Red zone failures leave Ravens seeing red

Red zone failures leave Ravens seeing red
December 29, 2013, 5:00 pm
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Pitta: We missed out on a lot of opportunities

The Bengals certainly did everything they could to help the Ravens on Sunday. 

Quarterback Andy Dalton threw four interceptions. Punter Shawn Powell shanked one that flew just 10 yards and appeared to go into the stands. That let the Ravens start drives in Bengals' territory three times and begin another at their own 35. There was also another drive where the Ravens got inside the Cincinnati 10-yard line, one where the Bengals handed Baltimore 30 yards on penalties.

Put all that together, and it was possible for Baltimore to score 35 points. Instead, the Ravens once again found problems in the red zone, settling for field goals most of the time and letting the Bengals pull away for a 34-17 victory in what turned out to be season finale for the defending Super Bowl champions. 

[RELATED: Instant Analysis: Bengals 34, Ravens 17]

The Ravens finished the day scoring just one touchdown in four trips inside the red zone. They intercepted Dalton on the first two Cincinnati drives but could just get two Justin Tucker field goals for a lead of 6-0 -- which didn't hurt the Bengals too much. 

"We didn't do the things we needed to do to win this game," coach John Harbaugh said in his post-game news conference. "If we would have gotten 14, or even 10, there, it would have made a difference."

The Ravens have not been able to get touchdowns in the red zone in recent weeks, too often settling for field goals as they did in years past. After Corey Graham picked off Dalton on the game's first play and returned it to the Cincinnati 21, the Ravens went three-and-out and watched Tucker kick a 38-yard field goal.

James Ihedigbo got an easy interception on the next drive, and the Ravens drove to the 5-yard line but stopped right there. Tucker added a 22-yard field goal to make it 6-0, which left the door open for the Bengals, who then scored 17 straight points. 

That happened again when Lardarius Webb picked off Dalton in the third quarter. Quarterback Joe Flacco drove the Ravens to the Cincinnati 16 before they stalled again. Tucker kicked a 34-yard field goal that cut the lead to 17-9. 

The short punt from Powell, which really hooked to the left, let the Ravens begin at the Cincinnati 40 and set up the one drive they could finish. Flacco threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown. Ray Rice then ran for the game-tying two-point conversion. But the Bengals scored the game's final 17 points as the Ravens wasted too many chances.

"We just weren’t able to really get any big plays today," Flacco said.