CINCINNATI – Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes in the first half – three to A.J. Green – against a defense that has bedeviled him throughout his career, and the Cincinnati Bengals held on for a 34-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night.
Dalton knocked the Ravens (1-1) out of playoff contention last season by throwing a 49-yard touchdown pass in the closing seconds of the final game in Baltimore. On Thursday, he sliced-and-diced a defense that has more often gotten the upper hand in their AFC North rivalry, leading Cincinnati (2-0) to an early 21-point lead.
Heading into the game, Dalton had thrown more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (15) against the Ravens, including a four-interception game at Paul Brown Stadium last season. Dalton finished 24 of 42 for 265 yards, throwing four touchdown passes for only the fifth time in his career.
Green set the tone with touchdown catches of 4, 28 and 7 yards on consecutive possessions, a career high. Upset that he fumbled twice during a 34-23 win at Indianapolis on Sunday, he caught everything near him during the Bengals’ early surge. Green finished with five catches for 69 yards.
Dalton’s 14-yard touchdown throw to Tyler Boyd made it 28-7 late in the first half.
Joe Flacco was sharp in an opening 47-3 win over the Bills, but couldn’t do anything against Cincinnati until the Bengals led by three touchdowns. Flacco threw a pair of touchdown passes, including a 21-yarder to John Brown that cut it to 28-23 with 9:35 left.
Flacco fumbled with 2:42 to go – Shawn Williams stripped the ball from behind – setting up a field goal by Randy Bullock that closed it out. He finished 32 of 55 for 376 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and four sacks.
GLORY DAYSThe Bengals honored their 1988 Super Bowl team at halftime, their last team to go deep into the playoffs. They haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, the sixth-longest drought in league history.
PRIME-TIME PLAYERSThe Ravens had their streak of five straight Thursday night wins snapped. The Bengals are 6-14 in prime-time games since Dalton’s rookie season of 2-11 – 0-5 on Sunday night, 2-5 on Monday night, 4-3 on Thursday night and 0-1 on Saturday night.
SEEING GREENGreen is the fourth Bengals receiver to catch three TD passes in a half, joining Marvin Jones (2013), Chad Johnson (2003) and Isaac Curtis (1973).
FAST STARTThe Bengals are 2-0 for the first time since 2015, when they won the division, and for only the fifth time during coach Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons. They’re the first team to score at least 34 points in each of their first two games since the 2013 Broncos, who reached the Super Bowl, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
FAN ON FIELDA young man in a black shirt ran onto the field in the closing minutes undetected until he got near Dalton. The fan was grabbed by security.
INJURIESRavens: LB C.J. Mosley left in the first quarter with a bruised knee.
Bengals: Preston Brown was inactive with an injured right ankle, leaving Cincinnati without two top linebackers. Vontaze Burfict is suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. ... DE Michael Johnson hurt his left knee in the first quarter and didn’t return. ... Rookie C Billy Price hurt his right ankle in the first quarter and didn’t return.
UP NEXTRavens host the Denver Broncos.
Bengals play at Carolina.