The Baltimore Ravens blew it. More specifically, the Ravens’ defense blew it.
Yes, it’s that simple. Needing to beat the hapless Cincinnati Bengals at home in Week 17 to return to the playoff for the first time since 2014, John Harbaugh’s team allowed Andy Dalton to march 90 yards down the field for a game-winning touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd. 31-27 Bengals. Season over.
After registering fewer than 70 first half yards, Joe Flacco and the Ravens trailed 17-10 at intermission, only to fall behind 24-10 early in the third quarter following an inexcusable 89-yard Flacco pick-six that should have been a walk-in touchdown to tie the game.
Buoyed by some sturdy running from Alex Collins and Buck Allen though, the veteran quarterback found a rhythm, ultimately connecting with Mike Wallace to take a 27-24 lead at the 8:49 mark. It appeared the Ravens would maintain that lead too, as they melted away the clock on the ground.
Dalton, however, got the ball back on his own 10-yard line with just 1:53 remaining. To his credit, the heavily maligned quarterback marched Cincinnati down the field, escaping a potentially catastrophic sack on third down to induce a Ravens hold. New life, but only for a brief moment. Then, on fourth-and-12 from the Baltimore 49, Dalton fired a bullet in single coverage to Boyd, who did the rest en route to the game-winning touchdown.
It is a bitter pill to swallow for Ravens fans. After an atrocious start to the season, 9-7 Baltimore rattled off five of six games, needing only to defeat a marginal Bengals team at home to reach the playoffs.
With the loss, the Buffalo Bills — who previously survived a six-point win in Miami — earn their first postseason bid since the 1999 season. First-year head Coach Sean McDermott will take his team to Jacksonville next week to take on the AFC South-winning Jaguars, who themselves have not been to the playoffs since 2007.
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Jordan Schultz is an NFL, NBA and NCAAB insider/analyst for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at Jordan.Schultz@Oath.com.
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