BALTIMORE (AP) — One touchdown and Justin Tucker’s flawless right leg were enough to thrust the Baltimore Ravens into a first-place tie in the AFC North.
Tucker kicked four field goals and Baltimore shut down the Cincinnati Bengals’ depleted offense Sunday in a 19-14 victory that put the resurgent Ravens back over .500.
Baltimore (6-5) has won three of four following a four-game losing streak.
Joe Flacco threw for 234 yards and a score to help the Ravens end a five-game skid against the Bengals (3-7-1), whose playoff hopes took another serious blow.
The victory was not assured until Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton fumbled when sacked by Elvis Dumervil, and defensive end Lawrence Guy recovered at the Baltimore 21 with 1:05 left and the Ravens up 19-12.
“We don’t want a fumble at the end,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “He moved up in the pocket. They just got a hand on the ball.”
Cincinnati got a safety on the final play when Baltimore punter Sam Koch ran out of the end zone. Koch was able to run out the clock because his teammates were intentionally holding the oncoming Bengals, drawing numerous flags.
By rule, a game does not continue on an offensive penalty as it would on a defensive penalty.
Dalton went 26 for 48 for 283 yards. He fumbled three times, losing two.
At this point, the Bengals will need a sensational finish to extend their run of consecutive playoff appearances to six. Cincinnati has won only one of seven games since Sept. 29.
“We have been able to control it ourselves. Now we need help,” Lewis said.
Tucker connected from 52, 57 and 54 yards to stake the Ravens to a 16-3 halftime lead. He added a 36-yard field goal to make it 19-9 with 12:16 remaining.
Tucker has made 34 field goals in a row, including 27 this season, and has connected on all 15 conversion tries.
“If you want to win, you want the ball in your hands,” Tucker said. “In my case, at your feet.”
Baltimore’s second-ranked defense was the difference-maker. Terrell Suggs had two sacks and forced two fumbles, and the Bengals gained only 64 yards on the ground.
Baltimore had something to do with it, but Cincinnati was playing without running back Giovani Bernard and wide receiver A.J. Green , both of whom were injured last week in a loss to Buffalo. Bernard was lost for the season with a torn ACL and Green sustained a hamstring injury that could sideline him for several weeks.
The Ravens led 16-3 in the third quarter before Dalton directed an 86-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Eifert.
The conversion by Mike Nugent sailed wide right — the third straight extra point he missed over a two-game span. He is 19 for 23 on conversions this season.
It was 16-9 entering the final 15 minutes. That did not bode well for a Bengals team that was averaging four points in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens, meanwhile, scored their lone touchdown on the first drive of the game. After Flacco threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Breshad Perriman, Tucker added a field goal.
The Bengals answered with a field goal and used an interception by Rey Maualuga to gain possession at the Baltimore 19.
But Dalton was surprised by a third-down snap and Dumervil recovered to end the threat. Dumervil (foot) was playing in only his third game of the season.
“The offense started out great, put points on the board,” Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “When the pressure is on, the defense has to come through. And we did.”
The Ravens’ skid against the Bengals began in 2013 and included four straight defeats by a total of 22 points.
“I’m really happy for the older guys who had been on that losing streak,” rookie cornerback Tavon Young said. “They took it seriously all week, knowing we had to beat Cincinnati to have any shot at the division. It was great to be part of this.”
Bengals: Lewis, on playing without Bernard and Green, said, “That’s got nothing to do with today. Today was this group, this football team.”
Ravens: Suggs, on Baltimore playing in another close game: “If it ain’t tough, it ain’t the Ravens way. It ain’t pretty, but we’ll take it.”
Bengals: Former Ravens CB Chykie Brown was carted off late in the second quarter with a knee injury. … Cornerback Josh Shaw hurt his ankle. … TE Tyler Kroft was taken to the locker room with a possible concussion.
Bengals: The Philadelphia Eagles visit Cincinnati to resume a series the Bengals lead 8-3-1.
Ravens: The Ravens play their penultimate home game next Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.