Bengals vs. Ravens score, takeaways: Sam Hubbard’s historic TD keeps Cincy’s AFC title defense hopes alive

A Cincinnati native, Sam Hubbard grew up a diehard Bengals fan. On Sunday night, with the Bengals’ AFC title defense facing a huge threat, the hometown kid authored the game-winning play that will go down in both Cincinnati and NFL postseason lore.

With the score tied in the fourth quarter of the Bengals’ Super Wild Card Weekend showdown with Baltimore, Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson jarred the ball loose from Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley’s grasp just short of Cincinnati’s goal line. The loose ball was scooped up by Hubbard, whose 98-yard return — the longest fumble return for a touchdown in playoff history — served as the winning score in the Bengals’ 24-17 win.

Cincinnati then clinched its third win this season over Baltimore when the Bengals defense batted away Huntley’s Hail Mary throw in the end zone on the final play.

Dominated in the game’s opening quarter, Baltimore clawed back to take a 10-9 halftime lead. Baltimore responded to Ja’Marr Chase’s 7-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter with a 17-play drive that was capped off by JK Dobbins’ 2-yard touchdown catch. They took their first lead after Kyle Hamilton’s forced fumble of Hayden Hurst set up Justin Tucker’s field goal just before halftime.

The two teams traded scores in the third quarter before Hubbard provided the game-winning score. Cincinnati will now travel to Buffalo for next week’s AFC divisional round showdown.

Here’s a closer look at the Bengals’ wild win.

Why the Bengals won

Cincinnati overcame the loss of a third starting offensive lineman in as many weeks when Jonah Williams suffered an injury in the first half. Burrow, who was sacked three times in the first half, was taken down just once in the second half.

Baltimore’s defense was mostly solid, but they didn’t have an answer for Chase, who gave Cincinnati a 9-0 lead with his seven-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter. The Pro Bowl wideout finished the game with 84 yards on nine catches.

In what was a theme during the regular season, Burrow didn’t light up the Ravens’ defense the way he did in 2021. Burrow did, however, enjoy his best game of the year against a Ravens’ defense that features defensive backs Hamilton, Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. Burrow completed nearly 72% of his passes while leading three lengthy scoring drives.

Similar to their offense, the Bengals’ defense didn’t have their best game on Sunday night. But they made the big plays in critical moments, highlighted by Hubbard’s record-breaking score. Cincinnati’s defense held Baltimore to 3 of 11 on third down and 1 of 4 in the red zone.

Why the Ravens lost

Give Baltimore credit for giving the defending AFC champions everything they could handle despite playing without former league MVP Lamar Jackson. The Ravens dug themselves out of an early hole by raising their physicality on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore showed considerable resolve after falling behind early and at the start of the second half following Burrow’s 1-yard touchdown run. Three minutes after Burrow’s score, Huntley heaved a 41-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson to even the score heading into the game’s final stanza. At that point, the game was anyone’s to win.

Hubbard’s touchdown, however, changed the complexion of the game after Baltimore had driven 80 yards to the Bengals’ 1-yard-line. The two teams then traded punts before Robinson was unable to corral Huntley’s Hail Mary heave as time expired.

Dobbins did his part with 105 all-purpose yards that included a nifty 27-yard catch that set up Baltimore’s only touchdown of the half. But he was a non-factor during the Ravens’ final three drives, as Cincinnati’s defense put the Ravens’ fate in Huntley’s hands.

Huntley, for his part, rose at the moment in what was just his ninth career start with 226 yards on 17 of 29 passing. He also ran for 54 yards on nine carries.

Turning point/play of the game

Hubbard’s touchdown was a 14-point swing after the Ravens had marched nearly the length of the field. But instead of falling behind, the Bengals never trailed again after Hubbard recorded the fourth-longest defensive score in playoff history.

Hubbard’s scoop-and-score was impressive, but so was the play Wilson made in forcing the ball out of Huntley’s hands before the ball reached the goal line. The play capped off what was a big game for Wilson, who led both teams with 10 tackles.

Quotas

“Go! Run faster. Big time play. Won us the game.” — Burrow, during a postgame interview with NBC on what he was thinking about Hubbard’s game-winning score

“I kind of like going on the road with this team. We’ve got an all we need is us mentality, and I’d go to war with these guys anywhere.” — Hubbard on next week’s matchup in Buffalo

What’s next

The Bengals will face the Bills next Sunday at 3 pm ET. Cincinnati and Buffalo’s Week 17 game was canceled following Damar Hamlin’s medical emergency late in the first quarter. Buffalo led early against Miami on Sunday before holding on for a 34-31 win.

Baltimore will turn its attention to an offseason that promises to be an important one for the Ravens. The biggest offseason storyline in Baltimore will surely be the future of Jackson, who is slated to become a free agent. The Ravens will likely apply the franchise tag on Jackson prior to the start of free agency in order to give the two sides four additional months to hammer out a long-term contract.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *