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Sunday, January 2, 2011
Wrap-up: Ravens 13, Bengals 7

By James Walker

Here are some thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 13-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals:

What it means: With the Pittsburgh Steelers beating the Cleveland Browns, the game didn't mean much for Baltimore. But the Ravens finished the regular season with an impressive 12-4 record and split their season series with Cincinnati. For the Bengals, it stopped some late-season momentum and snapped a two-game winning streak. Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer also fell to 9-4 in his career as a starter against the Ravens.

What I liked: I thought both teams played hard in this game, despite being at different stages. Cincinnati usually plays the Ravens tough and had a chance to win it at the end. But the Bengals' final drive stalled deep in Baltimore territory. Overall, both defenses played well. Cincinnati registered four sacks and the Ravens forced and recovered three fumbles. Bengals receiver Jerome Simpson had another big game with 12 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.

What I didn't like: Neither quarterback played well. Palmer had three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble), which kept Cincinnati's offense from sustaining many scoring drives. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was accurate, but he couldn't do much damage against Cincinnati for the second time this season. He threw for 125 yards and an interception. He has four picks against the Bengals in two games this season. Look for future playoff opponents to take a look at Flacco's two meetings with the Bengals as a way to scheme against Baltimore's offense.

What's next: It's playoff time for the Ravens, who lost the AFC North via a tiebreaker and will be a wild card for the third consecutive year. We will have more on Baltimore's playoff matchup later this evening in the AFC North blog. For the Bengals, their disappointing season is over. Cincinnati entered the year with high expectations and could make major changes this week at key positions on its roster and coaching staff.