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Ravens can't stop Andy Dalton's sneak, fall from 1st place with 27-24 loss to Bengals

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CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton had already scored on a 1-yard sneak, so the Baltimore Ravens thought he might try it again.

They still couldn't stop it.

Dalton made up for his two fourth-quarter turnovers by scoring on a 1-yard sneak with 57 seconds left on Sunday, rallying the Cincinnati Bengals to a 27-24 victory that knocked the Ravens out of first place in the AFC North.

For the second time this season, the division rivals played a wild, back-and-forth game that came down to the final plays.

"Great football game," Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I mean, the players and the coaches played one of the greatest you're ever going to see."

The Bengals (4-2-1) let an 11-point lead slip away. Dalton's fumble and interception in the fourth quarter helped the Ravens (5-3) pull ahead 24-20 with 3:59 to go.

Dalton pulled it out with a 10-play, 80-yard drive against the NFL's stingiest defense.

He threw a 53-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu on third-and-10 — safety Terrence Brooks got turned around and couldn't make a play on the ball — to get Cincinnati in range to pull it out. Dalton was 3 of 5 for 62 yards on the drive, converting a pair of third downs.

"I had position on him," Brooks said of Sanu's pivotal catch. "He just recognized it a little quicker. I feel I should have made that play. I've made it a thousand times. It's unacceptable in my book."

On the fourth-down play from just beyond the 1-yard line, Dalton had the option of taking it himself. The Bengals sent three receivers to the right, and he figured the sneak would work. His linemen gave him the final push over the goal line.

The Ravens were expecting it and stopped Dalton before the linemen gave him a final push.

"They could have called forward progress stopped, yes they could have," Harbaugh said.

It was the first touchdown that the Ravens had allowed in the final 2 minutes of a game this season. The 24 points were the most they have allowed overall.

PHOTO: Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones (24) is chased by Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele after making an interception during the second half of an NFL football game in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones (24) is chased by Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele after making an interception during the second half of an NFL football game in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

The Bengals had to wait out a few scary moments before celebrating.

Joe Flacco eluded the rush and lofted a pass to Steve Smith, who went 80 yards for an apparent touchdown with 32 seconds left. Smith was called for pushing off on George Iloka to get open, nullifying the play.

"The last play, Joe threw a great ball," Smith said. "Things happen. Ultimately you hope you don't allow plays like that to dictate the determination of a win or a loss. So, it happens. I'm not disappointed, not upset, not frustrated, just exhausted and looking forward to playing next week."

With that, the Bengals had their first series sweep of the Ravens since 2009. They won the season opener 23-16 in Baltimore on A.J. Green's juggling 77-yard touchdown in the closing minutes.

Green was inactive on Sunday for the third week in a row because of an injured big right toe, hurt in the opener at Baltimore. Sanu filled in and had two big plays while finishing with five catches for a career-high 125 yards.

Sanu also made a one-handed catch for a 48-yard pass play on Cincinnati's game-opening drive, which ended with a 1-yard sneak by Dalton. He was 21 of 28 for 266 yards with an interception, a fumble and two sacks.

Those turnovers helped Baltimore take its first lead. Haloti Ngata forced a fumble by Dalton that Daryl Smith returned to the 8-yard line, and Lorenzo Taliaferro's second touchdown run put the Ravens up 21-20.

C.J. Mosley intercepted Dalton's tipped pass, setting up Justin Tucker's 53-yard field goal with 3:59 to go. Just like in the opener, the Ravens' defense couldn't hold onto a late lead.

Flacco was 17 of 34 for 195 yards with two interceptions and a sack. The Ravens dominated the first half against a struggling defense — Cincinnati had allowed more than 500 yards in two of its past three games — but couldn't get touchdowns out of long drives.

Baltimore had the ball for 18 plays on its first drive, but Flacco's incompletion on fourth down from the 1-yard line made the Ravens come up empty. It was the longest drive without points in franchise history.

Notes: Ravens WR Torrey Smith ran into a cluster of players in the second half and was tested for a concussion, but returned. WR Michael Campanaro pulled a hamstring in the third quarter and didn't return. CB Jimmy Smith left with a foot injury during the Bengals' opening drive. Harbaugh provided no specifics on the injuries. ... Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict left during Baltimore's opening series after hurting his left knee but returned. RG Kevin Zeitler reinjured his right calf, which forced him to miss three games.


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