www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/ravens-insider/bal-instant-analysis-ravens-beat-bengals-to-bring-playoff-football-back-to-baltimore-20120101,0,2465045.story

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Instant analysis: Ravens beat Bengals to bring playoff football back to Baltimore

Ray Rice and Terrell Suggs prove once again to be the Ravens MVPS

7:25 PM EST, January 1, 2012

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Matt Vensel, Sports Blitz: With the Ravens on the ropes, the team's two MVPs, Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice, sealed the AFC North championship with a pair of key plays late in the fourth quarter. Now with two weeks to rest, the Ravens are going to be a tough out in the playoffs, especially if they play all of their games at M&T Bank Stadium.

Kevin Van Valkenburg, reporter: To be honest, I was impressed with the way the Ravens hung on and found a way to win this game, despite some injuries and a reoccurring bout of offensive narcolepsy. Marshal Yanda played well through what I imagine was considerable pain, Ben Grubbs and Matt Birk made some clutch blocks, and Ray Rice continues to prove he deserves big money. It's going to be fun to see a home playoff game in Baltimore again. It's been too long. Whatever happens next, John Harbaugh and his team deserve a hand for achieving one of their goals this year.

Ron Fritz, head of sports: The Ravens were a team that desperately had to avoid a first-round playoff game and the road and they accomplished that mission. When they decide they are going to run the ball, the Ravens are a different team — a winning one. The Bengals are going to be a dangerous team in the playoffs and in future years.

Chris Korman, Ravens editor: Confident from the beginning, the Ravens never deviated from what makes them one of the NFL's best teams. They ran the ball and played attacking defense. There's been only an uneasy peace this year between the team's array of personalities and approaches. You have the ever-edgy Ray Lewis, and the goofy, jubilant Terrell Suggs. Then there's steady John Harbaugh and stoic Joe Flacco. Cam Cameron fits in there somewhere -- fans level him for throwing too much, for being boring, for not being hard-nosed, for being uncreative -- and Ray Rice is simply one of the best football players alive. It's something of a sports cliche, but it took time for all these parts to meld together. The team doesn't seem to be peaking, as the saying goes, but it does seem to have accomplished something more organic, and probably more important: the Ravens have really figured out how to win their way.