Final

Ravens 7

(4-4, 1-3 away)

Bengals 17

(6-2, 3-2 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, November 8, 2009

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH 

1 2 3 4 T
BAL 0 0 0 77
CIN 14 3 0 017

Top Performers

Passing: C. Palmer (CIN) - 224 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: C. Benson (CIN) - 34 CAR, 117 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: R. Rice (BAL) - 8 REC, 87 YDS

Bengals improve to 4-0 in AFC North with win

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Done with all the drama, the Bengals are grinding their way into the playoff conversation.

Walker: Bengals Are No Joke

For much of the past 18 years, the Bengals were clearly the laughingstock of the NFL. But you can stop laughing now because the 2009 Bengals are legit, writes James Walker. Blog

Cedric Benson topped 100 yards again on Sunday, and the Bengals scored on their first three possessions, setting up a 17-7 victory over Baltimore that kept surprising Cincinnati atop the AFC North and undefeated against division foes.

With a win next Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Bengals (6-2) would be in position to make the playoffs for only the second time in the past 19 years. They won the division in 2005 with a team that still had a lot to learn.

The Entertainer

Cedric Benson ran for 117 yards against the Ravens, with much of his success coming with a lead blocker lined up alongside him in the backfield.

By Personnel In Backfield
1 RB 2 RB
Rush att 22 12
Yds/rush 2.4 5.4
Rush TD 0 1
1st downs 0 4

"We're much more mature," said quarterback Carson Palmer, who improved to 8-3 career against the Ravens. "We're a better team. We were a good team back then; we were kind of young and dumb. This team has more guys that understand how rare this opportunity is."

Cincinnati would be in control of the division with a win at Pittsburgh (5-2), which plays Denver on Monday night. The Bengals are 4-0 in division games, including a two-game sweep of the Ravens (4-4).

Fast Facts

• Cedric Benson racked up 117 yards on the ground, becoming the first player to rush for 100-plus yards against the Ravens twice in one season since Jerome Bettis in 1997.

• Cincinnati swept Baltimore for the second time in three years.

• The Ravens scored their fewest points of the season.

• Joe Flacco failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season.

• Rapid Reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

"That's pretty cool," receiver Chad Ochocinco said. "I like being in the driver's seat. Today was a statement game. I want every game to be a statement game."

The Ravens have frittered away every advantage they gained by starting the season 3-0. There's been a lot of self-destruction involved -- dropped passes, missed kicks and penalties galore.

"We're not in a great spot," said Joe Flacco, who was frustrated all afternoon and threw a pair of interceptions. "We're in a tough spot."

They've been at their worst against the Bengals, who took advantage of three Ravens penalties to pull off a last-minute touchdown in Baltimore on Oct. 11, a 17-14 victory that gained national notice. By sweeping the series, Cincinnati suggested it has staying power.

"We're not surprised, we're really not," safety Chris Crocker said. "Everyone on the outside is, 'Oh, the Bengals got another one, but they'll fall apart any time.'"

They were solid throughout on Sunday.

Benson was coming off the best game of his career: 189 yards against his former Bears team, a dominating performance that sent Cincinnati into its bye on an upbeat note. Refreshed by a weekend off, he was at it again, running for 117 yards and a touchdown.

Up 17-0 at halftime, it was a matter of holding on. The Bengals did, with a lot of help from the self-destructive Ravens, who had 80 yards in penalties and missed a field goal. Their last chance slipped away when Flacco was sacked on three consecutive plays.

Last season, the Ravens went 11-5 and made the playoffs as a wild card, losing to Pittsburgh in the AFC title game. By losing four of their last five, they've made themselves a long shot to win the division.

"None of us played well," defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "They had [solid] techniques and played physical. And they are a physical team -- don't let anybody tell you they aren't."

Cincinnati scored on its first three possessions -- touchdown, touchdown, field goal -- against a defense that has struggled against the run lately, a surprising change. The Ravens hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher for 39 consecutive games, a streak that Benson broke by piling up 120 in that win at Baltimore.

Now, the Ravens have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of the last four games. They've also hurt themselves on big plays -- two pass interference penalties extended Cincinnati's second touchdown drive.

That's not all.

Ray Rice's 1-yard touchdown run cut it to 17-7 early in the fourth quarter, and the Ravens got their chance to make it close when Ed Reed stripped Chad Ochocinco after a catch at midfield. Steve Hauschka hooked a 38-yard field goal try with 6:12 left.

In the past, the Bengals would have been the ones self-destructing.

"They're not like last year, that's clear," Rice said.

Game notes


Ravens DT Haloti Ngata missed his first game because of a sprained left ankle. Coach John Harbaugh decided to make him inactive when he had trouble pushing off in pregame warmups. ... Baltimore's offense has scored 14 points in the two losses to Cincinnati. ... Bengals WR Chris Henry broke his left forearm in the second quarter, when he made a catch and was immediately tackled. He ranks sixth on the team in receiving. ... LB Keith Rivers strained his right calf in the second half and was on crutches after the game. He'll go for tests to determine the severity. ... First-round pick OT Andre Smith practiced last week but was inactive for Sunday's game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
BAL
CIN
1st Downs1620
Passing 1st downs
912
Rushing 1st downs
56
1st downs from penalties
22
3rd down efficiency
1-108-18
4th down efficiency
0-10-2
Total Plays5373
Total Yards215369
Yards per play4.15.1
Total Drives1211
Passing160223
Comp-Att
18-3220-33
Yards per pass
4.46.6
Interceptions thrown
20
Sacks-Yards Lost
4-351-1
Rushing55146
Rushing Attempts
1739
Yards per rush
3.23.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-12-3
Penalties7-806-40
Turnovers21
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
20
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession20:0040:00

Passing Leaders

BALC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Flacco18/321956.1024-35
CINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Palmer20/332246.8101-1

Rushing Leaders

BALCARYDSAVGTDLG
Rice12484.0110
Flacco231.502
CINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Benson341173.4121
Leonard3113.7011

Receiving Leaders

BALRECYDSAVGTDLG
Rice88710.9035
Mason33110.3013
CINRECYDSAVGTDLG
Coles67212.0032
Johnson56613.2021

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERBALCIN
cinTD9:02Andre Caldwell 6 Yard Pass From Carson Palmer (Shayne Graham Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 73 yds, 6:05
07
cinTD2:26Cedric Benson 1 Yard Run (Shayne Graham Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 4:44
014
SECOND QUARTERBALCIN
cinFG7:50Shayne Graham 23 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 12 plays, 75 yds, 6:58
017
FOURTH QUARTERBALCIN
balTD12:58Ray Rice 2 Yard Run (Steven Hauschka Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 65 yds, 2:43
717