Joe Flacco's season essentially ended with an interception.
An off-target throw by Flacco late in the fourth quarter was picked off and returned for a touchdown by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, sealing a 34-17 Baltimore loss and missed opportunity at the playoffs.
Flacco walked off the field with an expression of disbelief, throwing his helmet to the ground.
Flacco threw 22 interceptions this year, setting a Ravens franchise record. Gun-slinging Vinny Testaverde threw 19 interceptions and 33 touchdowns in 1996. Last year's Super Bowl MVP finished the year with 19 touchdowns.
When the game ended, Flacco's 22 picks were the second-most in the league this season, only trailing the Giants' Eli Manning (26). Flacco surpassed Jets rookie Geno Smith in picks. It's 12 more interceptions than Flacco had last season and 10 more than his previous career high.
Turnovers have been a problem all year, and they cropped up again in Cincinnati.
"When you're not sharp enough, usually the same problems keep presenting themselves," Flacco said.
"Even at the end of the game, they're giving us an easy touchdown and we can't get it. When you're that much off through the course of a game and through 16 games, you're not going to be consistent enough to win football games. That's kind of where we are."
Flacco and the offense didn't get much movement for the first three quarters, but it did protect the football. All three of Flacco's picks came in the fourth quarter.
The first came on the first play after the Bengals took a seven-point lead near the start of the quarter. Flacco's pass was deflected by defensive end Michael Johnson and safety Chris Crocker broke behind wide receiver Marlon Brown to pick off the fluttering pass.
"If that ball gets through there, Torrey [Smith] might split it," Flacco said.
"That's the disappointing thing. We had a guy open there, and the guy made a play. He got his hand up and batted the ball down. The other guy did a great job getting his eyes on the ball and making a pick."
Flacco's second pick came on fourth-and-10 when he tried to loft a ball deep. He was facing intense pressure and just tried to get something off.
Flacco said he could have gone with a quick pass against the Bengals blitz, but he didn't want one of his receivers getting tackled short of the first down. So he gave his man a shot, but*the pass was too deep and was caught by *Kirkpatrick.
Flacco's final pick came when his throw was behind Smith on a slant. Kirkpatrick danced 21 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.
Flacco's season ended with a pair of rough games, which can be partially attributed to his banged up left knee. He tossed two interceptions and no touchdowns against New England. Then one touchdown and three picks in Cincinnati.
His offensive line didn't keep him upright either. Flacco took the second-most sacks in the league this year, and he was dropped two more times and hit seven times by the Bengals. One hit in the second quarter left Flacco screaming in pain.
"We let them put pressure on us," Flacco said.
"I think a lot of the pressure in the first half didn't necessarily come from their blitz looks. It just came from those guys twisting the reins around up the middle and getting us with that stuff."