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Joe Flacco, Browns Fall to Rams; Steelers Stay in 2nd in AFC North



Steelers Ravens Browns QB Joe Flacco

Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco was unable to lead the Browns to a victory in his first start in 11 months, as the Los Angeles Rams routed Cleveland, 36-19, at SoFi Stadium on Sunday. With the Baltimore Ravens on their bye week and the Pittsburgh Steelers losing as well on Sunday — the standings in the AFC North remain the same — Ravens (9-3), Steelers (7-5), Browns (7-5) and Cincinnati Bengals (5-6). The Steelers hold the tiebreaker over the Browns due to a better division record. The Bengals take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football.

The 38-year-old Flacco wasn’t awful, but he threw an interception late in the game that spiraled into a fourth-quarter collapse for Cleveland. That was the turning point of the game. Trailing 20-19 with 6:32 remaining, Flacco’s deep pass intended for Elijah Moore was underthrown and got picked off by free safety John Johnson III. Five plays later, Matthew Stafford connected to Cooper Kupp for a 3-yard touchdown extend the Rams lead to 27-19 with 3:48 remaining.

The Browns failed to rally and turned the ball over on downs. Rams running back Kyren Williams then capped a five-play, 30-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown to give Los Angeles a 34-19 lead. Aaron Donald and Kobie Turner split a sack on Flacco in the end zone for a safety to seal the win.

Overall, Flacco completed 23 of 44 passes (52.4%) for 254 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 75.4. Flacco, who was filling in for rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson (concussion), was the fourth quarterback to start for the Browns this season. It was announced on Nov. 15 that starting quarterback Deshaun Watson needed season-ending shoulder surgery. Flacco was signed on Nov. 20 to the practice squad and elevated to the active roster this week after Thompson-Robinson suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s loss at Denver.

They Rams had their way with the Browns’ defense, as Los Angeles compiled 399 yards of offense and Matthew Stafford threw for 279 yards and tossed three touchdowns. The Browns came into Sunday’s game with the No. 1 ranked defense, allowing just 247.9 yards per game. They also had the No. 1 pass defense, surrendering only 142.0 yards per game. All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett (shoulder) was active but he barely played. So that certainly could have played a role in the Browns not having any sacks and the overall bad performance by the defense.

At 7-5, the Browns are still in the AFC playoff picture, currently holding the seventh seed. The Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Browns and Houston Texans are all 7-5. The Texans are on the outside looking in right now as the eighth seed. The Steelers are the fifth seed and Indianapolis currently holds the sixth seed.

The Steelers host the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football in Week 14. Next Sunday during the 1 p.m. time slot, the Browns play the Jaguars in Cleveland, the Bengals host the Colts and the Ravens are home against the Rams.


Overall AFC North AFC Head-to-head
Ravens 9-3 3-2 6-3 CIN 2-0, CLE 1-1, PIT 0-1
Steelers 7-5 3-1 4-3 BAL 1-0, CLE 1-1, CIN 1-0
Browns 7-5 3-2 5-3 BAL 1-1, CIN 1-0, PIT 1-1
Bengals 5-5 0-4 1-5 CLE 0-1, BAL 0-2, PIT 0-1


Week 14
Thursday, Dec. 7, 8:15 p.m., New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, Dec. 10, 1 p.m., Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Begnals
Sunday, Dec. 10, 1 p.m., Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns
Sunday, Dec. 10, 1 p.m., Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens

Week 15
Saturday, Dec. 16, 1 p.m., Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals
Saturday, Dec. 16, 4:30 p.m., Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, Dec. 17, 1 p.m., Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns
Sunday, Dec. 17, 8:20 p.m., Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 16
Saturday, Dec. 23, 4:30 p.m., Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, Dec. 24, 1 p.m., Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
Monday, Dec. 25, 8:15 p.m., Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers

Week 17
Thursday, Dec. 28, 8:15 p.m., New York Jets at Cleveland Browns
Sunday, Dec. 31, 1 p.m., Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, Dec. 31, 4:05 p.m., Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, Dec. 31, 4:25 p.m., Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs

Week 18
TBD, Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
TBD, Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals