Jeremy Maclin

Bengals oust Ravens from playoff hunt with 31-27 victory

Leave a comment

BALTIMORE (AP) The Baltimore Ravens were ousted from the playoff hunt in stunning fashion Sunday when Andy Dalton threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd with 44 seconds, giving the Cincinnati Bengals a 31-27 victory.

Needing a win to advance to the postseason, Baltimore (9-7) rallied from a 14-point deficit to take its first lead with 8:48 left. But Dalton put together a magnificent 90-yard drive in the closing minutes before hitting Boyd over the middle on a fourth-and-12 play.

Boyd avoided a tackle by Maurice Canady and raced to the end zone to give Cincinnati (7-9) the victory in what might have been its final game under coach Marvin Lewis.

Baltimore entered knowing it could have also gotten into the postseason if either Tennessee or Buffalo tied or lost. Both those teams won, leaving the Ravens with no margin for error on a frigid and windy day.

After getting off to a horrid start, the Ravens appeared in position to end their two-year hiatus from the postseason. Plenty of players stepped up in their time of need: Chris Moore had a pivotal kickoff return, Alex Collins delivered a huge fourth-down touchdown run and quarterback Joe Flacco bounced back from a horrible 4-for-18 start.

Flacco’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace made it 27-24, but all of that was rendered meaningless after Dalton put an appropriate finish on a game filled with huge plays.

Dalton also threw a pair of touchdown passes to Tyler Kroft.

The Ravens were down 17-3 late in the first half when Moore rambled 87 yards with a kickoff before being stopped near the left sideline with 8 seconds left. He finished what he started on the next play, catching a 6-yard touchdown pass.

Thus, Baltimore trailed by only 17-10 at the break despite a 268-61 deficit in yardage and 16-2 disparity in first downs.

The Ravens took that momentum into the third quarter, moving deftly downfield before Moore juggled a pass that ended up in the hands of Cincinnati’s Darqueze Dennard, who sprinted down the left sideline 89 yards for a touchdown.

Trailing again by two TDs, Baltimore faced a fourth-and-3 from the Cincinnati 17. Collins took a pitchout designed to go around left end, reversed his field and ran around a block by Flacco to get into the right corner of the end zone.

That set the stage for a tense fourth quarter in a game Cincinnati dominated at the outset.

The Bengals moved 78 yards on eight plays following the opening kickoff and took a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Kroft. That represented more points than Cincinnati scored in the first game between the teams, a 20-0 Baltimore victory in the season opener.

The Ravens’ first five possessions produced several dropped passes, one first down and five punts.

CHILLIN’ TO THE MAXX

Ravens tight end Maxx Williams went through preliminary warmups without a shirt, even though the temperature was 19 degrees. He did, however, wear a knit hat and sweat pants.

INJURY UPDATE

Bengals: LB Jordan Evans (head, shoulder) left in the third quarter. … WR Josh Malone (ankle) did not play in the second half. … S Shawn Williams (back) left in the third quarter.

Ravens: Moore sustained a concussion in the third quarter and did not return. … WR Jeremy Maclin (knee) was inactive for a second straight week. … Ravens DB Anthony Levine (foot) left in the second quarter.

For more AP NFL coverage: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Ravens beat Colts 23-16 to edge closer to playoff berth

AP Image
Leave a comment

BALTIMORE (AP) Joe Flacco threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns, Justin Tucker kicked three field goals and the Baltimore Ravens moved a step closer to securing a playoff berth by beating the Indianapolis Colts 23-16 on Saturday.

The Ravens (9-6) scored on their first two possessions and held off the skidding Colts (3-12) in a windy, rain-soaked second half.

Baltimore will reach the playoffs as an AFC wild card by defeating Cincinnati at home next Sunday. Striving for their first postseason berth since 2014, the Ravens have won five of six following a 4-5 start.

Indianapolis made it tough on Baltimore, closing to 16-13 in the third quarter before Flacco threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Maxx Williams with 8:40 remaining.

It was 23-16 when Anthony Walker blocked a Ravens punt, giving the Colts the ball at the Baltimore 27 with 2:36 left. Indianapolis moved to the 10 before a third-down sack and a fourth-down incompletion ended the comeback bid.

Flacco, who went 29 for 38, has thrown for seven TDs with just one interception over his last four games.

The Colts have lost six in a row for the first time since 2011, when they opened 0-13. That was the year before they drafted quarterback Andrew Luck, whose absence this season with a shoulder injury contributed heavily to the team’s slide into the AFC South cellar.

Jacoby Brissett completed 16 of 33 passes for 215 yards and Frank Gore had 68 yards rushing and a touchdown catch for Indianapolis. More importantly, the Colts did not commit a turnover against a team that leads the NFL with 33 takeaways.

Adam Vinatieri kicked three field goals for the Colts, but he had one blocked and came up short on a 60-yard try at the end of the first half.

Flacco went 16 for 22 for 157 yards to help the Ravens take a 13-7 halftime lead.

After kicking a field goal on its first possession, Baltimore blocked a field goal try by Vinatieri. The Ravens then launched a 71-yard drive that ended with Flacco tossing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Michael Campanaro for a 10-0 lead.

Brissett answered with a 14-yard TD pass to Gore, and Tucker kicked a 39-yard field goal for Baltimore after the two-minute warning.

Tucker connected from 36 yards out to increase the lead to 16-7 with 5 1/2 minutes gone in the third quarter, but Vinatieri kicked a pair for the Colts to make it 16-13.

BLOCK THAT KICK

Baltimore’s Tony Jefferson swatted away a 38-yard FG try in the first quarter, the 13th blocked kick by the Ravens since 2014 and their fifth over the past two seasons. It was the first time the Colts had a FG blocked since Nov. 3, 2013. Vinatieri later came up short on a 60-yard try before connecting from 48 and hitting the right upright on a successful 38-yarder.

INJURY UPDATE

Colts: WR Donte Moncrief (ankle), CB Rashaan Melvin (hand) and TE Jason Vander Laan (concussion) were among seven players on the inactive list.

Ravens: WR Jeremy Maclin (knee) was on the inactive list. … CB Jaylen Hill (right knee) left in the third quarter and did not return.

UP NEXT

Colts: Wrap up this unpleasant season at home against Houston on New Year’s Eve.

Ravens: Seek their first sweep of Bengals since 2012. Baltimore won the Super Bowl that season.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Ravens stay in playoff picture, down winless Browns 27-10

AP Photo
Leave a comment

CLEVELAND (AP) Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass, ran for a score and beat Cleveland again as the Baltimore Ravens stayed on track for the AFC playoffs with a 27-10 win Sunday over the Browns, now two losses from becoming the NFL’s second 0-16 team.

Flacco scored on a 2-yard run and threw a 33-yard TD pass to Benjamin Watson as the Ravens (8-6) took control with two touchdowns in the final 3:01 of the first half.

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams recovered a fumble and rolled in for a TD in third quarter to put the Ravens up 24-10.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

The Browns (0-14) went 0-8 at home – 0-7 in Cleveland, 0-1 in London – for the second time and must win at either Chicago or Pittsburgh to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions in the notorious 0-16 club. Last season, the Browns avoided infamy by winning their final home game and finishing 1-15.

Cleveland is 1-29 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, who is expected to be back despite his .033 winning percentage.

Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer threw two more interceptions, the last into a group of defenders in the fourth quarter.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh wasn’t concerned about his team overlooking the Browns with so much on the line. Baltimore was coming off a last-second, 39-38 loss at Pittsburgh last week, and while the Ravens weren’t at their best, they didn’t do anything to help Cleveland.

With victories at home over Indianapolis and Cincinnati in its last two games, the Ravens will return to the postseason after a two-year absence.

Flacco completed 26 of 42 passes for 288 yards and improved to 17-2 in his career against Cleveland.

With the Ravens leading 17-10, Baltimore’s defense put away the Browns.

Kizer was stripped in the end zone by Za'Darius Smith and the loose ball was pounced on by Williams, who shimmied his 340-pound frame across the goal line.

Later, Kizer forced a throw to the back of the end zone that could have been picked off by three Ravens.

Cleveland was held to zero total yards in the first quarter, but the Browns went on a 96-yard drive – Isaiah Crowell ran for 59 on the first play – to take a 7-3 lead on Duke Johnson‘s 12-yard run.

After reaching the end zone, Johnson knelt with teammates before flashing “5-0” with his hands to salute Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is recovering from back surgery.

RAVENOUS RAVENS

Baltimore has scored five defensive touchdowns. It’s also forced 33 takeaways – nine in two games against Cleveland.

SUNDAY SCHOOL

The Browns have lost 31 consecutive games on Sunday.

QB CLASS

Flacco’s .895 winning percentage against the Browns is the third best by an active quarterback against any opponent. Ben Roethlisberger is 21-2 (.913) against Cleveland and Tom Brady is 27-3 (.900) against Buffalo.

HUE’S FUTURE

Marvin Lewis’ imminent departure in Cincinnati has added a new wrinkle to Cleveland’s cloudy coaching situation.

Although owner Jimmy Haslam has said Jackson will return in 2018, new general manager John Dorsey has left open the possibility of a coaching change. Dorsey ripped fired vice president of football operations Sashi Brown earlier this week, but sidestepped a question about Jackson’s future.

INJURIES:

Ravens: WR Jeremy Maclin injured his knee on the first series, returned briefly and then was held out. … S Chuck Clark sustained a head injury in the first quarter but returned after clearing concussion protocol. …DT Carl Davis left to be treated for a head injury in the second quarter.

Browns: CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee) missed his second straight game. … DT Danny Shelton sustained a lower right leg injury in the second half but returned.

UP NEXT

Ravens: Host Indianapolis on Sunday.

Browns: Visit Chicago on Sunday.