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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
BALTIMORE, Md. -- The Ravens became the first AFC North team to earn a division win this season with a 17-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.
In our view, the difference was Baltimore overwhelming Cincinnati at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
The offense kept Cincinnati's defense away from rookie quarterback Joe Flacco (129 yards, one touchdown run) just enough to allow the rookie to put points on the board. And the Ravens' defense, which was No. 6 in the NFL last year, held true to form by stuffing the run and pressuring quarterback Carson Palmer.
Healthy cornerbacks made a world of difference in Baltimore's defensive scheme. Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle covered Cincinnati's receivers well. Chad Ocho Cinco made his only catch in the third quarter, and the Ravens' complicated blitz packages confused the Bengals' offensive line.
Middle linebacker Ray Lewis made a key fourth-and-1 stop on Bengals tailback Chris Perry with seven minutes to go that told the story of the game.
This was an interesting matchup because neither team had showed much promise in the preseason. What we learned is physicality usually prevails in the AFC North, and Cincinnati will have to improve in that category if it wants to win inside the division, particularly on the road.