The Baltimore Ravens entered Sunday with high hopes of extending their consecutive playoff appearance streak to six, but the Cincinnati Bengals completed a perfect 8-0 season at home and knocked the Ravens out of playoff contention with a 34-17 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Baltimore would have clinched the sixth and final wildcard spot in the AFC with a victory since the Miami Dolphins lost, but the Ravens offense finished off its brutal season with yet another dud of a performance.
The Ravens defense did their part as they picked off Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton four times in the game, but the offense could not take advantage of the extra possessions. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco was once again not himself as he completed 30 of 50 pass attempts for just 192 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Flacco was throwing behind receivers as well as under-throwing them and ended his season with a negative touchdown to interception rate as he threw 19 touchdowns this season, while throwing 22 interceptions.
As has been the case most of the season, Baltimore was not able to run the ball very well, and it became very clear that the coaching staff felt they were not going to be able to run the ball effectively. The Ravens threw the ball 50 times in a game that was not out of reach until the final few minutes of the game, and ran the ball just 14 times. Bernard Pierce led the Ravens with 28 rushing yards on five carries.
The entire offensive performance was abysmal for the Ravens, from blocking, running, passing, and so on. Baltimore was out-gained offensively 393 to just 222 total yards despite running the same exact number of plays as the Bengals.
The Ravens did tie the game at 17 in the third quarter courtesy of a eight yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Marlon Brown, but that would be the final time Baltimore would score.
It was seemingly the perfect ending to the season for Baltimore as yesterday's game pretty much summed up their entire season, poor offensively, show signs of improvement and then fall back into the old routine. The Ravens will have some changes to make this offseason, and there is little question that priority number one will be the offense.
Baltimore became the 15th defending Super Bowl Champion to fail to reach the playoffs the following season, and ended a streak of five consecutive playoff appearances. In addition, it will be the first time that Head Coach John Harbaugh, Ray Rice and Flacco miss the playoffs.
"That's it," coach Harbaugh said. "That ends it. That stings."
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