It started well.
On the game's opening kickoff, Cedric Peerman drove his blocker into Baltimore's Jacoby Jones, who had only reached the Ravens 23-yard line. Brandon Thompson tripped up Ray Rice in the backfield and Dallas Clark dropped the third down pass, forcing the Ravens to punt. BenJarvus Green-Ellis pounded the football for six yards on Cincinnati's opening possession of the game, and the Bengals picked up a first down on a quick seven-yard hitch to A.J. Green.
Eventually the Bengals reached the Ravens 47-yard line with 11:18 remaining in the first quarter. It was fourth down. The mission: Gain one yard. The call: Quarterback sneak. The result: Mission failed. Baltimore's defensive front won the leverage war and Dalton had no where to go, falling half-a-yard short of the first down.
And everything went down-hill in a hurry.
On the next play, Ray Rice underhanded the ball back to Joe Flacco to complete the flea-flicker. Flacco looked downfield and targeted Jacoby Jones, who crushed Cincinnati's coverage.
With help from the wind, the ball was severely underthrown and Nelson, trying to recover at full-speed from being burnt, didn't turn around and did the age old, run through him to prevent the touchdown and reception, move. Unfortunately the officials called a defensive pass interference at the Bengals five-yard line.
Three plays later, the Ravens took a 7-0 lead with 9:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Cincinnati's offense responded with an eight-play drive but a delay of game penalty on third down put Cincinnati into an 11-yard to go scenario. By this point, Cincinnati had more penalty yards (53) than yards on offense (39). Kevin Huber punts the football to the Ravens 28-yard line.
The Ravens opening play on the possession went 18 yards when Torrey Smith easily outpaced Adam Jones on a crossing route to their own 43-yard line. A Bernard Pierce four-yard gain and a Chris Crocker face mask put Baltimore on Cincinnati's 38-yard line to eventually convert a field goal to take a 10-0 lead with 4:43 remaining in the first. Then with 7:33 remaining, the Ravens extended their lead 17-0 after Andy Dalton's interception gave way to a Joe Flacco touchdown through from the Bengals seven yard line.
"We had to fight back into the football game," said head coach Marvin Lewis this week. "I can remember at halftime kind of calming the troops down and refocusing for the second half. With the aid of the Hail Mary we were able to get the ball game tied back up. That’s the thing, we have to get off to a good start. We can’t allow explosive plays, can’t turn the football over and can’t allow plays on special teams."
Indeed the Bengals fought.
Once Baltimore lead 17-0 midway into the second quarter, they wouldn't score again until overtime. Cincinnati added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including an improbable Hail Mary that sent the game into overtime.