Sep 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) dives for a first quarter touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win–a decisive win. The Cincinnati Bengals are now 3-0 after beating the Baltimore Ravens 28-24. Cincinnati jumped out to an early 14-0 halftime lead but struggled to keep the lead in the third quarter, allowing the Ravens to make a comeback and lead during two points of the fourth quarter. Despite this, Cincinnati still sits atop the AFC North after beating Baltimore, who is now 0-3 for the first time in team history.
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played a heck of a game, passing for a career-high 383 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown. Despite throwing an interception in the Ravens’ end zone and losing a fumble that was recovered for a touchdown, Dalton showed poise, bouncing back in the fourth quarter and picking apart the Ravens defense on two touchdown drives.
A.J. Green finally had his big game, catching ten passes for a career-high 227 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yard bomb down the field to take the lead in the fourth quarter and a nice grab in the red zone to win the game.
Tyler Eifert didn’t catch a single pass; his only play that would’ve been a catch–a grab he made at the goal line–was ruled incomplete because he lost control of the football while crossing the goal line (Calvin Johnson/Dez Bryant rule). You can watch the controversial play here.
Sep 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) celebrates his touchdown run against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati’s defense was plagued by inconsistency, giving up multiple fourth-down conversions, allowing the Ravens to make two third-and-21 conversions and letting Steve Smith catch 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Despite this, the Bengals shut down the Ravens’ running game, intercepted a pass and stopped the Ravens on a potential game-winning drive.
Today’s win wasn’t beautiful, but it showed a lot. The Bengals were resilient, fighting until the last minute of the fourth quarter and overcoming two late deficits. Andy Dalton came up huge when he needed to, and the defense held its own against Joe Flacco late in the game.
The Bengals are now 3-0; the Steelers sit at 2-1 but lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to an injury that looks serious; the Browns are now 1-2 and the Ravens fell into an 0-3 hole. I don’t want to go crazy, but this could be the year that Cincinnati finally wins a playoff game (and could potentially make a Super Bowl run). The AFC is significantly weaker than it’s been in the past, and this hot Bengals team looks like it could take the league by surprise this year.