Rapid Reaction: Bengals 17, Ravens 7

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals took one step closer Sunday to claiming the AFC North title.

One of the NFL's biggest surprises, the Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens for the second time this season with a 17-7 victory at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati improved to 6-2 and 4-0 in the AFC North, while the Ravens fell to 4-4 and 1-2 in the division.

The Bengals were dominant early by taking a 17-point lead into intermission. Baltimore's secondary struggled mightily against the pass and was either giving up big catches or big penalties to keep Cincinnati's scoring drives alive.

Bengals tailback Cedric Benson (117 yards) also reached triple digits rushing against Baltimore for the second time this season. Cincinnati's defense was aggressive throughout and held the lead despite the Bengals going scoreless in the second half.

Cincinnati, which beat every team in the division at least once, can take command of the AFC North with a win next week over the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2).

Meanwhile, the veteran Ravens are in deep trouble. They've lost four of their last five and desperately need to string together wins in the final eight games to compete for a wild-card berth in a crowded field in the AFC.