Week 8 – Baltimore @ Cincinnati: Missed by that much

This one didn’t have the excitement of the London game, nor did it have the colour of the Steelers – Colts battle (and I won’t mention anything more about Roethlisberger’s 6 TD, 522 yard game) but this was a crucial game.

If you’ve been following the AFC North, you probably realize just how close it is and essentially every team in the division has the ability to win the division and/or make the playoffs.

For Cincinnati, after the scoreless disaster last week against the Colts, the question of pride was foremost in their minds especially against the division leading Baltimore Ravens. For the Ravens, they won the Super Bowl just a couple of years ago on Joe Flacco’s arm and an awesome defensive unit.

Cincinnati starts with the ball and the Andy Dalton drive says a lot about his maturity in this role. It was controlled and well-executed and with Giovani Bernard’s rushing, there’s a touchdown within five minutes. Flacco then moves the ball, with a lengthy drive of nearly 20 plays, before on a fourth and very short, he throws an incomplete pass on the cusp of the end zone.

Not much else really happens in the first half, except Baltimore kicks two field goals, and at the break its 7-6 the Bengals way.

The Ravens have the ball at the start of the 3rd quarter, and after just a couple of plays, Flacco is intercepted by Emmanuel Lamur who reads the play like a gambler on a sure thing in the form guide.

The Bengals are all fired up and again it ends up with Bernard crossing for a short touchdown.

The next series sees Flacco once again intercepted thanks to a collision with his intended receiver and a linebacker. The Bengals now have great field position, but can’t get the first down, and settle for a Mike Nugent field goal that makes it 17-6.

Surely it’s a “cometh the man, cometh the hour” moment for Flacco and he proves me right with Lorenzo Taliaferro (the Man of Iron) taking it all the way, and this is followed up with a two-point conversion and now it’s only a field goal between the teams.

Despite Dalton’s best efforts on the next drive, he just can’t get the TD pass he’s after and the Nugent field goal early in the final quarter makes it a six-point difference. Baltimore’s next drive leads to a punt and Dalton now has the ball and an opportunity for a win. It’s all going to plan, with the ball on Baltimore’s 32 yard line, before Dalton decides not to take the sack, which leads to a fumble that is recovered by Daryl Smith. Why Andy? Why?

The very next play, after a penalty, Taliaferro once again runs in with relative ease and after the extra point, the Ravens are up by a point. What a change in just a few seconds. Cincinnati’s momentum is all gone, and this is amplified by the Mosley interception giving the Ravens great field position. A 3-and-out leads to a field goal and now Baltimore is up by four with about four minutes to go.

Dalton now leads a drive that is best described as shotgun formation, with 6 or 7 plays in this formation. To his credit, the ball moves quickly and despite three 3rd down plays in the drive, he runs the ball himself up the middle (on a 4th and 1) for the touchdown and lead. Momentum is back!

With less than a minute to go, the game will presumably go one of two ways. Flacco would do a long pass to get field goal position and the game would move to overtime or Flacco would do nothing and it would peter out into a dour loss.

It turns out, I’m wrong on both counts. With only 32 seconds left, Flacco passes to Steve Smith Sr who outworks his man to receive the ball and then run the full 80 yards to the end zone. What a play! Oh wait. There’s an offensive push call for a little touch on the secondary and a penalty is applied and the ball comes back. What a shame.

It seems to destroy Baltimore’s heart and they fail to move the ball before the whistle blows. Close call, but no cigar. That said the Bengals deserved the win and were the better team for the majority of the game and now lead the division. Football’s a funny game.

Oct 26
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati OH (55,711)

Baltimore   – 0   6   8  10 – 24
Cincinnati  – 7  0 10 10 – 27

Passing: Andy Dalton (CIN), 266 yards
Rushing: Lorenzo Taliaferro (BAL) 7 car, 27 yards, 2 TD’s
Receiving: Mohamed Sanu (CIN) 5 rec, 125 yards
Pigskin Almanac “Offensive Hold in Dying seconds” award: Steve Smith Sr (BAL)

About Tony Reed

A 49ers fan from the the Joe Montana days, now enjoys wearing his Kaepernick top when watching games

Comments

  1. Tony McLeod says:

    Great report! The Broncos travel to Cincinnati on Dec 22 for a pre-Christmas game. Hoping for a better result than Baltimore in the Buckeye State.

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