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Bengals have nothing at stake in final game


Bengals have nothing at stake in final game

CINCINNATI (AP) With their playoff seeding locked in place, the Bengals have the option of taking it easy with some of their players in the final regular-season game.

They've done it before, and it hasn't turned out so well.

The Bengals (9-6) haven't won a playoff game since 1990, going 0-3 in the postseason under coach Marvin Lewis. He wouldn't talk in any detail Monday about his plans for their concluding game against Baltimore at Paul Brown Stadium, other than to say he's learned from those playoff losses.

In 2009, Cincinnati had clinched the AFC North title before the final game on the road against the Jets. He rested starters during a 37-0 loss to New York. One week later, the Jets came to Cincinnati and won 24-14.

The starters were rested, but their momentum was gone.

``How'd that work out for us?'' Lewis said on Monday. ``I don't really have any beat-up guys. So, the only thing that is at stake is you go out and play to win the game every time we go. That's important.''

A 13-10 victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday clinched the final AFC wild-card spot. Baltimore (10-5) won the AFC North later in the day by beating the Giants.

The Bengals are locked in as the sixth seed, so they'll be on the road for every game in the playoffs. Their destination will be decided by how the final weekend plays out.

The Patriots currently are the No. 3 seed, which would put the Bengals in line for a first-round game at New England. If the Ravens beat the Bengals on Sunday and New England loses at home to Miami, Baltimore would move into the third seed and host Cincinnati in the first round.

There's also a chance the Bengals could open at Houston - where they lost 31-10 in a first-round game last season - or at Denver. The Broncos beat the Bengals 31-23 at Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 4.

There are so many possibilities that the Bengals aren't paying much attention. Lewis is trying to get them focused on something else this week: evening up things with the rival that made them look bad at the start of the season.

The Bengals opened in Baltimore on Monday night and lost 44-13, one of the worst season-opening drubbings in franchise history.

``We didn't kick the season off very good, and now we get to finish it at home,'' Lewis said. ``We don't know who we will play (in the playoffs) or where. We just have to take it on ourselves. More in focus, though, is the Baltimore Ravens. They are a good team that just won our division and a team that beat the snot out of us in the first game.''

The Bengals finish at home against the Ravens for the second straight season. Last year, Baltimore came to town and clinched its first division title since 2006 with a 24-16 victory. The Bengals got a wild card when the Jets and Broncos also lost their final games.

It's only the second time in franchise history the Bengals are going to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. They also did it in 1981 - when they reached their first Super Bowl - and in the strike-shortened 1982 season.

The win at Pittsburgh on Sunday had special significance. Cincinnati hadn't beaten the Ravens or Steelers in the last two seasons, going 0-6 against its biggest rivals.

``That's a huge win for us because people were doubting us,'' defensive tackle Domata Peko said on Monday.

Even though the Bengals can't improve their playoff position, they can add to their momentum. Last season, dropped three of their last five games, then lost to Houston in the first round.

The win in Pittsburgh was Cincinnati's sixth in the last seven games. Although the offense has struggled lately, the defense has held opponents to 13 or fewer points six times during that seven-game stretch.

``In December last year, we were kind of (leveled) off a little bit,'' Peko said. ``This year we started slower, but now we're starting to take off. Those are the teams that are dangerous.''

Notes: Lewis said the Bengals emerged from the game in Pittsburgh with no significant injuries. ... The Ravens game hasn't sold out. The Bengals have failed to sell out two of their last three games, which were blacked out on local television. Last season, they did a buy-one, get-one-free ticket promotion to get the final game against the Ravens sold out.


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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?