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Flashback: Bengals Defense Forces Four Interceptions In 15-10 Win Over The Baltimore Ravens

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We featured last week a flashback on Cincinnati's 34-20 win over the San Diego Chargers in 2010. Not only was it the Bengals best win of the year, it promoted a future that fans could actually be excited about. Jerome Simpson exploded, as did Andre Caldwell in his own way. How could you not be excited? The Bengals, who only sported three wins at the time, eliminated the Chargers from the playoffs. This was our annual "Wreck Your Team" game; a Bengals win that has lasting affects on the opposing team's playoff chances.

Yet, the Bengals second week win over the Baltimore Ravens was just as satisfying. Keep in mind, at the time the Bengals had no momentum. Cincinnati lost three of their final four regular season games in 2009, capped by a 24-14 loss to the New York Jets in the opening round of the playoffs. New England promptly punished the Bengals 38-24 during the 2010 regular season opener and there was just a feeling of loss, displacement and perhaps confusion; who the hell was this team?

They did have something going for them. Riding a seven-game winning streak against the AFC North, the Bengals came into the September 19th game having beaten Baltimore in eight of their previous 11 meetings. And the fans knew it, with Paul Brown Stadium fired up in the seconds preceding the game's opening kickoff. We're just crazy bastards, fired up for anything.

During the opening drive, after Cedric Benson turned the corner off the left edge with a four-yard gain, Carson Palmer dropped back with a double tight end formation. After a pump-fake over the middle, the franchise quarterback finds tight end Jermaine Gresham sitting in the middle without a defender within five yards. Palmer expected Gresham to turn inward, rather than hooking the route, throwing it wide right. An illegal substitution later, Palmer finds Reggie Kelly sneaking out of the backfield to pick up nine yards, forcing the Bengals to punt with two yards to go on fourth. This was the basic summary of the Bengals offense early against the Ravens, punting on their first two possessions with only one first down.

Bengals Draw First Blood: Cincinnati's offense finally picked up the pace with just over six minutes left in the first quarter on their own 28-yard line. On second down, following an incomplete pass on a screen to the right, Palmer hits Chad Ochocinco in stride on a short five-yard in-route. With enough separation, Chad takes it up-field picking up nine yards setting up a third-and-one. Benson converts it on a power run to the left; thanks to a great block by Andrew Whitworth to seal the edge.

On second and four, following a short six-yard high percentage pass to Owens, Palmer hands off to Cedric Benson. The offensive line steps right with Kyle Cook pulling, chipping the defensive end while taking out Ray Lewis in the process; experts called that play, "awesome". Benson found a slight hole between Dennis Roland and Cook on the right, bursting through the line, only to fall after stumbling. If there's one frustrating thing about Benson, it's his lack of stability when he gets knocked sideways. When he stumbles, he's eventually going down. The Bengals picked up their final first down with just under three minutes left in the first quarter. Chad Ochocinco and Jordan Shipley lined up wide left, with Terrell Owens and Jermaine Gresham wide right. Chad and Owens run deep fade routes while Gresham and Shipley sharply turn out. Palmer hits Shipley for an 11-yard gain. After two incomplete passes to Terrell Owens and a no-gain run by Cedric Benson (not in that order), the Bengals stall and convert the game's first points on a 36-yard Mike Nugent field goal.

Interception #1: The real storyline to Cincinnati's win over the Ravens was the defense's four interceptions. They led to points, stalled drives and largely won Cincinnati the game.

With 13:32 left in the second quarter, the Baltimore Ravens offense posted exactly zero passing yards at this point. With four yards to go on third down at Baltimore's 37-yard line, Anquan Boldin lined up wide left. The Bengals rush four, play Cover One zone with Adam Jones attached to Boldin's hip. Flacco tries to hit Boldin on your typical slant. Jones cut off Boldin's route, picking off the pass for the game's first interception. Cincinnati would take a 6-0 lead on Nugent's second field goal of the game.

Both teams exchanged punts to end the first half that felt more like a pitcher's dual.

Ravens Take The Lead On Derrick Mason's 31-Yard Touchdown. With 11:53 left in the third quarter, the Ravens line up at Cincinnati's 31-yard line with eight yards to go on third down. There's no doubt Baltimore had second half moment and it showed here with a Ray Rice seven-yard run and Flacco completions of 17 and 19 yards to tight ends Ed Dickson and Todd Heap respectively.

Derrick Mason lined up wide right. Johnathan Joseph covering. Mason faked an in-route with Joseph biting just enough that allowed Mason's vertical route to unmolested. Flacco noticed Mason's step and put air underneath his throw, allowing the receiver to sprint underneath the pass to complete the 31-yard touchdown reception.

The Ravens take a 7-6 lead early in the third quarter.

At this point the Bengals are reeling. Carson Palmer fumbles the possession's opening snap and (luckily) recovered quickly enough to get off a pass to Chad Ochocinco for a first down. No more first downs and the Bengals punt.

Interception #2: Baltimore still appears to have momentum. Setting up at midfield with 12 yards to go on third down, Joe Flacco takes the shotgun snap with 7:59 left in the third quarter. Fans at Paul Brown Stadium are on their feet, waving anything they can get their hands on, hoping to disrupt the Ravens offense (you know, like any opposing third down).

Flacco drops back, feels the pressure from Frostee Rucker and Geno Atkins and throws a duck over the middle that came miles short of any intended target. Leon Hall cut off the pass that should have been intercepted by Dhani Jones. This time the Bengals failed to capitalize, going three and out on the tail-end of consecutive incomplete passes from Carson Palmer.

Interception #3: Cincinnati's Mike Nugent converted his fourth field goal of the game, giving the Bengals a two-point lead with only 4:38 left in the game. Baltimore, of course, had plenty of time to safely drive down the field, taking care of the football. Luckily for the Bengals, that's exactly what they didn't do.

On first down, Flacco heaves heaves a deep pass down the right sidelines to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Joseph broke up the pass and limped off the field -- a reoccurring theme all season.

Determined to produce an even worse result than an incomplete pass, Flacco takes the shotgun snap with an empty backfield. The route is simple; the slot receiver curling out two yards beyond the line of scrimmage, a high-percentage throw if you will. And by high-percentage, we really mean having absolutely no shot in hell of being completed to a Ravens receiver after Pat Sims swatted the pass into the air. Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson out-positioned Todd Heap and caught the deflected pass at the Ravens own 24-yard line. Nugent would covert his fifth field goal of the day to give the Bengals a 15-10 lead.

Interception #4: Just over two minutes remain in the fourth quarter. Baltimore creeps up to the line of scrimmage, solemn of a possible loss suffered at the hands of the Bengals; not like they haven't experienced it before. Laughingly not realizing that suffering the loss against a team that would only go on to win three more, Flacco sits in shotgun on fourth down with seven yards needed for a first.

Flacco looks over the middle. Feeling the pressure from Antwan Odom, Flacco moves up in the pocket and throws it deep over the middle with Derrick Mason as his target. If Mason were 8'5" and running a 3.8 40-yard dash, the throw would have been perfect. Instead Chinedum Ndukwe hauled in the poorly thrown pass for the defense's fourth interception of the game just as we entered the two minute warning.

Repercussions: Mike Nugent and the Bengals defense led the Bengals to a 15-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens, their eighth straight meeting against the AFC North dating back to 2008. The following week Cincinnati defeats the Carolina Panthers 20-7, giving them a winning record in 2010. At least for a week. Then the Bengals would go on a ten-game losing streak, finally winning on December 19, a full three months after beating the Baltimore Ravens.