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Ravens fall to 0-3 for first time in team history in losing to Bengals

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens fell to 0-3 for the first time in team history because the defense and cornerback Jimmy Smith couldn't contain A.J. Green for a second straight season. As a result, the Ravens lost 28-24 to the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

After the Ravens took the lead twice in the fourth quarter, Green answered with touchdowns each time as Smith failed to bring him down on an 80-yard score and got beat in the end zone on a 7-yard one. Smith, who hadn't allowed a touchdown in a 12-game stretch, has given up one in the last two games.

Last season in Baltimore, Green's 77-yard touchdown with 4:58 remaining won the game for Cincinnati. This marked the Ravens' fourth straight loss to the Bengals.

Green finished with 10 catches for 227 yards, which are the third-most ever against the Ravens.

What it means: This was a punch in the gut to the Ravens' playoff aspirations. Baltimore (0-3) fell three games behind the undefeated Bengals (3-0), and it's not even October. Since 1990, only 2.4 percent of teams that started 0-3 advanced to the postseason. The Ravens are the last active NFL team to go winless in their first three games.

What were they thinking? Left guard Kelechi Osemele's face mask penalty on the Ravens' final drive. The Ravens had converted a fourth down with a completion to Steve Smith, but that was negated because Osemele grabbed the face mask of Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey with 1:46 remaining. Rey was crashing through the line and Osemele reached out and held him with his right hand, which put the Ravens in a fourth-and-17 situation they couldn't convert.

One reason to get excited: Smith still has explosiveness. With first-round pick Breshad Perriman out with knee injury, the Ravens have relied on the 36-year-old receiver. He tied a team record with 13 catches and finished with 186 yards and two touchdowns. Smith now has 31 career catches of 50 or more yards (most among active players). Of those, 19 have produced touchdowns.

One reason to panic: The Ravens' secondary. Baltimore went with Rashaan Melvin at nickelback after Kyle Arrington struggled in Oakland. Then, the Ravens had to go back to Arrington after Melvin allowed two catches for 48 yards (including a 16-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones) and got flagged three times for 24 yards in the first 18 minutes of Sunday's game. And it was a struggle all game to chase down Green.

Fantasy watch: Smith is the unquestioned focal point of the Ravens' passing attack. He has had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Entering this game, Smith ranked fourth in most receiving yards in September since 2011 (1,269).

Ouch: Tight end Crockett Gillmore stood on the sideline for most of the fourth quarter. The team didn't announce an injury. ... Perriman, who was already ruled out Friday, aggravated his right knee injury in pregame warm-ups. ... Free safety Kendrick Lewis passed the concussion protocol and returned after missing a few series.

What's next: The Ravens play at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night. The question is whether Baltimore will face quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was carted off the field in St. Louis on Sunday.