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 carved up 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 .
“We came out hot,” Dalton said. “That’s exactly how we wanted to start the game. That’s a big one — puts us 2-0 to start the year and gives us a leg up in the division.”
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 the fifth time in his career.
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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.
“It just happened to fall that way,” Green said. “We were clicking on all cylinders. We were in a groove.”
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.
“You better bounce back quick on a Thursday night and we didn’t do it quick enough tonight,” Flacco said.
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. Flacco finished 32 of 55 for 376 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and four sacks.