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Baltimore at Cincinnati

Bengals 4-0 in AFC North after defensive victory over Ravens

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

CINCINNATI -- Done with all the drama, the Cincinnati Bengals are grinding their way into the playoff conversation.

Cedric Benson topped 100 yards again on Sunday, and the Bengals scored on their first three possessions, setting up a 17-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens that kept surprising Cincinnati atop the AFC North and undefeated against division foes.

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With a win next Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Bengals (6-2) would be in position to make the playoffs for only the second time in the past 19 years. They won the division in 2005 with a team that still had a lot to learn.

"We're much more mature," said quarterback Carson Palmer, who improved to 8-3 career against the Ravens. "We're a better team. We were a good team back then; we were kind of young and dumb. This team has more guys that understand how rare this opportunity is."

Cincinnati would be in control of the division with a win at Pittsburgh (5-2), which plays Denver on Monday night. The Bengals are 4-0 in division games, including a two-game sweep of the Ravens (4-4).

"That's pretty cool," receiver Chad Ochocinco said. "I like being in the driver's seat. Today was a statement game. I want every game to be a statement game."

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The Ravens have frittered away every advantage they gained by starting the season 3-0. There has been a lot of self-destruction involved -- dropped passes, missed kicks and penalties galore.

"We're not in a great spot," said Joe Flacco, who was frustrated all afternoon and threw a pair of interceptions. "We're in a tough spot."

They've been at their worst against the Bengals, who took advantage of three Ravens penalties to pull off a last-minute touchdown in Baltimore on Oct. 11, a 17-14 victory that gained national notice. By sweeping the series, Cincinnati suggested it has staying power.

"We're not surprised, we're really not," safety Chris Crocker said. "Everyone on the outside is, 'Oh, the Bengals got another one, but they'll fall apart any time.'"

They were solid throughout on Sunday.

Benson was coming off the best game of his career: 189 yards against his former Bears team, a dominating performance that sent Cincinnati into its bye on an upbeat note. Refreshed by a weekend off, he was at it again, running for 117 yards and a touchdown.

Up 17-0 at halftime, it was a matter of holding on. The Bengals did, with a lot of help from the self-destructive Ravens, who had 80 yards in penalties and missed a field goal. Their last chance slipped away when Flacco was sacked on three consecutive plays.

Last season, the Ravens went 11-5 and made the playoffs as a wild card, losing to Pittsburgh in the AFC title game. By losing four of their past five, they've made themselves a long shot to win the division.

"None of us played well," defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "They had [solid] techniques and played physical. And they are a physical team -- don't let anybody tell you they aren't."

Cincinnati scored on its first three possessions -- touchdown, touchdown, field goal -- against a defense that has struggled against the run lately, a surprising change. The Ravens hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher for 39 consecutive games, a streak that Benson broke by piling up 120 in that win at Baltimore.

Now, the Ravens have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of the past four games. They've also hurt themselves on big plays -- two pass interference penalties extended Cincinnati's second touchdown drive.

That's not all.

Ray Rice's 1-yard touchdown run cut it to 17-7 early in the fourth quarter, and the Ravens got their chance to make it close when Ed Reed stripped Ochocinco after a catch at midfield. Steve Hauschka hooked a 38-yard field goal try with 6:12 left.

In the past, the Bengals would have been the ones self-destructing.

"They're not like last year, that's clear," Rice said.

Notes

  • Ravens DT Haloti Ngata missed his first game because of a sprained left ankle. Coach John Harbaugh decided to make him inactive when he had trouble pushing off in pregame warmups.
  • Baltimore's offense has scored 14 points in the two losses to Cincinnati.
  • Bengals WR Chris Henry broke his left forearm in the second quarter, when he made a catch and was immediately tackled. He ranks sixth on the team in receiving.
  • LB Keith Rivers strained his right calf in the second half and was on crutches after the game. He'll go for tests to determine the severity.
  • First-round pick OT Andre Smith practiced last week but was inactive for Sunday's game.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Sun. Nov. 8Final
00077
1430017
RavensBengals
Pass: J. Flacco (18-32, 195) C. Palmer (20-33, 224)
Rush: R. Rice (12-48) C. Benson (34-117)
Rec: R. Rice (8-87) L. Coles (6-72)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDAndre Caldwell, 6 Yd pass from Carson Palmer (Shayne Graham kick is good), 8:55. Drive: 12 plays, 73 yards in 6:05.
TDCedric Benson, 1 Yd run (Shayne Graham kick is good), 2:23. Drive: 10 plays, 80 yards in 4:44.
2ND QUARTER
FGShayne Graham 23 Yd, 7:45. Drive: 12 plays, 75 yards in 6:58.
3RD QUARTER
None
4TH QUARTER
TDRay Rice, 2 Yd run (Steven Hauschka kick is good), 12:54. Drive: 8 plays, 65 yards in 2:43.
Players of the Game

C. Benson
Rush 34
Yds 117
Avg 3.4
TD 1

R. Rice
Rush 12
Yds 48
Avg 4.0
TD 1
 
Baltimore
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
J. Flacco18/3219502
RushingATTYDSTDLG
R. Rice1248110
J. Flacco2302
D. Mason1202
L. McClain2202
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
R. Rice887035
D. Mason331013
T. Heap328015
L. McClain224019
M. Clayton115015
K. Washington110010
Cincinnati
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
C. Palmer20/3322410
RushingATTYDSTDLG
C. Benson34117121
B. Leonard311011
C. Palmer110010
L. Coles1808
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
L. Coles672032
C. Ochocinco566021
J. Foschi232020
C. Henry120020
B. Leonard319010
A. Caldwell31519
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
PIT 28 Final
DEN 10
DAL 20 Final
PHI 16
TEN 34 Final
SF 27
SD 21 Final
NYG 20
DET 20 Final
SEA 32
CAR 20 Final
NO 30
GB 28 Final
TB 38
MIA 17 Final
NE 27
KC 21 Final
JAC 24
HOU 17 Final
IND 20
ARI 41 Final
CHI 21
WAS 17 Final
ATL 31