Bengals drop Ravens to 0-3 with late TD
BALTIMORE (AP) Thrust into a familiar scenario, the Cincinnati Bengals performed as they had in the past.
So did the Baltimore Ravens, who find themselves in a position they’ve never been in before.
Andy Dalton threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green with 2:10 left, and the Bengals’ 28-24 victory Sunday left the Ravens winless after three games for the first time in franchise history.
The Bengals (3-0) blew a 14-0 lead and twice trailed in the fourth quarter before Dalton brought them back by repeatedly picking apart the porous Baltimore pass defense.
Dalton went 20 for 32 for 383 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was Green, who finished with 10 catches for a career-high 227 yards and two scores.
Coming back against the Ravens is nothing new for the Bengals, who rallied in the fourth quarter last season in both of their wins over Baltimore (0-3).
”Stay the course, ran our offense,” Green said. ”It’s not our first rodeo. We’ve been down, last year, in the same situation. We didn’t flinch, man.”
Cincinnati has won four in a row in this AFC North rivalry for the first time. Five of the past six games have been decided by seven points or fewer.
The Ravens blew a fourth-quarter lead last week in Oakland after coming up short in the closing minutes at Denver. In their home opener, nothing changed.
”We’ve had three chances in a row and we haven’t gotten it done,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. ”We’ve got to find a way to finish.”
The Ravens lost despite getting 362 yards passing from Joe Flacco, who twice connected with Steve Smith for touchdowns. Smith had 13 catches for 186 yards, but it wasn’t enough to offset a miserable performance by the defense.
Baltimore was the only existing NFL team never to start 0-3. Before this season, it had been a decade since the Ravens began with two straight defeats.
After the Ravens went ahead for the first time, turning a fumble by Dalton into a 41-yard touchdown return by Mosley for a 17-14 lead with 6:49 left, Green immediately got free and caught a pass in stride that he turned into an 80-yard score. Green broke a tackle by Jimmy Smith, shook off Will Hill and scrambled into the end zone.
Baltimore answered with a 79-yard drive that featured two third-down conversions and ended with Steve Smith catching a 16-yard touchdown pass in front of Dre Kirkpatrick for a 24-21 advantage with just under four minutes to go.
That left plenty of time for Dalton to take the Bengals 80 yards in six plays. The drive included an outstanding one-handed catch by Marvin Jones for 31 yards, just two plays before Green came up with the game-winner.
”Hats off to our guys for hanging in there, driving down the field twice to get back in control of the football game,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.
At one point, it appeared as if the game might be a rout. Twice, the Bengals twice missed opportunities to take a 21-0 lead.
Less than two minutes before halftime, Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert had a fourth-down catch in the end zone overturned after replay review determined he never had possession of the ball.
The Bengals’ next possession had a similarly frustrating conclusion. After moving Cincinnati from its 29 to the Baltimore 10, Dalton threw his first interception of the season.
The Ravens subsequently moved to midfield before facing a fourth-and-5. Coach John Harbaugh, who earlier called for a fake punt that was successful, opted to keep his offense on the field.
The move paid off. Steve Smith caught a sideline pass, twisted free and sprinted down the right side to get Baltimore its first points of the day.
In the end, though, the Bengals had more.
”We’re 3-0. How do you think 3-0 feels?” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. ”It’s early in the season, but I’d rather be 3-0 here than where Baltimore is right now.”
NOTES: Both teams were affected by penalties. Cincinnati was flagged nine times for 67 yards, and the Ravens were cited for 13 infractions totaling 116 yards. … Green’s 227 yards receiving were the third-most ever allowed by the Ravens. … An exhausted Steve Smith received intravenous fluids on the sideline in the fourth quarter.
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