A.J. Green and the Cincinnati Bengals outpaced the Baltimore Ravens in a 34-23 victory in the first matchup between AFC North division rivals this season.
Cincinnati used a 14-point first quarter to take a lead they would never relinquish. Andy Dalton attributed the win to a strong start, but it was also a strong performance the Bengals quarterback and company kept up through the next three quarters that put the Ravens' comeback to bed.
"That was a great way to start tonight, to come out hot like we did to set the tone," Dalton said.
It was the Green show
In what usually is a close game, Bengals wide receiver Green made sure Cincinnati enjoyed a cozy lead after scoring three touchdowns in the first 17 minutes.
Dalton first found Green for a short four-yard touchdown to open the first quarter. The Bengals scored on the next three drives with Green responsible for two more touchdowns – a 32-yarder and another short score from the red zone.
Green, a seven-time Pro Bowl player, had his most productive game ever, and the best start of any Bengal with the most touchdown receptions through two games in team history. He finished the game with five receptions for 69 yards and his three scores.
Ravens cut the deficit, but it just wasn't enough
A series of plays before half-time cut Baltimore's deficit in half.
The Ravens finally got on the board in the second quarter when Javorius Allen rushed for a one-yard touchdown. The Bengals answered with a score and on the next play, Baltimore turned it over on downs. If Cincinnati ran the clock out, it would have went into the break with a more comfortable lead but a three-and-out gave the Ravens a chance to put more points up – and they did with another touchdown with just eight seconds left in the half.
Again, Joe Flacco tried to will Baltimore back into the game with a late drive, a 21-yard touchdown pass to John Brown.
But the Ravens' resurgence quickly faltered under Flacco.
It's number five — for now
Flacco is at the helm of the Ravens, but the future is with number eight Lamar Jackson, who Baltimore hope will take over under center in the not-so-distant future. Fortunately for Flacco, that did not happen on Thursday.
After a first-quarter interception, his 75th since the 2013 season for the second-most in the league, Flacco tightened up and almost pulled off an impressive comeback until Bengals safety Shawn Williams forced a turnover to effectively end the game.
Flacco finished 32-of-55 passing for 376 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
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