The 2016 campaign finished with a game that was very much a microcosm of the Ravens' season.
Baltimore's offense struggled for much of the day, the defense didn't finish after starting the season strong, and the year ended with a 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
The defense, which spent a portion of this season as the league's top-ranked unit, didn't have any answers for Cincinnati's offense early in the game. The Bengals had success on the ground and through the air, and built an early lead by scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions.
As the defense faltered early, the Ravens offense couldn't get into any kind of rhythm. The Ravens again went with a pass-heavy game plan, and quarterback Joe Flacco finished the game completing 32 of his 49 passes for 267 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
Baltimore's defense figured out the Bengals in the second half and forced them to punt on five-straight possessions, but the Ravens couldn't do enough offensively to overcome their early deficit. The Ravens weren't able to consistently sustain drives, and they also failed to come up with points on two trips inside Cincinnati's 10-yard line.
Coming into the weekend, the game was largely billed a farewell tour for veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr. The 16-year veteran is planning to retire this offseason, but the Ravens weren't able to send him off on a high note.
Smith showed off his feistiness every time he got his hands on the football, but he finished with just three catches for 34 yards.
The loss drops the Ravens to 8-8 on the season.
- The Bengals marched right down the field on their first two drives. Quarterback Andy Dalton didn't throw an incompletion in the entire first quarter, and the Bengals scored touchdowns on a 5-yard rush by running back Rex Burkhead and a 1-yard catch by tight end C.J. Uzomah
- With the Ravens on the doorstep of scoring their first touchdown of the game, Flacco got picked off in the end zone throwing to tight end Dennis Pitta on first-and-goal in the second quarter. The interception turned out to be a 10-point swing, as the Bengals drove down the field and tacked on a field goal before halftime.
- In the third quarter, Baltimore's offense again wasn't able to capitalize on a trip inside the red-zone. The Ravens drove 58 yards to get to Cincinnati's 8-yard line, but then the offense stalled. The Ravens elected to go for it on fourth-and-2 rather than kicking the short field goal, but Flacco's pass intended for Pitta fell incomplete.
- Receiver Breshad Perriman showed off his wheels with a 39-yard reception in the fourth quarter to set up rookie running back Kenneth Dixon on a 1-yard touchdown plunge. Perriman caught the pass on a crossing route across the middle of the field and then just outran the defense. Perriman's big gain and Dixon's touchdown carry cut Cincinnati's lead to 20-10.
- Burkhead delivered the knockout blow with his 5-yard touchdown carry late in the fourth quarter to make the score 27-10. Burkhead finished with 27 carries for 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Standout Player of the Game
TE Dennis Pitta
The veteran tight end was clearly Flacco's favorite target on the day, and he finished with 11 catches for 91 yards. The strong afternoon from Pitta capped off his stellar season. He beat the odds to return from two major hip injuries in as many years and played in all 16 games. He also put up the best statistical season of his career by finishing with 86 catches for 729 yards. Pitta's 86 receptions set a new franchise single-season record for catches by a tight end, topping the mark Todd Heap set in 2005 with 75.
On The Horizon
The Ravens head into the offseason with plenty of questions to address. Making the playoffs is always the expectation in Baltimore, but the Ravens have now missed the postseason in three out of the last four years. Leadership will take a hard look at what needs to change in order to improve in 2017.
Check out the best photos from Cincinnati as the Ravens play the Bengals in week 17.