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Cincinnati Bengals overcome Dalton's INTs, top Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens won't defend their Super Bowl championship as they fell 34-17 to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Cincinnati's defense led the way, holding the Ravens out of the end zone following four Andy Dalton interceptions.

The AFC North champions kept their hopes alive for a first-round playoff bye if the New England Patriots lose at home to the Buffalo Bills.

Here is what else we learned about this contest:

  1. The Bengals can match up with any team in the AFC, but Dalton continues to be the Achilles heel. His four interceptions (two on consecutive drives to open the game) kept Sunday's tilt from being a potential blowout early. The quad-picks were the most of his career on a day he set franchise records for touchdown passes (33) and passing yards. The "Dalton Scale" continues to be an enigma.
  1. Joe Flacco was battered early and often Sunday. He went 30-of-50 passing for 192 yards, three interceptions and one touchdown through the air. The reigning Super Bowl MVP didn't look quite right on his bum left knee. His throws were often off-target and he seemed reluctant to step into many of his throws.
  1. Moving into next season, the Ravens will need to fix the leaky offensive line. Second on the list is to revamp the receiving corps. Dennis Pitta was the only pass-catcher that played a notable role throughout the game (11 targets). With Torrey Smith bracketed, Ravens receivers struggled to get open.
  1. The Bengals' defense won this game. The front four was all over Flacco from the get-go. Mike Zimmer's group earned two sacks and hit the Ravens quarterback seven times. Zimmer's secondary played well, getting three interceptions -- including Dre Kirkpatrick's game-sealing pick six. The defensive coordinator should be a candidate for head coaching jobs in the offseason.
  1. The Ravens offense let down their defense, which played well for the most part Sunday.
  1. There will be no recount for Ravens' team MVP. Justin Tucker set the team's single-season points record Sunday (140).
  1. Bengals receiver Marvin Jones was the perfect complement to A.J. Green's explosive plays. Jones had a highlight reel, juggling touchdown catch and often made himself available for Dalton on third down.

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