Steve Smith Sr. did everything he could, but he couldn't carry the Ravens defense too.
The Ravens' veteran wide receiver had a record-setting day, but Baltimore's defense faltered in the final minutes yet again, a trend that has largely saddled the team with its first 0-3 start in franchise history.
The Ravens allowed the Bengals to march down the field with less than three minutes remaining to claim a 28-24 victory in the season opener at M&T Bank Stadium.
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green torched the Ravens again, catching 10 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He scored an 80-yard touchdown on the first play after Baltimore took its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter, then followed it up with the game-winning 7-yard touchdown reception.
Smith did all he could, hauling in 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-changing 50-yard touchdown in the third quarter on fourth down, then another physical 16-yard score with about four minutes remaining. He carried Baltimore's offense.
The Bengals grabbed a 14-0 lead at halftime and could have had more had it not been for a goal-line fumble and overturned touchdown, then an Andy Dalton interception in the end zone to cornerback Jimmy Smith.
Behind Smith, the Ravens roared back to eventually take the lead. The defense shut the Bengals out in the third quarter.
But as has been the problem all year long, the two units couldn't get on the same page at the same time. Just when the offense started marching down the field in the fourth quarter, the defense faltered, twice.
The Bengals swiftly moved down the field on their game-winning score. They only faced a second down twice, and one was when they notched their decisive touchdown. Dalton completed passes of 23, 19 and 31 yards before the touchdown toss.
Quote Of The Day
"One of these days, we'll figure out how to cover A.J. Green. It'd be nice if we did that one time before he retires." -- Head Coach John Harbaugh
Turning Point Of The Game
The Ravens had taken their first lead of the game with just under seven minutes remaining when Green turned it around in one play. Dalton found Green open down the seam and he shook off three defenders en route to an 80-yard touchdown to re-take the lead at 21-17. The Ravens had zone coverage on the play, according to Harbaugh.
- It was a rough first series for the defense. Cornerback Rashaan Melvin stumbled and gave up a 32-yard pass on third down, then was flagged for holding and hands to the face penalties. A deflected pass fell through the hands of Courtney Upshaw, then safety Will Hill was called for pass interference. Dalton finished it with a scramble up the middle for a touchdown.
- Kicker Justin Tucker missed his first field goal of the year, pushing a 50-yard attempt in the first quarter wide right.
- Flacco took a deep shot down the right sideline for Smith. He was interfered with, but still had a chance to catch the pass. It hit off his chest, however, and he couldn't grab the deflection. On the next play, Flacco was intercepted by Adam "Pacman" Jones on a pass outside intended for fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
- Melvin's tough day continued on the Bengals' third drive after the pick. He was flagged for a defensive pass interference, then allowed wide receiver Marvin Jones to get inside of him for a 16-yard Bengals touchdown, set up by Flacco's interception.
- The Bengals went for it on fourth-and-1 from the 2-yard line in the second quarter. Tight end Tyler Eifert caught the pass and extended it over the goal line, but safety Brynden Trawick's foot knocked it loose in the process. The play was originally ruled a touchdown, but was reversed to an incomplete pass after review.
- With the Ravens trailing, 14-0, and facing a critical fourth-and-5 at midfield, Harbaugh rolled the dice and went for it. Flacco threw outside to Smith Sr., who shook off one hit, spun by propping himself up with one hand, then skirted around another tackle before racing up the sideline for a highlight-reel touchdown.
- Baltimore drove all the way to the Bengals' 2-yard line and opted to throw a quick pass to wide receiver Michael Campanaro. He was tackled for no gain by cornerback Leon Hall, leaving the Ravens settling for a field goal to make the score 14-10 with 13 minutes, 27 seconds left.
- Baltimore had one final shot to win the game with two minutes remaining, but guard Kelechi Osemele was flagged for a personal foul, negating a first down, then Flacco's last-ditch heave down the field on fourth-and-long bounced off the fingertips of diving rookie tight end Maxx Williams.
- With the Ravens trailing by four points in the fourth quarter, outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil made the defense's biggest play of the game. Dumervil turned the corner and chopped Dalton's arm as he sacked him. The ball popped loose, was scooped up by inside linebacker C.J. Mosley and returned 41 yards for a touchdown, giving Baltimore its first lead at 17-14.
- Following Green's 80-yard touchdown, the Ravens offense marched back down the field for another touchdown. Smith had a 16-yard grab on third-and-11 in which he slammed the cornerback to the ground. Then wide receiver Michael Campanaro had a clutch 11-yard catch on third-and-10. Smith finished the drive with a 16-yard touchdown catch in which he boxed out the defender in the end zone.
- Cincinnati wasted no time cruising back down the field for the game-winning score. Dalton stepped up through pressure to find running back Gio Bernard wide open on the sideline for a catch and run of 23 yards. Then Dalton hit receiver Mohammed Sanu on a slant that worked through a couple tackles for a 19-yard gain. The big strike was a 31-yard pass to Marvin Jones, who got behind cornerback Kyle Arrington to make a one-handed grab and set up Green's eventual 7-yard game-winning touchdown.
WR Steve Smith Sr.Smith caught 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns. It's tied for the most receptions and the third-most receiving yards in a single game in Ravens franchise history.
Stat Of The Game
Green's 227 receiving yards are the third-most allowed in a single game in Ravens history. He also beat the Ravens on a late game-winning touchdown last year at M&T Bank Stadium, which was the only home September loss during the Harbaugh era before Sunday.
On The Horizon
The Ravens will head to Pittsburgh on a short week to take on the 3-1 Steelers in a pivotal AFC North matchup against their arch rivals Thursday night.
Check out the best game-action and on-field photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens host the Bengals!