Going into the game, the Ravens knew that a victory would secure their position as the No. 2 seed in the AFC and, most importantly, a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage in the divisional round at the very least.
On the other hand, the Bengals knew that a victory over the Ravens would give them a wild-card spot in the playoffs. That wasn’t the only scenario that would get them into the playoffs, but it was the only one that they had control over.
Needless to say, both teams had much to play for, and everyone knew that the game would be a dog fight.
The Ravens seemed to take control of the game early with an amazing 70-yard touchdown by running back Ray Rice and a subsequent field goal that put the Ravens up 10-0, but the Bengals never allowed the Ravens to run away with the game. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was impressive and was finding his big receivers all over the field.
The Bengals battled the Ravens until the final snap. After the Ravens scored a touchdown before the half and took a 17-3 lead, the Bengals seemed to wake up. They scored 10 points and came within four points of the Ravens with the score 17-13.
Dalton was finding his receivers down the field and the Bengals defense was limiting the Ravens offense. More importantly, the Bengals seemed to turn the momentum of the game against the Ravens.
Luckily for the Ravens, they had an ace up their sleeve. After the defense forced a fumble by Bengals running back Cedric Benson, Ravens running back Ray Rice broke off a 50-yard touchdown run and put the Ravens ahead 24-13.
Rice’s touchdown demoralized the Bengals, and they never were really able to come back from it. They managed to score another field goal and set Dalton up for a potential touchdown drive—with a minute left in the game—just to force overtime. That was too tall of a task for Dalton, and the Ravens defense stopped the Bengals offense as time expired in the game.
As previously stated, this victory gives the Ravens a first-round bye in the playoffs and assures home-field advantage for the Ravens in the divisional round. The Ravens aren’t a perfect team but they definitely earned the division title.
With all of their injuries, they can certainly use the rest, but perhaps the biggest bonus is the home field advantage since the Ravens have a perfect home record this season.
We always learn more about the Ravens whether they win or lose, so let’s take a look at what we learned after their 24-16 win over the Bengals.