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Bengals beat Ravens, 27-10 boosted by big day from Rex Burkhead

It was a pretty prototypical outing for the Bengals, but Cincinnati managed to pull out a win this time, starting off 2017 on a high note.

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Bengals got off to a quick start on Sunday before the offense began to stall in the second half. Cincinnati secured a victory, and while the win could potentially bump the Bengals back in the 2017 NFL Draft order, it’s still a win over a division foe and should provide a good feeling for the team to end the season with.

A quick start, in which the Bengals scored on their first four possessions, helped Cincinnati jump out to a 20-3 lead over the Ravens. Rex Burkhead, who scored on a five-yard touchdown run to open up the scoring, seemed to make plays every time he touched the ball. He received a lot a lot of attention for his efforts, and rightfully so. The back, finally given a chance to make plays, was a playmaker. Entering the offseason with the lowest cap hit of any running back hitting free agency, Burkhead will likely be rewarded for his efforts not just on Sunday but throughout the past few weeks.

Andy Dalton, however, was even better, completing his first 10 passes, throwing a touchdown to C.J. Uzomah and helping the Bengals put together four drives of at least 50 yards on as many possessions, against a sneaky dominant Ravens defense at that. This Ravens defense was at one point this season the No. 1 defense in the league, but they looked nothing of the sort for the first half on Sunday. A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Clint Boling, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard were all out on Sunday, but that didn’t matter, as the Bengals’ quarterback couldn’t seem to do any wrong, connecting passes all over the field against a Ravens secondary that appeared to already be on vacation. In the first half, Dalton was 10-for-10 on throws, before throwing his first two incompletions of the day.

Cincinnati’s defense made some plays as well. The most memorable of the first half came when Shawn Williams, flagged earlier on a drive for a hit on a defenseless Steve Smith Sr. (though, it was incorrectly credited to Kirkpatrick), picked off Joe Flacco in the end zone, a play that not only took points off the board for Baltimore but also led to points being added onto the board by Cincinnati. The Bengals defense hit Flacco five times in the first half, sacking him twice. The defense would add one more sack later on with Wallace Gilberry tallying one, Carlos Dunlap adding one and Geno Atkins and Pat Sims sharing another.

Rookie linebacker Nick Vigil had an up-and-down game, but his progress has been evident, a great sign for Paul Guenther and the future of the Bengals’ defense. While Vigil missed a couple of tackles here and there and was also clearly a guy the Ravens were trying to attack — Dennis Pitta was targeted 16 times — Vigil still managed to made a few great plays, including a fourth-down pass breakup late in the third quarter in the red zone.

We also saw a few more young players step up, one being rookie corner KeiVarae Russell, who picked off a Ryan Mallett pass in garbage time. Cody Core also made a few plays here and there, ending Sunday’s game with a team-high 82 yards on four catches.

A late Ravens score, coming on a one-yard Kenneth Dixon run, made things a little interesting, but the Bengals quickly came back and secured the victory. A five-yard Burkhead touchdown run, his second of the game, put the nail in the coffin, securing the Bengals’ first victory of the 2017 calendar year. The back finished Sunday’s action with 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, with Ryan Hewitt playing a prominent role as a lead-blocker throughout. Burkhead’s late-season success should earn him a nice contract in the upcoming offseason, and hopefully, that contract will come from the Bengals.

Even with the Bengals’ win today, there’s a chance victories by other teams, like the Cardinals, could propel the Bengals forward in the NFL Draft order.