- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BALTIMORE — In one exciting jaunt down the sideline, Ed Reed ran his way into the record book and took the heart out of the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Baltimore Ravens standout safety also tweaked his hamstring, which gave him an opportunity to work on his standup routine at the podium after Baltimore’s 44-13 rout on Monday night.

Reed’s 34-yard interception return for a touchdown was the highlight of a solid performance by the Baltimore defense and one of the key plays in the game. The score put the Ravens up 34-13 late in the third quarter and sealed the Bengals‘ fate.

“I think it was part of it,” said Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, who threw the pass.

The interception gave Reed 1,497 yards in interception returns, eclipsing the previous NFL mark of 1,483 by Rod Woodson. Reed’s dash for the end zone was punctuated by a desperate dive at the front pylon in the left corner.

“I wasn’t going to let an O-lineman catch me,” he said with a grin. “That’s why I dove. I strained my hamstring trying to dive. You know, I’m 34 in two hours (at midnight Tuesday). Father Time catches up to you.”

He said the hamstring injury was “minor.”

Joe Flacco had an outstanding game in Baltimore’s no-huddle offense, going 21 for 29 for 299 yards and two touchdowns. That certainly was a huge part of the Ravens‘ 11th straight home win and ninth consecutive victory within the AFC North.

But the defense, playing its first game under coordinator Dean Pees, did its part. Haloti Ngata had two of Baltimore’s four sacks, proving the Ravens just might survive without NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs, who’s out indefinitely with a torn right Achilles tendon.

“We didn’t play perfectly as a defense,” middle linebacker Ray Lewis said, “but when it got to where we needed to make plays, we made the plays we were supposed to make.”

After letting an early 14-point lead dwindle to 17-13, the Ravens pulled away by scoring 24 straight points in just over six minutes. Ray Rice ran for 68 yards and two short scores, but instead of dominating the Baltimore attack in his usual fashion, the running back took a back seat to Flacco.

“Obviously, everything went pretty well for us tonight,” Flacco said.

Not so for the Bengals, who made the playoffs last year without beating a team that qualified for postseason play. In this one, Cincinnati once again came up short against a high-caliber opponent.

“That certainly wasn’t what we expected to have out there today,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “We got outplayed and we got outcoached.”

Defensive tackle Domata Peko said, “They just beat us today, and we’ve got to get better.”

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