After chippy Week 18 game, Ravens vs. Bengals playoff rematch could be more intense – The Denver Post


Once the Ravens opted to rest several key players last week against the Bengals in Cincinnati and the hosts took an early lead, the game’s outcome became more or less decided. It almost acted as a rehearsal for the all-important playoff game to come the following week.

But the game’s meaning did not match its outsized intensity. Even as backups and rookies saw significant time in Cincinnati’s 27-16 win, there were scrums, contentious on-field chatter and, this week, finger-pointing of unsportsmanlike behavior.

Some Bengals have badmouthed the Ravens. Cincinnati cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt told The Athletic that the Ravens’ play was “cheap” and added that even though the Bengals won, “we owe them.”

“It was a lot of late stuff,” Taylor-Britt said of perceived transgressions by Baltimore players. “Just after the play, doing dirty stuff you shouldn’t do in football. Aiming at guys’ legs and stuff and other dirty hits. We don’t play like that. We’re gonna remember that.”

If last week — which, by the end, carried all the weight of a preseason scrimmage — included unpleasant exchanges and accusations of unfair play, this Sunday night showdown — the first playoff matchup between the AFC North rivals — figures to be downright hostile.

The wild-card game will mark the third time the Ravens and Bengals have played this season and the second time in as many weeks. It took a rarity to set up such a matchup: Sunday will mark the first time since the 2009 season that two NFL teams will play each other successive weeks with the same team as host, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“I’ve never played anybody back-to-back before,” Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said.

Ravens safety Chuck Clark noted that it’s similar to 2018, when the Ravens faced the Chargers in the season’s penultimate game and then played them again, two weeks later, in the playoffs. He said the rivalry between the divisional foes has picked up in recent years and, when asked about animosity in the previous game, pointed toward the upcoming one.

“If they felt that way,” Clark said of the Bengals’ comments, “they [the referees] should’ve called the flags. We play again on Sunday.”

Oftentimes when there is bad blood between teams, it can be weeks, months or even years before they face off again. Not in this case. Just days after a heated game, the teams will be back on the same turf with a spot in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs hanging in the balance.

Ravens inside linebacker Patrick Queen, like Clark, directed any animosity toward the next game.

“We’ll see Sunday night. If there’s smoke, there’s smoke. We’re not running from anybody. If you feel like people were doing things dirty — you weren’t at the same time?” Queen said. “If you win it, you can talk. You have the right to talk. But now is a new opportunity for us to go out there and handle business.”

Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said after Sunday’s game that the intensity was a preview of the playoff matchup.

“The chippiness is just part of the game. That’s emotion. They want it just as bad as we do. We want it as bad as you can want it,” he said.

On one play Sunday afternoon, Bengals reserve lineman Jackson Carman blocked Ravens outside linebacker Tyus Bowser into the Baltimore sideline, prompting a scrum. After other plays, Ravens and Bengals players had heated exchanges.

Ravens inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who on Tuesday signed a record five-year extension worth a reported $100 million, flipped a football at star Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase at one point on Sunday and then ran straight into him while celebrating a defensive stop.

“He did that on purpose,” Chase told Cincinnati reporters Wednesday. “It’s all right, we got something for that.”

When asked Wednesday about the game’s animosity and some of the Bengals’ comments, Smith just smiled.

“See you Sunday night,” he said.

Wild-card round

Ravens at Bengals

Sunday, 8:15 p.m.

TV: Chs. 11, 4

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

Line: Bengals by 10



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