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AFC North Roundup: Bengals Cruise, Ravens Survive Browns

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Pittsburgh Steelers fans needed to wait it out this Sunday, as their squad held down the primetime 8:30 PM slot for a Sunday Night Football showdown against the Miami Dolphins.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of the division remained dormant.

Let’s break down how the AFC North shook out Sunday afternoon.

The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals both improved to 4-3 on Sunday, as the Ravens squeaked out a 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns, while the Bengals defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 35-17.

The Ravens have the tiebreaker over the Bengals for the division lead, as they defeated Cincinnati in Week 5. The Browns, meanwhile, have lost four straight games and are currently in last place in the AFC North at 2-5.

If the Steelers lose to the Dolphins on Sunday Night Football, the Browns would then move up to third place in the division.

So what actually happened in these AFC North games?

The Ravens almost blew another lead in the fourth quarter, as Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah forced running back Justice Hill to fumble, and Isaiah Thomas came up with the loose ball at Cleveland’s 16-yard line.

Trailing 23-20, Jacoby Brissett drove the Browns down the field and set up Cade York for a 55-yard field goal. Guard Michael Dunn was called for a false start, so that pushed York’s attempt back to a 60-yarder.

From there, York’s kick got blocked by Malik Harrison, and the Ravens took over from the 50-yard line. Baltimore drained the clock to 24 seconds after three straight runs, and the Browns got the ball back at their own 20-yard line with just 16 seconds remaining following Jordan Stout’s punt. The Browns were unable to pull off a miracle, and the Ravens secured the win.

Lamar Jackson threw for just 120 yards, but he rushed for 59 yards on 10 attempts. He even converted a fourth-and-1 on a toss play as a running back. The Ravens rushed for 160 yards on 44 attempts (3.6 average) overall. Gus Edwards led Baltimore with 66 yards rushing on 16 carries (4.1 average) and two touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Ravens recorded five sacks and forced two turnovers. The Browns were also 2 of 11 on third down, while the Ravens were 7 of 15 on third down. Justin Tucker nailed a 55-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give the Ravens a 23-13 lead. It marked 62 consecutive made field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime for Tucker.

OK, so how did the Bengals do?

The Bengals’ offense lit up the scoreboard on Sunday against the Falcons, as Cincinnati rocketed out to a 21-0 lead. Two of the touchdowns came off explosive plays: a 60-yard touchdown pass from Joe Burrow to Tyler Boyd on the fourth play of the game and then a 32-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase.

Burrow found Chase again on a 41-yard touchdown to put the Bengals up 28-7 with 49 seconds left in the first half. Burrow finished the game completing 34 of 42 passes (81.0 %) for 481 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a quarterback rating of 138.2.

Burrow threw for 345 yards and three touchdowns … in the first half alone. According to NFL Research, Boyd and Chase became the first wide receiver duo to each have 100+ receiving yards and a touchdown reception in a single half since Randy Moss and Wes Welker did so with the New England Patriots in Week 6 of 2009 (a snowy 59-0 win over the Tennessee Titans).

Boyd finished the game with eight receptions for a career-high 155 yards (19.4 average) and a touchdown. Chase had eight receptions for 130 yards (16.3 average) and two touchdowns. The Bengals racked up 29 first downs and 537 yards of offense, while the Falcons had just 13 first downs and 214 total yards.

Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 8 of 13 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. Of Mariota’s 124 yards passing, 75 yards came on a touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd with 39 seconds left in the third quarter.

What’s next for the AFC North?

The Ravens’ next game comes against the struggling Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football, while the Bengals have a meeting with the Browns in Cleveland on Monday Night Football.

Following Sunday night’s game against the Dolphins, the Steelers will face the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles on the road in Week 8. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

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