Jimmy Smith: Bengals Are The AFC North Bully


Watch out, there's a new AFC North bully on the Ravens' block.

While Baltimore has seemingly gotten Pittsburgh's number recently – winning eight of the last 11 meetings, including a season sweep this year – the Ravens haven't been able to crack the Bengals recently.

The Bengals have won four straight games against the Ravens, including a painful come-from-behind 28-24 victory in Week 3.

"Really? Are you sure? Is it four?" cornerback Jimmy Smith said.

"Is the rivalry switching? I don't know, I don't know. I kind of hate the Bengals. … They're the bully right now. We've got to go fight back and win this game."

The Bengals have won the AFC North crown two of the past three seasons. At 11-4, they've already clinched it this year.

The Ravens-Bengals series has swung back and forth during Head Coach John Harbaugh's era. The Ravens started with a series sweep in 2008. The Bengals came back with three straight victories. The Ravens responded with a four-game run from the end of the 2010 season to 2012.

"I haven't beaten them yet," defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "I'm sick and tired of losing to them, there ain't no other way around it. It's definitely motivating the whole team."

While the Steelers have long been considered the Ravens' chief rival, the players don't necessarily feel that way – especially during Bengals week.

"To me, they're the same," Jernigan said. "I feel like it's going to be that type of game again. They're going to come out fiery. They're a chippy team and they play hard."

What's been especially tough to swallow has been the way in which the Ravens have lost to the Bengals in recent matchups. The Ravens have held a fourth-quarter lead in the past three losses.

In Week 3 this year, the Ravens actually held two fourth-quarter leads, but wide receiver A.J. Green spoiled both. He caught an 80-yard touchdown at about the six-minute mark, then caught the game-winning pass with about two minutes left.

Last season, the Ravens held a four-point lead with four minutes left, but quarterback Andy Dalton drove down the field on a 10-play drive and dove in for the winning score on a 1-yard sneak with less than a minute left.

In the teams' first matchup in 2014, Steve Smith Sr. had a miraculous 80-yard touchdown to give the Ravens a one-point lead with about six minutes remaining. Green stunned Baltimore with a 77-yard juggling snag on the next drive to deliver the win.

The Ravens' first loss in the recent string came in the season finale of 2013 and knocked Baltimore out of the playoffs while giving the Bengals the AFC North crown. Baltimore got the help it needed from other AFC teams to get into the postseason, but was blown out in a 34-17 road defeat.

This year, the Ravens are already out of playoff contention, but they don't want to end on a similar sour note in the Bengals' home.

"We're tired of taking Ls to these guys, especially in these very close games," Jernigan said. "We're just trying to finally turn that corner and get it done."

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