Cincinnati Bengals lineman Carlos Dunlap intercepted a pass by Ravens quarterback Tyrod Taylor and returned the ball for a defensive touchdown, helping Cincinnati beat Baltimore, 23-17, Dec. 30 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The game was largely meaningless, with both teams in the AFC playoff picture, the Bengals locked into the sixth seed, and the Ravens only able to gain a higher seed with a win and help from other team. Both Baltimore and Cincinnati rested their star players for majority of the game, with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco playing just two series before being replaced by backup Tyrod Taylor. Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice also rested most of the game, along with several other Ravens’ starters.
Taylor, an elusive, athletic quarterback from Virginia Tech, made some plays early on and led the Ravens to a 7-0 lead to start the second quarter. But the Bengals’ starting defense eventually contained him, and made the game-deciding play with Dunlap’s pick-six midway through the fourth quarter. Taylor completed 15-of-25 passes for 149 yards, and also ran for 65 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Most Outstanding Player of the Game:
Carlos Dunlap saved the day for Cincinnati when he tipped Taylor’s pass, then snatched it out of the air and ran it in for a defensive touchdown. The score gave the Bengals a 23-14 lead with only seven minutes left in the game, preventing Baltimore from making a late-game comeback. Before Dunlap’s deflating interception, Taylor and the Ravens’ offense was moving the ball up the field well and could have possibly retaken the lead.
Unsung Hero of the Game:
Bengals rookie receiver Marvin Jones scored his team’s only offensive touchdown of the game on a short pass from starting quarterback Andy Dalton. Jones needed to have a productive game because the Ravens’ defense focused on stopping Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green. After Jones’ touchdown, the Bengals decided to rest Dalton and Green for the remainder of the second half, but Jones stayed in and made plays for backup QB Bruce Gradkowski, finishing with five catches for 45 yards.
More Game Notes:
With Rice resting most of the game, rookie running back Bernard Pierce had the bulk of the carries, rushing for 89 yards on 22 carries. Ravens starting tight end Dennis Pitta also rested, allowing backup tight end Ed Dickson to lead the team with six catches for 64 yards.
Dalton completed 10-of-15 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown before heading to the bench; Gradkowski passed for 65 yards and completed five of 11 passes.
Ravens linebacker Danelle Ellerbe led Baltimore with six tackles, while Bengals’ defender Vontaze Burfict had a game-high 10 tackles.
This was probably the most boring, meaningless regular season game in the history of the Ravens’ franchise. Baltimore didn’t need to win, having already clinched the AFC North title and a playoff seed, and benched all of the exciting players we love to watch. It may be an advantage to enter the playoffs with well-rested players, but the move could come back to haunt the Ravens if they come out rusty in their first matchup.
With the loss, the Ravens (10-6) claimed the fourth seed and will face the fifth-seeded Indianapolis Colts (11-5) in the AFC wild card round on Jan. 6.