The Ravens capped their difficult season with a fifth-straight loss to the Bengals, falling 24-16 in Cincinnati.
Baltimore put up another fight, and led at halftime, but the Bengals scored 17 straight points out of halftime and on two consecutive possessions to take command of the game.
Baltimore finished the year with a 5-11 record, its second-worst mark in franchise history. Sunday's game marked the Ravens' ninth loss of the season by one score or less.
Playing a second-straight game with their fourth quarterback of the season, Ryan Mallett, Baltimore's offense didn't find the end zone until there were less than two minutes left.
The defense played well for much of the day, including holding the Bengals without a single third-down conversion. But the unit uncharacteristically had trouble stopping the run as the Bengals ate up the clock in the fourth quarter.
Bengals running back Jeremy Hill rushed 16 times for 96 yards and a game-changing 38-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter. Cincinnati rushed for 145 total yards.
Mallett played well for much of the day, but threw a costly interception at the start of the second half and ended the game with a second pick. Mallett threw the ball a whopping 56 times, partly because the Ravens trailed for much of the second half, and completed just 30 of those passes for 292 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
While their AFC North rivals Bengals and Steelers punched their tickets to the playoffs, the Ravens now move into a pivotal offseason as they look to prove the 2015 season was an aberration.
Turning Point Of The Game
The Ravens led, 9-7, at the end of the first half, and had the ball first out of the locker room. That's when Mallett made his first big mistake in two starts. Mallett threw an out pass intended for running back Javorius Allen. The only problem was that linebacker Vontaze Burfict made a diving interception. Five plays later, the Bengals marched down the field for a touchdown to take a lead they never relinquished.
- The Ravens nearly took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter when wide receiver Jeremy Butler caught a screen pass and weaved his way through traffic for a 32-yard touchdown. The play was reversed, however, when it was ruled that the ball hit the ground first. The Ravens settled for a 50-yard field goal to take a 6-0 lead.
- Cincinnati quickly responded. Safety Will Hill was called for a 23-yard defensive pass interference penalty and Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron hit tight end Tyler Eifert for a 22-yard touchdown on a tightly-contested play.
- Mallett moved the Ravens back down the field at the end of the first half. Tucker hit another long field goal, this time from 49 yards out, to give the Ravens a 9-7 lead at the break.
- Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green didn't put up huge yardage, but he made the Ravens pay after Mallett's interception. Green made a spectacular catch on a jump ball against cornerback Shareece Wright for a 5-yard touchdown to put the Bengals ahead, 14-9.
- After Mallett's interception, the Ravens offense moved back down the field. Tight end Maxx Williams made an outstanding diving catch for a 21-yard gain, but the play was reversed after it was determined that the ball hit the ground. The Ravens would have been at the 24-yard line with a chance to take the lead.
- Following the reversal, wide receiver Chris Matthews dropped a third-down pass that would have gone for a first down. Baltimore went for it on fourth down and Williams also dropped the pass, turning the ball over on downs.
- Given possession after the turnover on downs, the Bengals quickly moved into Baltimore territory. The Ravens forced a fourth down, but the Bengals opted to go for it. Baltimore stacked the box, but Hill punched through the line and had just one man left to beat for a 38-yard score to break the game open at 21-9.
- Fullback Kyle Juszczyk caught a wide-open 2-yard touchdown pass to cap a nine-play drive and give the Ravens a chance at a game-tying comeback. The resulting onside kick was unsuccessful, however.
- The Ravens had a chance to tie the game with 41 seconds left and 91 yards to go, but Mallett lofted a pass into traffic and was picked off by linebacker Rey Maualuga.
Standout Performer Of The Game
K Justin Tucker
Tucker finished the season with field goals from 28, 50 and 49 yards. Tucker didn't go to the Pro Bowl this season, but the pending unrestricted free agent capped his year in strong fashion.
Check out all the best photos from Cincinnati as the Ravens battle the Bengals.