It looked as though the Baltimore Ravens had pulled off a miraculous late comeback against the Cincinnati Bengals when Steve Smith hauled in an 80-yard touchdown pass to put the Ravens ahead with under a minute remaining. But the play was wiped out by an offensive pass interference call, handing the Bengals a 27-24 win and first place in the AFC North.
On fourth-and-goal with under a minute remaining, Andy Dalton burrowed into the end zone from 1 yard out to give the Bengals a three-point lead. The score capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive.
It was a goat to hero story for Dalton, who had committed two disastrous turnovers in the fourth quarter to blow what had been a six-point lead. The quarterback struggled at times through the air (266 yards, no touchdowns and one pick) but scored twice on the ground.
Here are the three big takeaways from the game:
1) Late turnovers almost cost the Bengals.
With seven minutes left in the game, the Bengals were in command with a 20-14 lead. Two Dalton mistakes later and the Ravens were up by four.
The first mistake came when Dalton coughed up the ball after Haloti Ngata got to him for a strip sack. The Ravens scooped it up and rumbled down to the Bengals' 8-yard line, setting up a Lorenzo Taliaferro touchdown run. On the first play of Cincinnati's ensuing possession, Dalton gave it right back with an interception that was knocked out of the hands of Mohamed Sanu. Baltimore capitalized with a field goal, pushing its lead to 24-20.
2) The Bengals need A.J. Green back.
The star wideout missed his third consecutive game with a toe injury, and once again the Cincinnati offense struggled in his absence. Last week, Andy Dalton threw for just 126 yards and the Bengals were shut out by the Colts. He was better this week, but clearly struggled without his safety blanket.
Green was the difference when the Bengals knocked off the Ravens in Week 1, catching a game-winning 77-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, part of a 131-yard day.
3) Cincy is back on top of the AFC North.
It's a huge win for the Bengals, who bring a halt to their three-week skid and reestablish themselves as the favorite in the division. They move to 4-2-1 on the year while the Ravens drop to 5-3. The Bengals' tie complicates the math, but they're now in first place on percentage points. More importantly, they've swept their division foe.