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AFC North: Bengals Survive Tough Test, Browns Upset 49ers



Bengals QB Joe Burrow AFC North

The AFC North went 3-0 during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ bye week. Along with the Baltimore Ravens beating the Tennessee Titans in London this morning, the Cincinnati Bengals outlasted the Seattle Seahawks, 17-13, and the Cleveland Browns pulled off a shocker against the San Francisco 49ers with a 19-17 win. Through six weeks, the Ravens are in first place in the division at 4-2, followed by the Steelers (3-2), Cleveland Browns (3-2) and Cincinnati Bengals (3-3).

The Bengals’ defense came up with two key red zone stops late in the game to secure a win over Seattle. On fourth-and-8 on the Bengals 9 in the final minute, defensive tackle B.J. Hill hit quarterback Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith to force an incompletion and give the ball back to Joe Burrow to take the final kneel down. On the Seahawks’ previous drive, Smith was sacked by Sam Hubbard on fourth-and-goal at the Bengals 6 to give the ball back to Cincinnati.

Following an opening drive touchdown by the Seahawks, the Bengals answered with a 13-play, 69-yard drive that got capped with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to Tyler Boyd. Burrow led the Bengals down the field again on their second drive and connected to Andrei Iosivas for a 3-yard touchdown to give Cincinnati a 14-7 advantage. The Bengals scored touchdowns on its first two possessions but punted six times after the hot start.

Early in the fourth quarter, Cam Taylor-Britt picked off Smith and returned it 24 yards to Seattle’s 34-yard line. Despite the great field position, the Bengals went three-and-out and only mustered a 52-yard field goal by Evan McPherson to enhance their lead to 17-13.

Burrow finished 24 of 35 (68.8%) for 185 yards with two touchdowns, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 88.4. The Bengals got out of the gates quick but were stymied by Seattle’s defense for the rest of the game. That’s been the trend for the Bengals’ offense this season, as coming into Week 6 they ranked 27th in points per game (16.6).

The Browns knocked off the 5-0 49ers on Sunday and handed quarterback Brock Purdy his first loss as an NFL starter. Rookie kicker Jake Moody had a chance to pull off a game-winner, but he missed a 41-yard field goal with six seconds left, leaving the 49ers in complete shock.

The 49ers, who crushed the Dallas Cowboys 42-10 last Sunday night, were looking like a juggernaut. In their five wins, they out-scored their opponents 167-85. San Francisco scored at least 30 points in every game. The Browns’ defense came to play on Sunday, however, and surrendered only 215 total yards and 17 points. The Browns out-gained the 49ers, 334-215. It should be noted, though, that San Francisco All-Pro playmakers Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel both went out with injuries during the game. Samuel departed late in the first quarter with a shoulder injury, while McCaffrey was sidelined in the second half to an oblique injury. McCaffrey caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Purdy on the 49ers’ opening drive.

A the same time, the Browns were without starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, who missed his second straight game with a bruised right shoulder. So it’s not like the Browns were at full strength, either. In his eighth career start, Browns quarterback P.J. Walker struggled immensely, completing 18 of 34 passes (52.9%) for 192 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 45.2. Brock Purdy wasn’t that much better, though. Purdy completed 12 of 27 passes (44.4%) for 125 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 55.3.

Coupled with a 16-yard touchdown run by Kareem Hunt, Dustin Hopkins nailed four field goals for the Browns, the last with 1:40 left, capping a drive helped by a disputed unnecessary roughness call on 49ers free safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. The officials ruled that Gipson made an illegal hit on wide receiver Elijah Moore on third-and-10 to keep the drive alive.

Jerome Ford led the Browns in rushing with 84 yards on 17 carries (4.9 average), while Hunt recorded 47 yards on 12 carries (3.9) and a 16-yard score. Overall, the Browns rushed for 160 yards on 34 carries (4.7 average) against the 49ers’ stout run defense. Amari Cooper led the Browns in receptions and receiving with four catches for 108 yards (27.0 average).


Overall AFC North AFC Head-to-head
Ravens 4-2 2-1 4-2 CIN 1-0, CLE 1-0, PIT 0-1
Steelers 3-2 2-0 3-1 BAL 1-0, CLE 1-0
Browns 3-2 1-2 2-2 BAL 0-1, CIN 1-0, PIT 0-1
Bengals 2-4 0-2 0-3 CLE 0-1, BAL 0-1


Week 7
Sunday, Oct. 22, 1 p.m. Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, Oct. 22, 1 p.m. Detroit Lions at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, Oct. 22, 4 p.m. Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Rams
BYE: Cincinnati Bengals

Week 8
Sunday, Oct. 30, 1 p.m. Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, Oct. 30, 4 p.m. Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, Oct. 30, 4:25 p.m. Baltimore Ravens at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, Oct. 30, 4:25 p.m. Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers

Week 9
Thursday, Nov. 2, 8:15 p.m. Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m. Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns
Sunday, Nov. 5, 8:20 p.m. Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
BYE: Baltimore Ravens