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Rex Burkhead's big day lifts Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens

By Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange

Cincinnati Bengals' Rex Burkhead (33) ushed for a career-high 119 yards and two touchdowns, and Andy Dalton passed for 226 yards and a score, lifting the Bengals to a 27-10 victory at Paul Brown Stadium. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI
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CINCINNATI -- Two weeks ago the Baltimore Ravens had everything in their grasp. But, an AFC North title and the chance for another Super Bowl run faded in the closing seconds of a tough loss at Pittsburgh last week.
On Sunday in Cincinnati, it was apparent that the emotional fallout from the loss to the Steelers had taken its toll on the Ravens.
Rex Burkhead rushed for a career-high 119 yards and two touchdowns, and Andy Dalton passed for 226 yards and a score, lifting the Bengals to a 27-10 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.
With nothing to play after last week's loss, the Ravens (8-8) limped to the finish with a lackluster performance on Sunday. Baltimore lost three of its last four games preventing its seventh winning season in nine years.
"We're going to have to live with this season until we get together for training camp," said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco."Leaving it out there and coming up short (last week) was tough. You want to go out there and fight. You can't use last week's game as an excuse."
Flacco was 32 of 49 for 267 yards and an interception to finish with a single-season team record 4,317 yards. But, individual accomplishments weren't on the minds of the Ravens following Sunday's loss.
"I'm never happy with any losing result," said head coach John Harbaugh. "On an emotional level, the team wasn't where it had been in the past. It has to do a lot with what happened last week."
Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. played his final game on Sunday after 16 seasons. He had three catches for 34 yards, finishing with 14,731 yards and 81 touchdowns in his career.
"He's been here for 16 years and continues to play at a high level every game," said Harbaugh. "He showed our guys how to compete and how to play the game."
Cincinnati (6-9-1) avoided its first 10-loss season since 2010, but snapped a streak of five straight playoff appearances.
Both teams were eliminated from playoff contention, so Sunday's game was meaningless except for those players looking to solidify themselves for 2017.
Burkhead, a free-agent following this season, got a chance to showcase his skills Sunday with Jeremy Hill out injured.
Burkhead had 27 yards on four carries including his first career touchdown on a 5-yard run on the Bengals' first possession.
"Today was huge for me, I'm not going to back down and say it's not," Burkhead said. "I like Cincinnati, I love it here. I hope I can stay here. We'll see what happens."
Baltimore got on the board with a 30-yard field goal from Justin Tucker.
But Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah caught a 1-yard TD pass, also his first career TD, from Dalton making the score 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Dalton completed his first 10 passes on Sunday for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Randy Bullock's 23-yard field goal extended Cincinnati's lead to 17-3 in the second quarter.
Baltimore's most promising drive of the first half ended with Shawn Williams picking off a Flacco pass in the end zone after the Ravens had first and goal at the 2-yard line.
Bullock's 24-yard field goal just before halftime made the score 20-3.
"I'm extremely happy for our guys and how we came out and played today," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. "That's a great way to end this season and hopefully kick off 2017."
Dalton finished the first half 14 of 17 for 181 yards.
Cincinnati didn't punt until its first possession of the third quarter.
There are reports that Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg might be on the hot seat. The first half Sunday didn't help with 155 total yards and a field goal.
Flacco had a pass batted down on fourth-and-2 at the 8 to deny them another scoring chance late in the third quarter.
Baltimore reached the end zone with 8:37 left when Breshad Perriman turned a short crossing route into a 39-yard gain to set up Kenneth Dixon's 1-yard plunge two plays later.
"We didn't play our best football," Flacco said. "That's disappointing. Win or lose there's always that emotional roller coaster. We expected to come here and play well."
-- Ravens QB Joe Flacco eclipsed Vinny Testaverde's single-season team record for passing yards on Sunday, finishing with 4,317. Testaverde had 4,177 in 1996.
-- Cincinnati's defense did not allow a touchdown in 23 consecutive first-half drives to close the season. ... Bengals QB Andy Dalton reached the 4,000-yard mark for the second time in his career, first since 2013.
-- Ravens K Justin Tucker remained tied with the Vikings' Blair Walsh with an NFL single-season record 10 field goals of 50 yards or more.
-- Bengals WR A.J. Green missed the final six games of the season with a hamstring injury leaving him 36 yards shy of joining Randy Moss as the only NFL players with 1,000 yards in his first six seasons.

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