On the first play following the game's two minute warning, the Bengals line up on the Ravens 32-yard line with a six-point deficit. Carson Palmer takes the shotgun snap, only needing two yards on third down to pick up the first down. He looks for an open receiver, sees the line open up and tucks the football. Palmer runs. Remember 2009 when Palmer scrambled for several first downs, sustaining game winning drives? The only difference this year is that a scrambling Palmer picks up the first down and electing to dive, Palmer loses the football and the Ravens recover it.
With 1:51 left in the game, the Baltimore Ravens run the ball twice with the Bengals using their final timeouts after each play setting up a third-and-one with 1:38 left in the game. Ray Rice gets the handoff and Keith Rivers prevents him from picking up the first down, forcing the Ravens to punt. After a false start that stopped the clock at 55 seconds, the Bengals get the ball back at their own 31-yard line.
On first down, Palmer finds Andre Caldwell running a vertical route down the sidelines on the right, beating the Ravens secondary and picking up 39 yards. With the ball at the Ravens 30-yard line and 38 seconds left, Palmer hits Jerome Simpson down the right sidelines for another 19 yard gain giving Simpson 12 receptions and 123 yards receiving on the day. After hitting Andre Caldwell over the middle to the two-yard line, Palmer spikes the football to stop the clock. After a throwing a fade to the back right pylon to Caldwell, the Bengals are forced to go for it on fourth down with 16 seconds left in the game.
Palmer takes the shotgun snap, scrambles in the pocket and finds Cedric Peerman out of the backfield in the left flats. Palmer overthrows Peerman, who could have had a great shot at scoring the game-winning touchdown. Game over.
The Bengals offense recorded 395 yards of total offense with Carson Palmer completing 32 of 45 passes for 305 yards passing. Twelve of Palmer's passes went Jerome Simpson who recorded 123 yards receiving, scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati dominated the Ravens with 34:42 on time of possession, doubled their first downs, tripled the passing yardage and forced Baltimore to only convert two third down opportunities.
Yet, in the end, the Bengals turned the ball over five times in the game; two interceptions and a fumble by Palmer and two fumbles by Simpson, losing the game by six points to a team that won 12 games, headed to the playoffs. Same story all season. Bengals find ways to lose.
Even though the offense turned the ball over five times, the Bengals defense handled the Ravens offense. Joe Flacco only recorded 125 yards on 14 completions with an interception. Ray Rice ran the ball 20 times and only recorded 77 yards rushing. In all, the Ravens recorded 199 yards of total offense and only picked up 10 yards.
The Bengals end their 2010 season at 4-12 while the 12-4 Ravens head to the playoffs as a wild card after Pittsburgh dominated the Browns 41-9.
What can you say? Sunday's loss showed highlighted many of the team's positives over the past few games, such as:
- In the past two games, Jerome Simpson has combined for 18 receptions for 247 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
- Andre Caldwell finished the season with 270 yards receiving over his previous three games, including a 94-yard receiving performance against the Baltimore Ravens.
- Carlos Dunlap finished the season with 9.5 quarterback sacks, setting the franchise record for most sacks by a rookie. Dunlap finished the season recording at least a shared sack in six straight games.
- Michael Johnson recorded seven tackles (tied for the team lead) and a quarterback sack.
- Geno Atkins added pressure up the middle on passing downs often forced the quarterback out of the pocket.
- With Jermaine Gresham sitting out, Chase Coffman stepped up picking up 30 yards receiving on three receptions.
What are your thoughts to Sunday's loss and the season as a whole?