Sunday is not the first time that the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens have met in the season finale with the playoffs on the line.
It is the first time, though, that the Bengals have nothing to gain from the outcome but pride.
In 2013, one year after their second Super Bowl season, the Ravens came into Cincinnati needing a win to make it to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
Instead, the Bengals rolled to a 34-17 victory that gave them the AFC North championship and a home game in the wildcard round of the playoffs. Not that it did them any good.
And the Bengals pulled off the feat in spite of another erratic performance by quarterback Andy Dalton, who completed 21 of 36 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw four interceptions.
Dalton did manage to hold it together long enough to throw touchdown passes of 53 yards to A.J. Green and 16 yards to Marvin Jones.
The only thing that saved Cincinnati on this day was that Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who was playing his second game on a sprained left knee, was even worse. Flacco completed 30 of 50 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Vontaze Burfict and Dre Kirkpatrick were the stars of the game for the Bengals. Burfict led both teams with 14 total tackles and Kirkpatrick had nine total tackles, three passes defense and two interceptions in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, one of which he returned 21 yards for a touchdown.
The four interceptions may be a bad omen for Dalton and the Bengals. Dalton also threw four interceptions in the season-opening loss to the Ravens, and has thrown four interceptions in his last three games, after going the previous six full games without an interception.
The Bengals have closer ties to the Ravens than many people realize. In fact, Cincinnati has used Baltimore as a source for many of the coaches on its current staff. Some of those connections include:
- Marvin Lewis was defensive coordinator for the Ravens from 1996 to 2001 and earned a Super Bowl ring in 2000.
- Bengals cornerback Tony McRae played for the Ravens earlier this season.
- Bengals special teams’ coordinator Darrin Simmons broke into NFL coaching with the Ravens in 1998.
- Bengals defensive line coach Jacob Burney was with Baltimore from 1996-1998.
- Bengals strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton was assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Ravens from 1999-2001.
- Bengals assistant strength and conditioning coach Jeff Friday was with the Ravens from 1999-2007.