BALTIMORE — A second straight overtime loss reinforced for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton just how slim the difference is between winning and losing in the NFL.
Cincinnati rallied from a 17-point deficit and forced overtime on a desperation heave from Dalton to A.J. Green on the final play of regulation Sunday.
But the Baltimore Ravens bounced back in overtime and won 20-17 on a 46-yard field goal by Justin Tucker with 5:27 left in the extra session.
The spirited comeback, the 51-yard TD pass to Green and a tremendous performance by Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey all went for naught as Cincinnati (6-4) missed an opportunity to all but oust the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens (4-5) from the AFC North race.
It was the second straight overtime loss for the Bengals, who were coming off a 22-20 defeat at Miami.
“We were close today,” Dalton lamented. “We’ve been close in these overtime games. We’ve got to whatever we can to make one more play, put ourselves in a better position where we can score and have a chance to not let the other team have it. Again, it didn’t happen today.”
The Bengals were hurt by nine penalties totaling 134 yards, five sacks and three interceptions.
“We hurt ourselves a lot with penalties this game and we couldn’t catch a break,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “In the first half, it was just incredible. I’ve never seen a run of penalties so one-sided.”
The Ravens won with only 189 yards of offense. Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, and Ray Rice gained a mere 30 yards on 18 carries.
“Sometimes you have to win by any means necessary,” Rice said. “Winning heals a lot. Now we’ve got to get on a roll to get back where we want to be.”
Dalton went 24 for 51 for 274 yards as the Bengals lost to Baltimore for the fifth time in six games.
On the last-second heave in regulation, Green positioned himself behind the pack and caught the deflection after it flicked off the hand of Ravens safety James Ihedigbo, who earlier had the first two interceptions of his career.
“I was just looking for someone to tap the ball so I could catch it,” Green said.
The Bengals won the toss before overtime and moved to the Baltimore 33 before Giovani Bernard caught a short pass, reversed field and was tackled for an 11-yard loss on fourth down.
Baltimore then got a pair of first downs before Tucker kicked the winner.
With 151 yards receiving, Green set a franchise record with his fifth straight 100-yard game. And, making his second start of the season, Rey had 13 tackles, three sacks and his first career interception.
All of it occurred in a losing effort.
“We can’t be down on ourselves,” Dalton said. “There’s a lot left in the season, and we can control our own fate. We are still in good position with a lot in front of us. We just need to play our best.”
A gusty afternoon proved troublesome for the Bengals. Mike Nugent missed a 42-yard field goal into the wind and Dalton repeatedly overthrew his receivers. In the second quarter, Ihedigbo picked off a high pass and returned it 37 yards to set up a touchdown for a 17-0 lead.
“The wind was definitely a factor, but that’s the way it goes,” Dalton said.
Baltimore mustered only 94 yards in offense before halftime, but took advantage of Bengals miscues to put together scoring drives of 53, 58 and 11 yards.
Cincinnati had more penalty yards than total offense (114-102) in the first half, and Dalton was 8 for 21 for 47 yards and an interception.
The Bengals’ opening possession ended with a failed fourth-and-1 gamble at the Baltimore 47. Flacco immediately went long. Although he underthrew Jacoby Jones, a pass interference call against Reggie Nelson covered 48 yards. On third down, Dallas Clark caught a 1-yard pass in the end zone — the Ravens’ only first-quarter touchdown since the season opener.
Baltimore quickly got the ball back, and a facemask penalty against Cincinnati’s Chris Crocker contributed to a 58-yard drive that ended with a field goal to make it 10-0.
Things didn’t get better for the Bengals. Nugent shanked a field-goal try to the left, and Ihedigbo’s first interception set up a 7-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith.
“I thought early in the game we weren’t consistent,” Lewis said. “And we weren’t really good on third down today.”
Cincinnati converted only five of 19 third-down plays, but was 3 for 5 on fourth down.
Notes: Not only did Ihedigbo get two INTs, but he tied with Daryl Smith for the team lead with nine tackles. … Dalton’s run of four straight 300-yard games ended. … Baltimore is 9-1 at home in November since 2008.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org