first half as they wanted to keep him out of harm's way.
For the guys that did play the game, some of them played pretty well. Taylor had a nice day, other than the pick six, filling in for Flacco once he was pulled as he completed 15 of 25 pass attempts for 149 yards with a rushing touchdown and the interception. Taylor, Bernard Pierce and Anthony Allen were a nice three headed rushing attack throughout the day for Baltimore as well. Pierce led the way with 89 yards on 22 carries, Taylor ran for 65 yards on nine carries with a touchdown, and Allen rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore showed that if anything were to happen to Flacco, the Ravens offense would flip the switch to a totally different offense as Taylor was running the option and with his speed and ability to throw the football, it looked pretty good.
A well deserved pat on the back goes to the Ravens defense, especially in the first half when Cincinnati was playing their starters as Baltimore held the Bengals to just seven first half points, Dalton to just 78 passing yards and at one point, forced five consecutive drives that ended with punts. Another pat on the back goes to rookie kicker Justin Tucker, and although he did miss a field goal yesterday he also hit one, and finished the year 30-33 on field goal attempts that comes to a 90.9% success rate which set an NFL record for a rookie kicker, congrats Justin!
Baltimore and Cincinnati will now completely turn their focus to this coming weekend as the road to the Super Bowl and tournament begins on Saturday. The Bengals will hit the road and travel to Houston to take on the Texans, as they lost to the Indianapolis Colts to drop from the one seed to the three seed and miss out on a bye. The Ravens will host those Colts in the four vs five matchup that brings rookie sensation Andrew Luck to Baltimore for the first time. Baltimore will play on Sunday at 1pm, while Cincinnati will play Saturday at 4:30pm.
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