Following an embarrassing 44-13 loss in Baltimore in Week 1 of 2012, the Bengals have gone on a roll in the series, winning five of their last six matchups, and bringing the overall head to head record to 19-20, in favor of the Ravens. A Bengals' win this Sunday would make the series even at 20 wins apiece. That's not bad for a team who trailed the series 14-19 overall just a few years ago.
Way back in Week 2 the 2-0 Bengals faced a surprisingly winless 0-2 Ravens team. Surprising, since the Ravens were a trendy pick to win the AFC North. After a close loss at Denver, and a surprising loss at Oakland with 26 seconds left on the clock, many expected the Ravens to return to Maryland and hand the Bengals their first loss of the season. And several times, in their back and forth Week 3 matchup, that's exactly what it looked like would happen.
Week 3: Bengals win a wild one, 28-24
Thanks to a Joe Flacco interception, and a rare Justin Tucker missed field goal attempt, the Bengals held a 14-0 lead at halftime. But that lead quickly evaporated once Steve Smith decided that despite being on the verge of retirement, he was going to put up one of the best games of his distinguished career.
Looking to take a three score lead, the Bengals drove down to the Ravens' 10 yard line before a Tyler Eifert touchdown catch was ruled not a catch or a touchdown and Andy Dalton's pass attempt for A.J. Green was intercepted in the end zone. On the ensuing drive, Steve Smith accounted for 82 yards on three receptions, including a 50 yard touchdown reception.
The Bengals' defense responded with a three-and-out, and this time Tucker hit his field goal attempt, and the Ravens had cut the lead to 14-10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
A couple drives later, Elvis Dumervil sacked Dalton, which led to a fumble, which was returned 41 yards for a Ravens' touchdown, and a 17-14 lead, following 17 unanswered points.
On the next offensive play, the Bengals came right back with an 80 yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Green. But the lead only lasted for a couple minutes, before Steve Smith continued his single-handed destruction of the Bengals' defense, scoring on a 16 yard touchdown pass, giving the Ravens the lead back, at 24-21.
Again, the Bengals had to come back and take the lead. And again they did. Dalton connected with Green on a seven yard touchdown score, giving the Bengals a 28-24 lead with just over two minutes remaining.
On the ensuing drive, the Ravens faced a fourth and three, when Steve Smith came up big with a four yard completion for a first down. But... the Ravens were flagged for a 15 yard facemask penalty, negating the first down. The fourth and 17 pass fell incomplete, and the Bengals held on for a wild 28-24 victory. The win also sent the Ravens to 0-3 for the first time in franchise history.
Week 17: Can the Bengals win their 5th Straight, and even the series at 20 wins apiece?
Despite a 5-10 record, the Ravens were competitors this season, losing eight of their first 12 games of the season by single digits.To be so close in all 12 of their games to start the season isn't bad for a team who has lost roughly an entire starting lineup worth of players to Injured Reserve. Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith, Justin Forsett, Matt Elam, Chris Canty, and Eugene Monroe represent only a portion of the 18 players the Ravens have lost this season.
Following a pair of ugly home losses to the Seahawks and Chiefs, the injuries and lost season seemed to have finally caught up with the Ravens as they entered the final two games of the season. But tell that to the Steelers who they defeated last Sunday, completing the season sweep against the AFC North goe, and pushing them to the brink of playoff elimination.
The Ravens still have some fight in them, even if they are reduced to starting Ryan Mallett at quarterback, throwing to the undrafted Jeremy Butler and Chris Matthews as well as a handful of other little-known players.