Bengals beat Ravens 27-10 for 5th time in a row at home
CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton completed his first 10 passes, one of them for a touchdown, and the Bengals were on their way to another home victory over a division rival.
And then? An uncomfortably long offseason.
Dalton was sharp early, and Rex Burkhead ran for a pair of touchdowns on Sunday and Cincinnati beat Baltimore 27-10 on Sunday for its fifth straight win at home over the Ravens.
The Bengals (6-9-1) missed out on the playoffs for the first time in six years, and haven’t won a playoff game in 26 years, the sixth-longest streak in NFL history. Coach Marvin Lewis — 0-7 in the postseason — says he’ll return in 2017.
“It’s weird sitting up here after winning the last game and not going to the playoffs,” said Dalton , who had made the postseason in each of his first five NFL seasons.
Dalton was 18 of 28 for 226 yards. He topped 4,000 yards passing for the second time in his career, finishing with 4,206. The other time was 2013, when he set a club record with 4,293 yards.
“To me, he has had his best season,” Lewis said. “Unfortunately, as a team we haven’t.”
Baltimore (8-8) failed to reach the playoffs for the third time in four years. The Ravens played their final game with an emotional hangover from a last-minute loss at Pittsburgh last Sunday that eliminated them.
“For whatever reason — it’s hard to put your finger on it — our emotional level was not where it’s been in the past, and I think it has a lot to do with what happened last week,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It was definitely our worst game of the year as far as the way we played.”
Ravens receiver Steve Smith caught three passes for 34 yards in what he’s called the final game of his remarkable career. The 37-year-old receiver reiterated after the game that he plans to retire.
Smith has 51 games with 100 yards receiving, tied for fourth most in NFL history.
“The pressure I have now is getting the kids to school on time,” said Smith , still dressed in his silver and purple cleats and uniform pants. “Do I eat a pint of ice cream or a gallon of ice cream?”
The AFC North sent more teams to the playoffs than any other division over the past eight seasons, but had only one team with a winning record this time — the champion Steelers.
The Ravens gave up three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter of their 31-27 elimination loss to Pittsburgh, and two more in the first quarter on Sunday. The Bengals pulled ahead 20-3 before halftime.
Baltimore’s Justin Tucker had a 30-yard field goal, his 38th of the season, matching his club record. Only two kickers have made 40 field goals in a season — David Akers and Neil Rackers. ... Joe Flacco was 32 of 49 for 267 yards with an interception in the end zone. He finished with 4,276 yards, topping Vinny Testaverde’s club record of 4,177 yards in 1996. Asked if the record meant anything to him, Flacco said, “Not really.”
BURKHEAD’S BIG DAY
With their top two running backs hurt, the Bengals turned to Burkhead, who hadn’t carried more than nine times in a game until the past two weeks. He finished with 119 yards on 27 carries.
“I kind of got in a zone,” said Burkhead, a four-year player from Nebraska. “It took me back to my younger days.”
Bengals: Running back Jeremy Hill was inactive with a knee injury after being listed as questionable. The Bengals already were missing receiver A.J. Green, tight end Tyler Eifert, running back Giovani Bernard, tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and guard Clint Boling. ... Linebacker Vontaze Burfict also was out with a concussion.
The Ravens have 12 potential free agents, including Smith and backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, who played the final series on Sunday and threw an interception.
The Bengals have 15 potential free agents, including Burkhead, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
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