BALTIMORE — Their season hanging in the balance after having victory snatched away on a final desperate play of regulation, the Baltimore Ravens responded like champions.
Victimized by a desperation 51-yard touchdown pass to force overtime, the defending Super Bowl winners edged Cincinnati, 20-17, on Justin Tucker’s 46-yard field goal with 5:27 left in OT Sunday.
‘‘It’s a disappointment,’’ coach John Harbaugh said of A.J. Green’s catch as the clock ran out in the fourth quarter. ‘‘But you don’t get disheartened. You still have a chance to win the game.’’
And so Baltimore did, after blowing a 17-0 halftime lead.
Bidding to end a three-game skid and remain in the playoff hunt, the Ravens committed three turnovers and managed only 189 yards of offense.
‘‘We’re not playing great right now,’’ Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco conceded, ‘‘but we’re doing the best we can to win.’’
The tense win thrust the Ravens (4-5) into a second-place tie in the AFC North, just one game behind Cincinnati (6-4) in the loss column. It was Baltimore’s first victory since Oct. 6.
Four of the Ravens’ five losses have come by a combined 14 points. It seemed like this one was headed in that direction after Andy Dalton forced overtime with a heave to Green to end the fourth quarter.
Green positioned himself behind the pack and caught the deflection after it flicked off the hand of Ravens safety James Ihedigbo, who earlier had the first two interceptions of his career.
‘‘I was just looking for someone to tap the ball so I could catch it,’’ Green said.
Ravens cornerback Corey Graham had a different reaction.
‘‘I looked back and saw Green with the ball in his hands and I couldn’t believe it,’’ he said.
But Baltimore persevered.
‘‘The thing I’m most proud of is the heart of our guys,’’ Harbaugh said. ‘‘They showed the heart of champions. Where this will lead us, we’ll find out.’’
Who knows if the Ravens can rebound from their poor start to make the postseason for a sixth straight year? This much is certain: It would have been much tougher if they were 3-6.
Flacco threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, and Ray Rice gained a mere 30 yards on 18 carries. And still, the Ravens prevailed.
‘‘Sometimes you have to win by any means necessary,’’ Rice said. ‘‘Winning heals a lot. Now we’ve got to get on a roll to get back where we want to be.’’
Despite their comeback, the Bengals played poorly, getting hurt by nine penalties totaling 134 yards.
Dalton went 24 of 51 for 274 yards and three interceptions and was sacked five times as the Bengals lost to Baltimore for the fifth time in six games. And now it’s their turn to lament a run of narrow defeats.
It was the second straight overtime loss for the Bengals, who were coming off a 22-20 defeat at Miami.
The Bengals won the toss before overtime and moved to the Baltimore 33 before Giovani Bernard caught a short pass, reversed field, and was tackled for an 11-yard loss on fourth down.
Baltimore then got a pair of first downs before Tucker kicked the winner.
A gusty afternoon proved troublesome for the Bengals.
Mike Nugent missed a 42-yard field goal into the wind and Dalton repeatedly overthrew his receivers. In the second quarter, Ihedigbo picked off a pass and returned it 37 yards to set up a TD for a 17-0 lead.
Baltimore mustered only 94 yards of offense before halftime, but took advantage of Bengals miscues to put together scoring drives of 53, 58, and 11 yards.