|National Football League|
Bengals fall flat in 44-13 loss to Ravens
By DAVID GINSBURG
BALTIMORE (AP) The Cincinnati Bengals waited eight months to play a meaningful game after getting blown out by Houston in the opening round of the 2011 playoffs
Maybe next week they'll get the desired result.
The Bengals came up with a dud of a performance in a season-opening 44-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
Cincinnati gave up 430 yards in offense, committed two turnovers and was outscored 27-0 over the final 24 minutes in a humiliating loss to their AFC North rivals.
"Certainly wasn't what we expected to have out here today," coach Marvin Lewis said. "We got outplayed and we got outcoached. We did things that were positive, but all in all I don't think we played well enough to win in any phase."
"I've got to make a better throw," Andy Dalton said of his ill-fated pass, which put the Ravens up 34-13 late in the third quarter. "Turnovers decide the game."
And the defense didn't get any.
"They just outplayed us. It's simple," tackle Domata Peko said. "We made too many mistakes overall - as a group, as a team, in all aspects of the game."
Utilizing a new no-huddle attack, Joe Flacco threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns for Baltimore.
"That tempo really helped us out because those guys can really get to the passer and really create a lot of pressure," he said. "I think the fact that we were able to go up-tempo and kind of keep those guys on the field took its toll on them."
After letting an early 14-point lead dwindle to 17-13, the Ravens pulled away by scoring 24 straight points in just over six minutes. Ray Rice ran for 68 yards and two short scores, but instead of dominating the Baltimore attack in his usual fashion, the running back took a back seat to Flacco.
"Obviously, everything went pretty well for us tonight," Flacco said.
Not so for the Bengals, who made the playoffs last year without beating a team that qualified for postseason play. In this one, Cincinnati once again came up short against a high-caliber opponent.
"I wish I could say it was the no-huddle," Lewis said. "I think it's an effective thing for them, and it's something they'll continue to do, but I don't think it really bothered us."
Flacco watched the final eight minutes of the blowout on the sideline after going 21 for 29 in Baltimore's ninth consecutive victory in the AFC North. The Ravens were the only team in the division to win an opener.
And while the offense certainly was impressive, Baltimore's defense also excelled in its first game under coordinator Dean Pees. Playing without injured NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs - who had 14 sacks last year - the Ravens dropped Dalton four times.
Not only that, but Baltimore turned two turnovers into touchdowns over a two-minute span. After Reed's touchdown return, 37-year-old linebacker Ray Lewis forced a fumble by Dalton that was recovered by Lardarius Webb, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Rice to make it 41-13 with 13:41 remaining.
Reed's jaunt with a pass tipped by Cincinnati receiver Brandon Tate put the diminutive safety in the NFL record book. Reed has 1,497 yards in interception returns, eclipsing the previous record of 1,483 yards by Rod Woodson. It was Reed's seventh career score on a pickoff return.
Dalton went 4 for 5 for 56 yards in the opening drive of the second half, and although the drive stalled at the Baltimore 1, Mike Nugent kicked a 19-yard field goal to get the Bengals to 17-13.
Flacco brought the Ravens right back, throwing a bit of Rice into the mix with excellent results. Rice caught a screen pass for 18 yards and ran for 13 more during an 89-yard drive in which Flacco went 5 for 7 for 73 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dennis Pitta.
After a 40-yard field goal by Ravens rookie Justin Tucker made it 27-13 with 1:13 left in the quarter, Reed struck exactly one minute later.
Flacco went 12 for 15 for 183 yards in the first half to stake Baltimore to a 17-10 lead.
Flacco set the tone for the shootout on the game's first offensive play, throwing deep to Torrey Smith for a 52-yard gain. That set up a 46-yard field goal.
Baltimore quickly forced a punt, and Flacco went back to work. He completed a 16-yarder to Jacoby Jones on a third-and-15, tossed a 1-yard pass to Rice on a fourth-and-1 and watched from the backfield as Rice completed the 12-play, 63-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run behind a fine block by fullback Vonta Leach.
After Dalton got Cincinnati to 10-3 with a 76-yard march that ended with a field goal, Flacco capped an 82-yard drive by splitting two defenders with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin.
The Ravens finally punted with 6 minutes left in the first half, and Dalton used the rest of the time to move the Bengals to their lone touchdown. The Bengals twice converted fourth downs on the 81-yard march, the last one a 6-yard run into the end zone by BenJarvus Green-Ellis on a fourth-and-1.
Green-Ellis rushed for 91 yards and a score in his Cincinnati debut.
NOTES: Ravens owner Art Modell was honored with a tribute and a moment of silence before the game. ... Reed hurt his hamstring on the runback but says he's OK. ... Bengals safety George Iloka hurt his ankle in the first half.
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Updated September 11, 2012