Baltimore Sun staffers analyze the Ravens' 23-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: I have no issues with how coach John Harbaugh handled this game. The Ravens have been banged up all year and they couldn't afford to lose more key players. That's about all I've got on the game because it was virtually meaningless aside from giving young players an opportunity. Whether they wanted the matchup with the Colts or not, the Ravens are going to have to play really well to win. The Colts are playing with great emotion and purpose, and the Ravens will have to match that or they'll be starting the offseason early.
Aaron Wilson, reporter: The Ravens lost a relatively meaningless regular-season finale Sunday as quarterback Joe Flacco was on the bench by the end of the first quarter with backup Tyrod Taylor replacing him. The priorities were: rest injured players, avoid having more injuries occur to key players and evaluate young players. Winning the game was on the list somewhere, but getting ready for the playoffs was what the Ravens were primarily after.
Edward Lee, reporter: With six starters deactivated before Sunday's game and several others like Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Ed Reed getting pulled in the first quarter, the regular-season finale against the Bengals turned into a dress rehearsal for reserves like Tyrod Taylor, Bernard Pierce and Deonte Thompson. We learned that Taylor can fare well in spot duty or in a pinch, but he's not ready to be an every-day starter. The Ravens won't put much into the loss to the Bengals, but if they fall to the Colts in the first round of the AFC playoffs, there will be a lot of teeth-gnashing over how the team missed an opportunity to take a two-game winning streak into the postseason rather than losing four of its last five.
Ron Fritz, sports editor: Sure glad the final exhibition game is over. Now the Ravens can get ready for the real games. This one was painful to watch, even between naps.
Mike Preston, columnist: Couldn't they have flipped a coin to decide the winner of this game?Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun