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Andy Dalton scores game-winner on quarterback sneak as Ravens' red-zone defense falters

Ravens coach John Harbaugh talks about the tough loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)

CINCINNATI — The Ravens entered Sunday with the stoutest red-zone defense in the NFL.

However, the defense faltered in close quarters during a 27-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

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The Bengals converted 3 of 5 red-zone scoring opportunities against the Ravens. And quarterback Andy Dalton got the last word as he scored the game-winning touchdown on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal at the Ravens' 1-yard line.

Dalton appeared to be stopped initially before his second effort -- and some shoving from his offensive line -- got him into the end zone.

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"I've always wondered why you would want a guy pinched up the middle with 300-pound men and you think that's a safe situation," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I've been bringing that up at the league meetings for a number of years. Nobody listens to me."

Middle linebacker Daryl Smith and rookie inside linebacker C.J. Mosley were knocked several yards into the end zone by the Bengals' blockers.

"The fact is we got him on the first part, and the second surge is what got him in, got it in for the win, man," Smith said.

The Ravens weren't surprised that the Bengals ran a quarterback sneak in that situation considering that Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, a former Ravens quarterbacks coach, has a tendency to call that play.

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"That's like a typical, standard play, but whatever," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We shouldn't have let them get so close. We should have made them do a fourth-down play from a little bit farther out. That's usually what Hue Jackson does down there. We kind of anticipated the quarterback sneak."

On third down, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata tackled rookie running back Jeremy Hill for no gain.

On the ensuing play, Dalton called an audible on to sneak. He also scored in a similar manner during the first quarter.

"I think he yelled something and checked to it, and I think we were expecting him to pass because they came in with three wides," Ngata said. "They did a good job scheming it."

Ngata had arguably his best all-around game of the season, finishing with eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. He engulfed Dalton for a sack in the fourth quarter, knocking the ball out of his hands. Smith scooped up the fumble and returned it 39 yards down to the Bengals' 8-yard line to set up a touchdown.

awilson@baltsun.com
twitter.com/RavensInsider

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