Baltimore Ravens: Season Ends With Lousy Showing Against Cincinnati Bengals

Jan 3, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallett (7) reacts to a play during the second quarter against Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallett (7) reacts to a play during the second quarter against Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Ravens final game of the 2015 season was much like the rest of the year: boring, difficult to watch and ends with a quarterback throwing an interception on a pass off his back foot.

The Cincinnati Bengals did nothing impressive to earn a 24-16 win over the Ravens on Sunday, but the better team prevailed as the Ravens could not do their part to make the playoff scenario interesting for Cincinnati. The Bengals will have a first-round bye in the playoffs if the Denver Broncos lose today.

The first half of the game was one that even the most loyal football fan would struggle to watch. It was dreadful to say the least. The first quarter featured five punts and neither team was particularly spectacular as both offenses struggled to move the ball with consistency.

On the Ravens first scoring drive in the second quarter, Ryan Mallett almost threw an interception into the arms of Dre Kirkpatrick, but the Ravens were fortunate that he could not come up with the catch. Justin Tucker would come on for the first points of the game to make it a 3-0 game.

Baltimore looked to score on their next possession, but the play was overturned following review. Jeremy Butler would take a pass play for a touchdown, but the catch was ruled incomplete. Tucker would come on for his second attempt, a 50-yard try, to give Baltimore a 6-0 advantage. 

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The Bengals responded with a scoring drive of their own that was continued by another Ravens penalty. Will Hill was called for a 23-yard pass interference penalty that was the longest play of the first half. A.J. McCarron found tight end Tyler Eifert down the seam for a 22-yard touchdown to get the Bengals on top, 7-6, with 1:49 remaining in the half.

Mallett led a terrific drive to close out the first half, driving the offense down the field to get Tucker in range for another field goal. Tucker would convert on his third field goal of the game and Baltimore led 9-7 at halftime.

The Bengals defense came up with a huge play to open up the second half as Vontaze Burfict picked off a pass in the flat to give Cincy great field position. McCarron capped off the Ravens’ mistake with back-to-back spectacular grabs by A.J. Green, giving Cincinnati a 14-9 lead. The touchdown by Green was his sixth against the Ravens, the most allowed by Baltimore over the last five seasons.

The Bengals shut the door on the Ravens after the back-to-back drops by Chris Matthews and Maxx Williams to turn the ball over on downs. The Bengals drove 62 yards for another score, capped off by a Jeremy Hill 38-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 play. Giovani Bernard had a couple of key plays on the drive, but it was Hill that broke past the Ravens defense to put the game out of reach. 

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The final 15 minutes of the Ravens 2015 season were lousy to say the least. The Ravens offense could not muster up anything as Mallett struggled to connect with his receivers throughout. He looked to regress following last week’s strong effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Bengals would tack on another field goal late to extend their lead to 24-9. Baltimore tried to keep it interesting by responding with a touchdown drive that ended on a Kyle Juszczyk catch in the flat to cut the score to a 24-16 game. The Ravens would go for an onside kick, but could not come up with the recovery.

Baltimore would have one final possession, but the season would come to a close on another interception on a throw coming off the quarterback’s back foot. Mallett lofted a ball over the middle and Rey Maualuga came up with the easy pick to put an end to a miserable campaign for Baltimore.

The Ravens offseason now begins with several questions that need to be answered. Kelechi Osemele and Justin Tucker are both impending free agents. Flacco carries a hefty price tag next season and the team will need to restructure that contract. And the biggest question of them all might be, what is up with all the injuries the past two seasons?

Next: 2015 Rough Year for Baltimore Sports

There is some hope for next season. The Ravens will have some depth throughout the roster with the 20 players on injured reserve set to return. The offense will welcome back Justin Forsett and Steve Smith, as well as Breshad Perriman and pieces of the offensive line. Terrell Suggs comes back one year older, but there is no question the defense was not the same without him. John Harbaugh has the foundation to get this team back to their winning ways in a hurry.

It has been one hell of a ride for the Ravens this 2015 season. Thanks for staying with us all year long and stay with us for all the news and rumors that make the NFL offseason so much fun to follow.