The Pittsburgh Steelers season is on the brink after falling to the Baltimore Ravens, 16-14, on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium, but the Ravens didn’t gain any ground in the AFC North or the AFC playoffs picture.
The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Cleveland Browns, 23-10, at Paycor Stadium. The Ravens currently hold the division lead at 9-4, with the Bengals right behind them at 9-4, as well. Baltimore has the tiebreaker since they beat Cincinnati in Week 5. The two teams will meet again in Week 18, which could decide the division winner. The Steelers remain in the basement of the AFC North at 5-8 (behind the Browns due to a tiebreaker). Pittsburgh hasn’t finished last in the division since 1988 when they went 5-11.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Bengals struck first with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase to give Cincinnati a 7-0 advantage. Cade York got the Browns on the scoreboard with a 26-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game at the 2:59 mark of the second quarter. The Bengals answered with a 9-play, 75-yard drive that got capped by a Samaje Perine 6-yard touchdown run to give the Bengals a 13-3 lead heading into halftime.
On the Bengals’ second drive of the second half, Burrow off a flea-flicker found Trenton Irwin for a 45-yard touchdown to increase Cincinnati’s lead to 20-3. Deshaun Watson responded with his first touchdown pass of the year, connecting to David Njoku for a 13-yard score to cut the deficit to 10 points. Following a 30-yard field goal by Bengals’ kicker Evan McPherson, Jesse Bates III picked off Watson. The Bengals gave the ball back five plays later, however, as Burrow’s pass got intercepted by Deion Jones. On the ensuing possession, Watson got the Browns down to the 6-yard line, but his pass intended for Donovan Peoples-Jones fell incomplete on fourth down, and Cleveland turned the ball over on downs. With 5:28 remaining and it being a two-possession game, the defensive stand pretty much secured the win for the Bengals. Cincinnati has now won five consecutive games.
Watson showed some improvement in his second game of the year, completing 26 of 42 passes (61.9%) for 276 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 79.1. The Bengals shut down the Browns’ running game, as Nick Chubb compiled only 34 yards on 14 carries (2.4 average). Burrow completed 18 of 33 passes (54.5) for 239 yards with two touchdowns, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 85.3. Chase had another standout performance with 10 receptions for 119 yards (11.9 average) and a touchdown.
Cincinnati holds the top Wild Card spot in the AFC, followed by Miami (8-4, yet to play) and the New York Jets (7-6), who lost to the Buffalo Bills. The New England Patriots (6-6, yet to play), Los Angeles Chargers (6-6, yet to play) are on the bubble, with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders both ahead of the Browns and Steelers at 5-8.
In Week 15, the Ravens host the Browns on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., while the Bengals have a 4:25 p.m. matchup with the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Steelers travel to Carolina to play the Panthers on Sunday at 1 p.m.