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Ravens can’t recover from Bengals’ dominant 1st half

September 14, 2018
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Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) chases down Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) before completing the sack in the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

CINCINNATI (AP) — By the time the Ravens figured out what they needed to do, they were too far behind and their streak of five straight Thursday night wins was tottering.

A second-half comeback wasn’t nearly enough as the Cincinnati Bengals held on for a 34-23 victory, riding a dominant start led by Andy Dalton’s four touchdown passes.

“You better bounce back quick on a Thursday night and we didn’t do it quick enough tonight,” quarterback Joe Flacco said.

The Ravens (1-1) were coming off one of their most impressive games, a 47-3 win over Buffalo that was the third-largest margin of victory in franchise history. Flacco was on target while playing little more than a half, throwing three touchdown passes.

The Bengals (2-0) didn’t let him get into a rhythm until Cincinnati led by three touchdowns. Flacco was sacked on each of Baltimore’s first three possessions, and he forced a throw that was picked off, setting up the first of Dalton’s three touchdown passes to A.J. Green.

Cincinnati built its 21-point lead by piling up 151 yards and 11 first downs. By comparison, the Ravens had only 27 yards and one first down during that span.

By that time, the Ravens were in deep trouble. They’ve overcome a 21-point deficit to win a game only once in their history, beating the Arizona Cardinals 30-27 in 2011.

Flacco threw a pair of touchdown passes, including a 21-yarder to John Brown that cut it to 28-23 with 9:35 left. He also fumbled with 2:42 to go — Shawn Williams stripped the ball from behind — setting up a field goal by Randy Bullock that closed it out.

Flacco finished 32 of 55 for 376 yards with two touchdowns , two interceptions and four sacks.

It wasn’t only the offense that had major issues early. The defense allowed Dalton to go 9 of 14 for 121 yards while leading Cincinnati to a 21-0 lead, throwing TD passes to Green on three consecutive possessions. The Ravens switched up their coverages on Green but couldn’t stop him.

“We did all that and he still made some great plays,” coach John Harbaugh said.

The Ravens played most of the night without linebacker C.J. Mosley, who bruised his knee in the first quarter. Harbaugh said an exam found no ligament damage, but the linebacker could be sidelined for a while. His replacements struggled at times.

“They fought and played hard, but they didn’t play perfect,” Harbaugh said.

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