CINCINNATI (AP) No last-minute comeback needed this time. With Cedric Benson topping 100 yards again, the Bengals got ahead early and ground one out.
Cincinnati scored on its first three possessions Sunday, then spent the rest of its time chasing Baltimore’s Joe Flacco around the field, setting up a 17-7 victory that kept the surprising Bengals unbeaten in AFC North games.
The Bengals (6-2) can take control of the division by winning next Sunday at Pittsburgh; the Steelers (5-2) play Denver on Monday night. Cincinnati has won all four games in the division, including a sweep of the Ravens (4-4), who started fast but have self-destructed into mediocrity.
They’ve been at their worst against the Bengals, who took advantage of three Ravens penalties to pull off a winning drive in Baltimore on Oct. 11 for a 17-14 win.
The rematch had very little drama. Benson and the Cincinnati defense made it that way.
Benson was coming off the best game of his career: 189 yards against his former Bears team, a dominating performance that sent Cincinnati into its bye on an upbeat note. Refreshed by a weekend off, he was at it again, running for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Up 17-0 at halftime, it was only a matter of holding on. The Bengals did, with a lot of help from the self-destructive Ravens, who had 80 yards in penalties and missed a field goal. Their last chance slipped away when Flacco was sacked on three consecutive plays.