The Cincinnati Bengals secured their 12th win of the season -- something they've only done twice in franchise history -- during Sunday's 24-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens. They join the 1981 and 1988 squads as the only a Bengals teams to get to 12 wins, those two previous 12-win teams were the only in franchise history to make it to the Super Bowl.
Now, Cincinnati is scoreboard watching, hoping for a massive upset by the Chargers over the Broncos, which would secure a first-round bye for Cincinnati. At the very least, the Bengals can't fall below the No. 3 seed, which would mean hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers during the Wild Card round.
Sunday's win started as a sloppy affair.
Penalties stalled possessions early, such as offensive holds by Clint Boling and Russell Bodine, setting the stage for a second and 30 situation -- despite a Marvin Jones 23-yard reception, AJ McCarron was sacked during the ensuing play and the Bengals were forced to punt. It was lackadaisical, as if waking from a sleepness night with crusty sleep rolling out of the corners of heavy eyes.
During the first four offensive possessions, Cincinnati was forced to punt.
Then with 4:55 remaining in the second quarter, AJ McCarron, with help from a pass interference from the Ravens, engineered an eight-play drive that began from their own 19-yard line and resulted in a 21-yard touchdown to tight end Tyler Eifert. Baltimore reclaimed a halftime lead on a Justin Tucker 49-yard field goal, concluding an impressive two minute possession that spanned 55 yards on 10 plays.
Regardless, the Bengals began to ran away with the game.
During the first possession of the third quarter, linebacker Vontaze Burfict horizontally aligned his body over the ground with geometric precision, intercepting Ryan Mallett with 14:01 remaining in the third. Five plays later, with a pair of amazing receptions by A.J. Green, Cincinnati took a 14-9 lead with 11:22 remaining in the third.
Following a turnover on downs that gave Cincinnati the football at their own 38-yard line, the Bengals smelt blood and dug their heels into the turf. Eventually, Cincinnati elected to go for it on fourth down with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter, from the Ravens' 38-yard line. Following an excellent Jack Fisher block out of the backfield, Hill instinctively bounced outside and leaned toward the right sidelines before diving over the front right pylon to give Cincinnati a 21-9 lead.
The touchdown was Hill's 11th rushing touchdown and 12th overall this season.