CINCINNATI — The Bengals' pleading and promotions finally got them a full stadium.
Cincinnati announced on Wednesday it had sold out its final regular-season game against the Baltimore Ravens, only the second time the Bengals have filled Paul Brown Stadium this season. The other time was when Pittsburgh brought thousands of fans.
Getting a full stadium was a priority for the Bengals (9-6), who secured only their third winning record in 21 years by beating Arizona last week. A win over the Ravens (11-4) on Sunday would secure the final AFC wild card berth.
Only 41,273 showed up for the 23-16 win over Arizona on Saturday, a typical crowd this season. The Bengals announced after the game that they would offer a buy-one, get-one-free promotion to season ticket holders for the final game. Players practically begged fans to come and support them.
After two days of offering cut-rate tickets, they sold out the 65,500-seat stadium for only the second time in the last 12 games.
"It's a great thing," defensive lineman Domata Peko said. "When everyone in 'The Jungle' gets up, standing and cheering, it's as loud as it gets. Hopefully the house is rocking this weekend and we'll put on a show for everybody."
The Bengals said some club seats and single seats were still available, but enough tickets have been sold to meet NFL requirements for lifting the local television blackout.
The Ravens can clinch the AFC North title and a first-round bye with a victory on Sunday. If they lose and Pittsburgh (11-4) beats Cleveland, the Steelers would win the division and Baltimore would get a wild card.
There's a lot at stake for both teams.
"Just to have everyone here in Cincinnati wanting to come out for this game, I think that's something we've been wanting and been trying to get for a while," quarterback Andy Dalton said. "I'm just happy everybody responded to it. It's going to be a fun atmosphere, and we're excited about it."