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Home » Bengals’ Defensive Touchdown Leads to Wild-Card Victory Over Ravens

Bengals’ Defensive Touchdown Leads to Wild-Card Victory Over Ravens

16 January 2023, Monday
The Baltimore Ravens weren't predicted to give the Cincinnati Bengals a tough game in their wild-card match-up on Sunday night due to the absence of Lamar Jackson. Although the Bengals did manage to clinch a 24-17 triumph and move on to face the Buffalo Bills in the divisional-round, the contest proved to be much closer than what was expected. The deciding factor turned out to be a 98-yard touchdown return off a Tyler Huntley fumble near the end zone in the fourth quarter.

The Bengals came through a tough challenge against their AFC North rivals, the Ravens, to secure their second consecutive division title. Despite Baltimore being without star QB Lamar Jackson, Cincinnati was pushed to their limits at Paycor Stadium but ultimately emerged victorious. Key individual performances from certain players were essential in helping the defending AFC champions progress.

With the Ravens a yard away from taking the lead in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati's defense made a crucial play. As Huntley attempted to score a touchdown, linebacker Logan Wilson knocked the ball out of his hands. It flew free and defensive end Sam Hubbard ran it back 98 yards for a touchdown, which is the longest fumble return in NFL postseason history. This had a major impact on the game as it created a 14-point swing and gave the Bengals a 24-17 advantage with 11:39 remaining.

Joe Burrow had an impressive performance in the Bengals' 17-10 win over the Jaguars. The quarterback completed 22 of 32 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. In the third quarter, Burrow led an impressive drive, completing three straight passes and then running in a 1-yard touchdown, topped off by a 2-point conversion pass to Tee Higgins which gave the Bengals their 7-point lead.

A concerning pattern has emerged for the Cincinnati offense: their offensive line may be in jeopardy going forward. Left tackle Jonah Williams was declared out of the game due to a left knee injury, leaving the Bengals without three starters if Williams and right guard Alex Cappa cannot suit up for the divisional round against Buffalo. On top of this, quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked four times.

Myles Hubbard's 98-yard touchdown in the Baltimore Ravens' divisional round game against the Tennessee Titans is not only one of the longest fumble returns in NFL playoff history, but also the first go-ahead fourth-quarter defensive touchdown in a playoff game since the Buffalo Bills' Jeff Burris had a pick-six against the Jacksonville Jaguars' Mark Brunell in the 1996 wild-card round. This means that, for the second time, the city of Baltimore has been on the receiving end of the longest fumble return in the playoffs, the other being in 1975 when Andy Russell ran for 93 yards in a divisional match-up against the Colts.

The Ravens were one yard away from achieving one of their most admirable playoff victories and demonstrating their ability to succeed without Jackson, however Huntley's fumble in addition to the ensuing return confirmed the difference in the outcome. Despite Huntley's multiple considerable plays that enabled the Ravens to remain competitive, being an eight-point underdog, his two errors brought a combined 10 points. Jackson, who has been absent due to a knee injury for the past six games, did not accompany the squad to the game. Summing up the match in two words, it was another heartbreaking loss for the Ravens; their sixth in the season after having a lead or being tied in the fourth quarter.

Cornerback Marcus Peters had a rough return after a three-game absence due to a calf injury. In the first quarter, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty incurred by Peters allowed the Bengals to score their first TD. Later, in the third, Peters was called for defensive pass interference on a 2-point attempt, and was then beaten by Higgins, giving the Bengals a seven-point lead. With the season's end drawing near and Peters' contract set to expire soon, this is an alarming trend.

Eye-catching NextGen stat: During the third quarter, Tyler Huntley threw a successful 41-yard touchdown to Demarcus Robinson, which was a surprise to many. It was Huntley's first attempt of the game of over 10 yards in the air, as well as Robinson's first deep reception this season. Robinson pulled off an impressive double move, creating 4.7 yards of separation from Bengals cornerback Eli Apple. This completion had a 62.3% probability.

Significant under-the-radar stat: The Ravens have a remarkable 6-1 win rate in the wild-card round when playing away from home. Baltimore is the only NFL team left that is undefeated in road wild-card games.
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