But the Bengals, who went 4-12 a year ago, started their comeback late in the third quarter. Reserve running back Bernard Scott broke a tackle by Ed Reed and scored on a 25-yard run to cut the visitors' lead to 17-10.
A 46-yard field goal by Mike Nugent made it a 17-13 game, and the Bengals took their next possession into Ravens' territory. But after catching a pass from Dalton, tight end Jermaine Gresham was hit from behind by Suggs, who jarred the ball loose.
Safety Bernard Pollard recovered it, and three plays later, on third-and-1 from the Ravens' 49, Rice burst through the left side, used fullback Vonta Leach's block of Maulauga, and wasn't touched again until just before he dived into the end zone.
"I'm going to give credit to my offensive line and Vonta Leach," said Rice, who set a team record with 15 touchdowns and established a career high with 1,364 rushing yards. "The first one, I just had to stay on track. Vonta got on a guy, and then I was off to the races. The second one, the same thing."
Said Lewis: "I think it's important anytime Ray touches the ball. That's never changed. When we play that type of game, the result is 12 wins and a first-round bye. I take my hat off to that guy. I've watched that boy since college, and to see him grow now in his fourth year is a special, special thing."
The Ravens' sideline erupted after Rice's second score. The Ravens still had more than five minutes before they truly let out their emotions, and it certainly seemed longer than that with the way the Bengals were effortlessly moving down the field in the second half.
But when the clock finally hit zero, the Ravens had achieved a couple of their goals that they had talked about all season.
"For our team to sweep the division and to go undefeated at home, I'm just so proud of these guys for that," Harbaugh said. "This is one championship. We still have two more that we're shooting for -- the conference championship obviously and a world championship."