Hubbard’s 98-yard fumble return lifts the Bengals over the Ravens

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley, right, fumbles for the ball against Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Logan Wilson (55) during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Cincinnati on Sunday. Bengals’ Sam Hubbard recovered the kick and ran it back for a touchdown.

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CINCINNATI — Sam Hubbard returned Tyler Huntley’s fumble 98 yards for a tiebreaker in the fourth quarter as Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens 24-17 in the AFC wild-card game on Sunday night.

On third-and-goal at the 1 with 12 minutes remaining, Huntley tried to go over the marker for the score. But Germaine Pratt picked it up and was picked off by linebacker Logan Wilson.

The ball went to Hubbard on 2nd, and the defensive end ran off the field for the longest return for a touchdown in NFL postseason history. It was also the longest fourth-quarter TD of the postseason.

After the Cincinnati native’s performance, with the crowd of 66,399 at Paycor Stadium still buzzing, Hubbard gasped for oxygen as he sat in the sidelines.

“Just credit to whoever drilled that ball. I was in the right place at the right time,” Hubbard said.

Baltimore got down to the Cincinnati 17 in the final minute, but Kevin Zeitler signaled to hold on and Huntley threw an incompletion into the end zone on the final play.

Playing behind a patchwork offensive line, Burrow passed for 209 yards and a touchdown for the AFC North champions. He also had a 1-yard touchdown a week in the Bengals’ 27-16 win over the Ravens in the regular season finale.

“Hard-fought. That’s how it is in the playoffs, especially when you’re playing a third-division team,” Burrow said. “It’s never going to be easy. They know us. We know them. It’s nice to get the win.”

Next up for Cincinnati (13-4) is a trip to Buffalo for a rematch of the Week 17 game that was canceled after Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field. With Hamlin watching from home, Buffalo advanced Sunday with a 34-31 win over Miami.

Playing again without quarterback Lamar Jackson due to a knee injury, Baltimore (10-8) managed two offensive touchdowns for the first time since Nov. 27. Huntley passed for 226 yards and two TDs, but he also had a costly one.

Hubbard’s dramatic trip to the end zone sent the Ravens into an uncertain offseason focused on the future of Jackson, who is eligible for free agency. The 2019 MVP suffered the injury in a 10-9 win over Denver on Dec. 4 and did not travel with the team to Cincinnati for the playoff game.

Huntley was intercepted by Cincinnati linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither on his second attempt in the postseason opener. The Bengals converted the fumble on Burrow’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase early in the second quarter, but had to settle for a 9-0 lead after Evan McPherson missed the extra point.

After early trouble with Huntley going forward, the Ravens went on a 17-play, 75-yard drive that lasted more than 10 minutes. J.K. Dobbins put Baltimore on the board when he stretched the ball over the goal line for a 2-yard touchdown reception.

A throw by former Baltimore tight end Hayden Hurst set up Justin Tucker’s 22-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half, giving the Ravens a 10-9 halftime lead. The biggest play in the scoring was a 19-yard reception by Josh Oliver that forced Huntley to run back and recover a high snap that slipped out of his hands.

The Bengals lost left tackle Jonah Williams in the first half to a left knee injury. Right-hander La’el Collins and right-hander Alex Cappa were playing without players due to injuries.

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley, right, fumbles for the ball against Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Logan Wilson (55) during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Cincinnati on Sunday. Bengals’ Sam Hubbard recovered the kick and ran it back for a touchdown.

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