National Football League

           === Late interception return lifts Bengals over Ravens ===
 Cincinnati,  OH  (Sports Network) -  Josh Brown kicked three second-half field
 goals  and Carlos  Dunlap returned an interception for a touchdown late in the
 fourth  quarter as the Cincinnati Bengals closed out the regular season with a
 23-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
 Andy  Dalton  completed 10-of-15  passes for  78 yards  and a touchdown before
 getting  removed in  favor of  Bruce  Gradkowski in  the second  half for  the
 Bengals  (10-6), who had  already locked up the sixth seed in the playoffs and
 will  face the Houston Texans Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (et) in the first round of
 the playoffs.
 "The  biggest  thing is we wanted  to get the win  and we got that done," said
 Dalton. "We're 10-6 but all that doesn't matter anymore. It's playoff time and
 records don't matter."
 Marvin  Jones recorded  Cincinnati's lone  offensive touchdown  while catching
 five balls for 45 yards.
 Joe  Flacco started the  game for the Ravens (10-6) but was removed after just
 two offensive series.
 Tyrod Taylor replaced him and threw for 149 yards with the interception on 15-
 for-25 efficiency while also adding 65 yards and a score on nine carries.
 Bernard  Pierce  carried the ball  22 times for  89 yards for Baltimore, which
 rested  most of its  starters as they already had the AFC's fourth seed locked
 up entering the game.
 The  Ravens had a chance to move up to the third seed with a win, but will now
 host  the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at 1 p.m. (et) in the opening round of the
 "I  thought  our young  guys executed  very well,"  Ravens coach John Harbaugh
 said.  "The goal  was two-fold, to put ourselves in the best position possible
 going  forward into the  playoffs and to win the game. We obviously didn't win
 the  game.  We're disappointed in  that, but  we feel like  we are in the best
 position we could have been going forward into the playoffs now and that's all
 that really matters."
 Gradkowski  entered  the game  with the score  tied at 7-7  and a roughing the
 passer penalty on his second possession moved the Bengals past midfield to set
 up Brown's 47-yard field goal with 6:15 remaining in the third quarter.
 Cincinnati  regained the ball at the Baltimore 40 after the Ravens were forced
 to  punt  from deep inside  their own zone,  and a defensive pass interference
 penalty on the Ravens' Jimmy Smith advanced the ball to the 15.
 The Bengals would not be able to punch the ball into the end zone, though, and
 a 32-yard kick by Brown gave the Bengals a 13-7 advantage late in the third.
 Baltimore  was then aided by a pass interference penalty to regain the lead on
 its  next  touch as  Nate  Clements  was whistled  for  the  infraction on  an
 incomplete pass on a 3rd-and-7 at the Ravens 22.
 The  penalty  moved the ball  near midfield and  Taylor later converted a long
 third  down with  an 11-yard  strike to  Ed Dickson  before finishing  off the
 11-play,  81-yard trek  with a 1-yard touchdown  run on a bootleg to the left,
 giving Baltimore a 14-13 edge with 12:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.
 The  Ravens failed to  add some cushion to their lead on their next possession
 when Justin Tucker missed a 45-yard field goal wide left, and Gradkowski found
 Brandon  Tate deep down the right sideline for a 44-yard gain on the next play
 to move Cincinnati down to the Baltimore 21.
 But  the Bengals would  manage just one more yard and Brown split the uprights
 from 38 yards out to regain a 16-14 lead with 7:16 to play.
 Three  plays into the Ravens' ensuing drive, Dunlap tipped a short Taylor pass
 to  himself  and returned  it 14  yards for a  touchdown, giving Cincinnati an
 eight-point edge.
 Ravens  punter Sam Koch kept Baltimore's next drive alive by converting a 4th-
 and-1  with a 10-yard  run on a fake punt and Taylor later converted a pair of
 third downs on the march, but the Ravens opted to kick a 49-yard field goal on
 a  4th-and-6 at the  Cincinnati 31 with 1:26 left in the game instead of going
 for the tie.
 The Bengals recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the victory.
 Baltimore  received the ball first and converted a 4th-and-1 at the Cincinnati
 33 with a 3-yard run by Pierce during a lengthy drive, but the Ravens would go
 backwards  from there and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Ray Rice knocked
 them out of field-goal range, forcing Baltimore to punt.
 Flacco  played  one more series  for the Ravens  before Taylor took over under
 center for the Ravens.
 On  Taylor's  first offensive drive,  the second-year quarterback reeled off a
 28-yard  scramble  on his  only passing  attempt of  a 7-play, 80-yard scoring
 drive  Anthony Allen capped  with a 2-yard rumble across the goal line with 17
 seconds left in the first quarter.
 The  Bengals were later able to get on the board after starting a drive at the
 Baltimore  42-yard line with  2:07 left in the half following a Koch punt from
 deep inside his own end zone.
 Dalton then found A.J. Green for gains of 17 and 9 yards before Jones caught a
 short  pass, avoided two  defenders and raced into the end zone for an 11-yard
 touchdown, making it a 7-7 game at the break.
 The  Bengals had managed just 63 yards of offense and three first downs in the
 first half prior to that drive.
                                   Game Notes
 Allen  and  Jones each recorded their  first career touchdowns ... The Bengals
 have  scored a  defensive touchdown  in  three straight  games ...  Cincinnati
 snapped a four-game losing streak against Baltimore, but still trails the all-
 time  series,  19-15 ... Green  finished with two  receptions for 26 yards ...
 Gradkowski  completed 5-of-11  passes for  65 yards  ... The  Bengals' defense
 recorded  four  sacks in  the game  and finished the  season with a franchise-
 best 51 sacks ... Baltimore held a 352-189 advantage in total offense.
 12/30 21:28:31 ET

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