The Cincinnati Bengals failed to take advantage of having the Pittsburgh Steelers in their backyard last Sunday, losing 24-17 to drop to 6-3 overall for the season. Fortunately for former Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati’s schedule quickly offers up a second chance.
And that’s exactly what the Baltimore Ravens are looking for after suffering another emotional letdown last week in Seattle, dropping a tough game to the beleaguered Seahawks.
Sunday’s winner at M&T Bank Stadium won’t just have bragging rights, but one of the two teams will also have a share of first place in the AFC North along with Pittsburgh, who sits atop the division at 7-3.
The Ravens continue to be one of the mysteries in the NFL. On one hand, Baltimore has already the swept their archival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. On the other hand, the Ravens’ three losses have come against the likes of the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and more recently, the Seattle Seahawks.
The combined record of those squads are 11-16. All three teams were below the .500 mark when they beat the Ravens.
After rallying from a 20-16 deficit in Pittsburgh on Nov. 6 to win 23-20, the Ravens laid an egg on its cross-country trip to Seattle with a disappointing 22-17 defeat. The loss dropped the Ravens into a second- place tie with the Bengals.
In Seattle, quarterback Joe Flacco attempted a career-high 52 passing attempts with his final pass an 11-yard touchdown strike to tight end Ed Dickson to cut the Seahawks lead to five with just under six minutes remaining in the game. Following the score, the Seahawks went on a 12-play, 72-yard drive to run out the clock.
Coming into Sunday’s game against the Bengals, the Ravens have a number of factors that benefit them. First, the team has won six straight, and 14 of their last 15 at the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium. Also, Baltimore is 14-4 in games following a loss under head coach John Harbaugh. In fact, the Ravens have won 11 straight following a defeat, which is the longest streak in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Bengals will look to rebound from a 24-17 setback suffered last week at Paul Brown Stadium courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cincinnati trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, but rallied to go on a 17-3 scoring run. Then, late in the third quarter, Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall rumbled in the end zone from nine-yards out to give the Steelers a 24-17 lead. In the end, Cincinnati rookie signal-caller Andy Dalton was picked off not once, but twice in the fourth-quarterback, including a costly pick in Pittsburgh territory with 2:27 remaining in the game, allowing the Steelers to put the game on ice.
Not only did the Bengals lose the game, but in the process they lost arguably their best defensive player, cornerback Leon Hall. That wasn’t the only key injury to the Bengals as rookie wide receiver A.J. Green was forced to miss a large portion of last Sunday’s loss with a hyper-extended knee injury, and is now listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game in Baltimore.
Prior to the loss last Sunday, the Bengals had won five straight games. The five-game winning streak was the longest by a Bengals team since the 1988 Super Bowl team opened the season a perfect 6-0 before losing their first game.
It’s worth noting the Bengals have been one of the league’s best road teams, compiling a 4-1 mark on the road.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game can be seen on CBS.