Joe Flacco went to the bench after only two series. Andy Dalton left at halftime. With little at stake, the Ravens and Bengals gave their regular-season finale more of a preseason feel.
Carlos Dunlap returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday, sending the Cincinnati Bengals to a 23-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in a game that didn’t much matter to either playoff-bound team.
Played like it, too.
The Ravens (10-6) had already clinched their second straight AFC North title, putting them in line to host Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts next weekend.
The Bengals (10-6) were locked into the sixth seed as the final wild-card team. The only question was who they would play in the opening round, and that wouldn’t be answered until games were completed.
So, they went into preseason mode.
Josh Brown kicked three field goals in the second half. Dunlap tipped one of Tyrod Taylor’s passes to himself and returned it for a clinching touchdown with 6:06 left, jumping into the stands and sitting there for several seconds while fans smacked his back.
The Ravens sat some of their banged-up playmakers and pulled Flacco and running back Ray Rice after the second series. Receiver Anquan Boldin, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker Terrell Suggs were inactive, giving them a week to rest.
The Ravens will host the fifth seeded Indianapolis Colts next week during the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs.