1:00 PM ET, December 29, 2013
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
CINCINNATI -- Even when Andy Dalton is mixing interceptions and touchdowns, the Bengals somehow find a way to win at home. And that's the best thing the AFC North champions take with them into the postseason.
Their next game will be at Paul Brown Stadium, where the Bengals are still perfect.
Dalton threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and set a pair of Bengals passing records on Sunday, leading Cincinnati to a 34-17 victory that eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
More Ravens-Bengals coverage
Baltimore's loss to the Bengals hammered home the point that there was no magic left for the Ravens to overcome their flaws and the defending champs deserved their fate, Jamison Hensley writes. Story
Andy Dalton was either really good or really bad on Sunday, and the Bengals need to eliminate the latter to succeed in the playoffs, Coley Harvey writes. Blog
The Bengals (11-5) are 8-0 at home and get to host a playoff game.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," said Dalton, who was 21-of-36 for 281 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. "The last couple of years we played on the road. For us to have a home game here, it'll be a great environment.
"We're ready for the playoffs to start."
The Ravens (8-8) lost their last two games, denying them a chance to make the playoffs for a sixth straight season. They couldn't avoid the Super Bowl slump that's so common.
The Ravens became the 15th Super Bowl champ that failed to reach the playoffs the following season, and the sixth in the last 12 years. Their running game fell apart, the offense had to settle for field goals and the defense missed Ray Lewis' inspiration in the big moments.
"That's it," coach John Harbaugh said. "That ends it. That stings."
In Cincinnati, there's only one thing in mind: win a playoff game for the first time since the 1990 season. The Bengals lost opening-round games in Houston each of the last two seasons, leaving them tied for the seventh-longest stretch of playoff futility in NFL history.
This time, they'll be playing at home, where they've scored 49, 41, 42, 42 and 34 points in their last five games. Their playoff seeding depended upon a later game between New England and Buffalo.
King Of The Jungle
With his two touchdowns Sunday, Andy Dalton set the Bengals' franchise record for most passing touchdowns in a season.
|Andy Dalton, 2013||33|
|Carson Palmer, 2005||32|
|Ken Anderson, 1981||29|
"If we have to play next week or we have to play in two weeks, this team is going to carry this swagger and attitude into the playoffs," offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "If we continue to put up 30-plus points a game and continue playing defense the way we are, we'll have a chance to make a lot of noise."
Most of the focus will be on Dalton, who had two horrid games in the playoffs. He put together one of the best seasons by a Bengals quarterback, breaking Carson Palmer's club records for touchdown passes and yards passing on Sunday.
Dalton threw interceptions on Cincinnati's first two possessions, then regrouped. He threw a 53-yard pass to A.J. Green, who got behind a defense that went for a fake handoff. Marvin Jones made a one-hand, diving catch in the end zone for a 16-yard score just before halftime.
Dalton's 33rd TD pass surpassed Palmer's club record from 2005. He finished with 281 yards, breaking Palmer's club record for yards passing in a season with 4,296.
After the Ravens tied it 17-all in the third quarter, Dalton led a 90-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard touchdown run.
From MVP to INT
Joe Flacco and the Ravens fell well short of last year's accomplishments and the Super Bowl MVP set a franchise mark for most interceptions in a season.
|Joe Flacco, 2013||22|
|Vinny Testaverde, 1996||19|
|Elvis Grbac, 2001||18|
|Vinny Testaverde, 1997||15|
"He just keeps being Andy," coach Marvin Lewis said. "He just keeps playing."
All too often this season, the Ravens settled for field goals when they got close to the goal line. They did it again on Sunday, managing only three field goals off Dalton's first three three interceptions. Justin Tucker was good from 38, 22 and 34 yards, giving him a club record of 38 field goals.
The Ravens took advantage of Shawn Powell's 10-yard shanked punt and evened it 17-all in the third quarter. Joe Flacco threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown, and Ray Rice ran for the 2-point conversion.
Dalton responded by leading the 90-yard touchdown drive culminating in his run after a faked handoff. Dre Kirkpatrick had two interceptions in the fourth quarter that sealed it, including a 21-yard return for a touchdown.
Flacco, playing his second game on a sprained left knee, was 30-of-50 for 192 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Flacco threw for a career-high 3,912 yards this season. ... Brown's TD catch tied Torrey Smith's club record of 7 TDs by a rookie. ... Rice set a club record for total yards from scrimmage with 9,214 career. ... The Bengals played without TEs Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) and rookie Tyler Eifert (neck). ... The Bengals had to reconfigure their offensive line again when C Kyle Cook suffered a foot injury and tackles Anthony Collins and Whitworth hurt ankles. X-rays on Cook were negative. ... The Bengals had two receivers with double-digit TD catches for the first time in their history. Green had 11, Jones 10.
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 29: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up before the game against the...(Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||3.4||5.9|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-4||2-3|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||1|
|FG||13:53||Justin Tucker 38 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 4 plays, 1 yds, 0:54
|FG||2:30||Justin Tucker 22 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 12 plays, 61 yds, 6:37
|TD||0:26||A.J. Green 53 Yard Pass From Andy Dalton (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 78 yds, 2:09
|FG||6:41||Mike Nugent 39 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 22 yds, 2:17
|TD||2:00||Marvin Jones 16 Yard Pass From Andy Dalton (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 52 yds, 2:50
|FG||9:34||Justin Tucker 34 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 31 yds, 2:44
|TD||5:19||Marlon Brown 8 Yard Pass From Joe Flacco (Ray Rice Run For Two-Point Conversion is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 40 yds, 2:21
|TD||13:33||Andy Dalton 1 Yard Run (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 90 yds, 6:44
|FG||12:23||Mike Nugent 38 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 4 plays, 0 yds, 0:57
|TD||4:15||Dre Kirkpatrick 21 Yard Interception Return (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 0 yds, 0:08
Joe Flacco went 0-of-9 with an interception on passes 15-plus yards downfield Sunday, continuing a season-long trend of poor deep balls. Flacco had more touchdowns on such passes in the 2012 postseason (5) than he had this season (3). The nine attempts without a completion on passes 15-plus yards downfield were the most for Flacco in a game in his career.[+]
Joe Flacco Passing 15+ Yards Downfield - Last 2 Seasons
The Bengals used the zone-read option 10 times Sunday for 67 yards and a touchdown, with Andy Dalton accounting for 19 yards and a touchdown on three of those rushes. The Bengals had used the zone read 18 times entering the week, but had no more than six rushes on those plays in a game
According to offensive EPA, the Ravens had the most inefficient offense in the NFL in their last 8 games (since Week 10). During the last 2 games, the Ravens offense contributed -41.8 expected points to their net scoring margin.[+]
Worst Offensive EPA Since Week 10
Joe Flacco had a 13.1 Total QBR against the Bengals, and his combined Total QBR over the last 2 games was 12.2 (1 Pass TD, 5 Int). Flacco averaged 3.8 yards per pass attempt against the Bengals, his lowest average of the season. Flacco is the 3rd-highest paid quarterback in the NFL using the average cash value of the first 3 years of his current contract ($20.7 M). Using that measure, Flacco finished well below the standard of the top 5 highest paid quarterbacks in the league in terms of Total QBR (among qualified quarterbacks).[+]
Andy Dalton was intercepted on his first pass Sunday against the Ravens. It was Dalton's eighth career interception against Baltimore, his most versus any team.
With the Ravens now eliminated from the playoffs... Eight straight defending Super Bowl champions have failed to win a playoff game. The last defending Super Bowl champion to win a playoff game was the 2005 Patriots.
ESPN Stats & Information