Along with the Pittsburgh Steelers squeaking out a 19-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the three other AFC North teams were all victorious. In the 1 p.m. time slot, the Baltimore Ravens pulled off a 10-9 win over the Denver Broncos without Lamar Jackson, while the Cleveland Browns defeated the Houston Texans, 27-14, in Deshaun Watson’s regular-season debut after serving an 11-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. In the late afternoon game, the Cincinnati Bengals recorded an impressive 27-24 win over the AFC top-ranked Kansas City Chiefs. Cincinnati has now won four consecutive games.
The seedings in the AFC North remain the same with all four teams winning — Ravens (8-4), Bengals (8-4), Browns (5-7) and Steelers (5-7). The Ravens have the tiebreaker over the Bengals since they beat Cincinnati in Week 5. Likewise, the Steelers are behind the Browns since they lost to Cleveland in Week 3.
Jackson suffered a left knee injury late in the first quarter after being sacked by outside linebacker Jonathan Cooper. Tyler Huntley took over at quarterback with the Ravens trailing 3-0. On his first drive, Huntley led the Ravens on a 10-play, 62-yard drive that concluded with a 26-yard field goal by Justin Tucker to tie the game at 3-3. After trading possessions, Brandon McManus kicked a 41-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 6-3 lead at halftime.
It was an old-fashioned defensive game in Baltimore with Jackson out and the Broncos having a historically bad offense. McManus kicked a 50-yard field goal late in the third quarter to put the Broncos up 9-3. After two failed offensive possessions, the Ravens put together a 16-play, 91-yard drive that got capped by a 2-yard Huntley rushing touchdown to go up 10-9 with 28 seconds remaining. The Broncos got in field goal range, but McManus’ 63-yard kick was no good, and the Ravens escaped with a one-point victory. Huntley fared pretty well in relief, completing 27 of 32 passes (84.4%) for 187 yards with no touchdowns, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 78.0. Huntley also rushed for 41 yards on 10 carries (4.1 average) and a touchdown.
To say the least, Deshaun Watson was rusty in his first game of the season, completing 12 of 22 passes (54.5%) for 131 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception, and a dreadful quarterback rating of 53.4. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said after the game that Watson’s teammates “have his back and he’ll be better the next time.” As excepted, Watson received a heavy dose of boos in Houston.
The Browns managed to rush for 174 yards on 38 carries (4.6 average), but they had no offensive touchdowns. Cleveland scored 21 points off special teams and defense. Trailing 5-0, Donovan Peoples-Jones got things started with a 76-yard punt return touchdown to put the Browns up 7-5 with 3:41 remaining in the first half. Browns cornerback Denzel Ward followed with a 4-yard scoop-and-score with 10:10 left in the third quarter. Texans quarterback Kyle Allen was stripped by linebacker Tony Fields II on the play. Fields then pretty much sealed the game with a 16-yard pick-six off Allen to increase Cleveland’s lead to 24-8 with 9:30 remaining.
Joe Burrow put on a clinic against the Chiefs, completing 25 of 31 passes (80.6%) for 286 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a stellar 126.6 quarterback rating. Burrow also had a 4-yard rushing touchdown. Burrow is now 3-0 against Patrick Mahomes, all three wins came within the last year. The Bengals defeated the Chiefs on Jan. 2, 2022, and in the AFC Championship Game later in the month.
The Bengals jumped out to a 14-3 lead, but a Jerick McKinnon 2-yard touchdown reception from Mahomes made it a 14-10 game with 2:23 remaining in the first half. Running back Isiah Pacheco gave the Chiefs their first lead of the game at 17-14 by rushing for an 8-yard touchdown with 12:03 left in the third quarter. Following a 36-yard field goal by Evan McPherson to tie the game, Mahomes rushed for a 3-yard touchdown to put the Chiefs back up at 24-17. McPherson responded with a 41-yard field goal to cut the Chiefs lead to 24-20 with 14:47 left in the fourth quarter. Kansas City then started to imploded, as Travis Kelce fumbled after a 19-yard catch and Germaine Pruitt recovered the loose ball at the Chiefs’ 26-yard line. The Bengals responded with a 10-play, 53-yard drive that got capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to running back Chris Evans to put Cincinnati up 24-17.
On the ensuing drive, Harrison Butker’s 55-yard field goal went wide right, and Cincinnati took over from their own 37-yard line with 3:24 remaining. Mahomes never got the ball back, however, as the Bengals converted three first downs to run out the clock. The dagger was a 14-yard completion by Burrow to Tee Higgins on third-and-11 from the Chiefs’ 28-yard line.
The Steelers will host the Ravens next Sunday, while the Browns square off with the Bengals in Cincinnati. Both games are at 1 p.m. As of right now, Jackson’s status is up in the air against the Steelers.