Last week, the Ravens beat the Browns, 20-10, to improve to 11-4 on the season. With this win, the Ravens clinch a playoff berth, making Joe Flacco the fourth QB in NFL history to make the playoffs in his first three seasons. This is also the third consecutive season that the Ravens have swept the season series against the lowly Browns. The Browns did open up this game on top though, and after they got the Ravens scrambling on a trick play, receiver Mohamed Massaquoi threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie. After a Cundiff field goal, Joe Flacco threw a 15 yard strike to T.J. Houshmandzadeh to put the Ravens on top. This score made it 10 straight games with a touchdown pass for Flacco, the longest streak of his career. Flacco also surpassed the 10,000 career passing yard mark early on in the game. At the end of the second quarter, Cundiff and Browns K Phil Dawson each hit field goals, from 40 and 30 yards respectively. This gave the Ravens a 13-10 lead heading into the half. The final score of the game was a 22-yard floater from Flacco to Derrick Mason, the first second-half offensive touchdown for the Ravens in six games. Ed Reed came up with two key interceptions for the Ravens, his 10th career multi-INT game. Reed and the Ravens are 10-0 when Reed picks off the QB twice. The Ravens also forced two other turnovers, a Lardarius Webb INT and a fumble that lead to the Houshmandzadeh touchdown.
Player of the Game: Ravens S Ed Reed-2 tackles, 2 interceptions
This Sunday, the Ravens will close out the regular season at home against the 4-11 Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens already control the 5th seed in the AFC, but a win coupled with a Steelers loss to the Browns gives the Ravens the 2nd seed along with a first-round bye and a division title. The Ravens met the Bengals back in Week 2, a game Joe Flacco would like to forget, as he threw four interceptions en route to a 15-10 loss. But Flacco has thrown just four interceptions since throwing four back in Week 2, and only one all season at home. The Bengals have actually begun to heat up over the past few weeks without the distractions of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco both on and off the field. Even with a lack of receivers to throw to, Carson Palmer has found a way to win receivers like Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson creating big plays. The Ravens defense also needs to look out for RB Cedric Benson, who has a history of tearing them up. The Bengals have a lot of veteran talent on the defensive side of the ball, but rookie DE Carlos Dunlap leads the team with 8 sacks, and could be a force off the end Sunday. In a bit of a revenge game, I have the Ravens winning, 24-13.
Key Matchups for Bengals at Ravens
Ravens LB Ray Lewis vs. Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham Edge: Lewis
Ravens LB Jarret Johnson vs. Bengals RB Cedric Benson Edge: Benson
Ravens RT Marshal Yanda vs. Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap Edge: Dunlap
Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Bengals secondary Edge: Even
LB Tavares Gooden-Shoulder-OUT
S Tom Zbikowski-Back-OUT
TE Todd Heap-Thigh-QST
WR David Reed-Wrist/Head-QST
WR Chad Ochocinco-Ankle-OUT
TE Jermaine Gresham-Knee-DBT
CB Johnathan Joseph-Ankle-QST
LB Dan Skuta-Back-QST
AFC North Standings
Team W L GB
Steelers 11 4 --
Ravens 11 4 --
Browns 5 10 6
Bengals 4 11 7
AFC North Outlook: The Steelers can win the division with a win in Cleveland against the Browns. But if the Steelers lose, and the Ravens take care of business, the Ravens take the division, plus the #2 seed, and the Steelers will fall to the #6 seed below the Jets. If both the Ravens and Steelers win, the Ravens would hold the #5 seed, and most likely travel to Indianapolis to play to Colts.
That's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and Go Ravens!