CINCINNATI -- The preliminaries are over for the playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals who now can focus on ending their postseason victory drought.
"We've been here before," said running back Jeremy Hill. "There's a lot more at stake. We need to get over that hump. And everyone in this locker room is willing to do whatever it takes to get there."
Hill rushed for 96 yards and touchdown and quarterback AJ McCarron overcame a slow start to toss two touchdown passes, helping the Cincinnati Bengals wrap up the regular season with a 24-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals (12-4) reached 12 wins for the third time in franchise history. The other two seasons (1981, 1988) both resulted in Super Bowl appearances.
Cincinnati, which hasn't won a playoff game since Jan. 6, 1991, was denied a first-round bye in the postseason when Denver defeated San Diego on Sunday night.
The Bengals now will host the AFC North division rival Pittsburgh Steelers next weekend at a time to be determined. The teams split two hotly-contested matchups this season.
"You have to rise to the occasion," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of facing his team's bitter rival. "It's time to right the ship, you know, an exorcism."
"Early in the football game, he was a little amped up and he was a little quick with some throws," Lewis said. "He settled down and made some nice throws."
Baltimore (5-11) failed to finish the season on a positive note.
Quarterback Ryan Mallett, making his second Ravens start, passed for 292 yards and a touchdown but also had a pair of interceptions.
After passing for career-high 274 yards in his Baltimore debut last week in a win over Pittsburgh, Mallett had pass completions of 17, 18 and 20 yards in the first half on Sunday.
But Baltimore could manage only three field goals in the half.
"There were a lot of plays to be made out there," said Mallett. "I turned the ball over. I didn't give myself a big chance with that. (Bengals) stopped the run, they got pressure. You've got to give them credit."
The Ravens had a touchdown negated by replay when it was ruled receiver Jeremy Butler did not corral Mallett's low throw before scampering 32 yards into the end zone.
Baltimore settled for a 52-yard field goal by Justin Tucker who earlier made good on a 28-yarder to make the score 6-0.
The Bengals didn't advance into Baltimore territory until late in the first half when McCarron found newly activated tight end Tyler Eifert for a 22-yard touchdown and a 7-6 lead with 1:49 left. It was Eifert's first touchdown reception since Nov. 29 against St. Louis after missing three games due to injury.
A 49-yard field goal by Tucker on the final play of the half put Baltimore ahead 9-7 at halftime.
Cincinnati's defense produced the first big play of the second half when linebacker Vontaze Burfict made a diving interception at the Ravens' 33.
"I should've thrown it away," Mallett said of Burfict's second interception this season.
Moments later, an acrobatic catch by receiver A.J. Green who tapped his toes inbounds for a 5-yard touchdown put the Bengals ahead 14-9.
On fourth-and-1 at the Baltimore 38 late in the third quarter, Hill burst through the line then dove into the end zone to complete his longest run from scrimmage this season and put the Bengals ahead 21-9.
"That was a big play in the game," said Lewis. "Jeremy has played well. We needed him to be more decisive today."
The Ravens never seriously challenged despite converting 12 of 20 third-down conversions, but couldn't mount a rally against the Bengals' defense.
Cincinnati won for the first time since 1995 without converting a third-down conversion (0-for-9).
The Bengals players didn't bite when asked about a potential matchup with Pittsburgh which wasn't made official until later Sunday evening.
"I don't want to talk about it," said cornerback Adam Jones. "We'll see what happens."
NOTES: Bengals TE Tyler Eifert was active for the first time since suffering a concussion on Dec. 13 against the Steelers. Eifert also missed one game with a neck injury. ... With Bengals HB Ryan Hewitt out with a knee injury, OG Jake Fisher was moved to H-back and given uniform No. 44. ... Bengals LB Emmanuel Lamur left in the second quarter with a left knee injury and did not return. ... Ravens QB Jimmy Clausen was inactive for the second straight week and Matt Schaub was listed as the backup. ... Bengals QB Andy Dalton is expected to meet with doctors on Monday to determine whether the cast on his fractured right thumb can be removed. Dalton's status for the playoffs is uncertain.