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State of the AFC North: Week 5

The Browns picked up a big win over Baltimore, while the Steelers and Bengals rolled to victories.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens were the only AFC North team who failed to pick up a victory in Week 5, falling to the Browns in a low-scoring, defensive affair. Neither team played particularily well, but Cleveland survived in overtime to win 12-9.

Baltimore still possesses second place in the division, but now sits a game behind the Bengals at 3-2. Cincinnati overcame a slow start to defeat the Dolphins at home, 27-17. The Bengals are now 4-1 on the season.

The Steelers demise was greatly exaggerated. Pittsburgh bounced back after an ugly loss to Baltimore, rolling the explosive Atlanta Falcons at home. Both the Steelers and Browns improved to 2-2-1, and remain tied for third in the division.

Ravens fall to Browns: 9-12

Offense falls back to earth

Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense could not replicate their success through the first four weeks of the season. In a tough road environment in Cleveland, Baltimore was stifled by the Browns defense.

The final numbers don’t look awful, as the Ravens managed to gain 410 total yards and 25 first downs. However, they fail to tell the whole story. Baltimore failed to capitalize on good field position and missed several opportunities.

The Ravens averaged 4.9 yards per play on Sunday and converted just 4/16 third down attempts. They failed to find the endzone, as well, and it was an overall ugly offensive showing after a big Week 4 victory.

Unbalanced attack

Despite a close-knit contest, the Ravens opted to go pass-heavy against the Browns and it proved to be ineffective.

The running game was effective early on, lead by Alex Collins. Collins picked up 42 yards on his first four carries and looked elusive. It wasn’t easy sledding after that, but both Collins and Javorius Allen averaged over 4.0 YPC on the day.

Flacco threw the ball a whopping a 56 times, completing just over 50% of his passes. He averaged 5.3 yards per throw and threw a costly interception in the red zone. He wasn’t helped by three dropped passes, but it was a poor performance.

Browns defeat Ravens: 12-9

Defense comes up big

After being lit up by Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders offense to the tune of 45 points, the Browns defense bounced back in a big way. Behind a raucous, energetic home crowd, Cleveland limited the Ravens to just three field goals.

The Ravens offense had performed well entering the contest, ranking top-ten in total yards and passing offense. However, they were not able to find success against the Browns.

Linebackers Jamie Collins Sr. and Christian Kirksey were all over the field, tying for he team-lead with 12 tackles a piece. Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward also continues to impress, recording an interception and three pass deflections.

Baker Mayfield gets the job done

Against one of the top-ranked defenses in the NFL, Baker Mayfield held his own and made some key throws down the stretch. It was a far better performance than the four-turnover outing he registered in Week 4.

Mayfield threw an interception on the Browns opening drive, but settled in nicely as the game went along. The offensive line allowed five sacks and the running game could not get much going, but Baker still managed to be effective.

It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but Mayfield finished with 342 yards, one touchdown and a quarterback rating of 81.7. He did enough to put the Browns in a position to earn a key victory, and is now 1-1 as a starter.

Steelers defeat Falcons: 41-17

Brown, Connor lead the way

Perhaps learning of Le’Veon Bell’s inevitable return motivated James Connor. After failing to get much going over the past three weeks, Connor was a key catalyst in the Steelers Week 5 victory.

Connor finished with 185 scrimmage yards and two rushing touchdowns. Antonio Brown, whose been usually quiet for his standards this season, finally had a breakthrough performance.

Brown recorded six receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, hooking up with Ben Roethlisbeger on a 47-yard scoring play. These two remain arguably the best QB-WR duo in the league.

Defense bounces back

The Steelers defense has not been good this season, ranking near the bottom of the league in almost every major statistical category. In Week 5, however, they managed to slow down one of the most explosive offenses in the league.

Atlanta found some success through the air, but were completely stifled on the ground. The Falcons, despite getting Devonta Freeman back from injury, rushed for just 62 yards on 19 carries.

T.J. Watt had an outstanding performance, recording eight tackles and three sacks. Julio Jones was limited to just five catches and 62 yards, and Calvin Ridley caught 4 passes for 38 yards. Atlanta scored only seven points in the second half.

Bengals defeat Dolphins: 27-17

Cincy overcomes big deficit

After a huge road win against Atlanta, the Bengals returned home to a favorable matchup against the Dolphins. For much of this game, however, it was Miami who looked like the superior football team.

The Bengals offense came out flat and were held scoreless in the first half. Miami held a 17-3 lead entering the fourth quarter, but squandered any chance of victory with turnovers and poor execution.

Cincinnati scored a whopping 24 points in the fourth quarter and held on to earn a ten-point victory. A.J. Green led the way with another productive outing, catching six passes for 112 receiving yards.

Joe Mixon returns

After missing the past two games with a knee injury, second-year running back Joe Mixon returned on Sunday and provided a big boost for the Bengals offense.

Mixon picked up where he left off, continuing his impressive start to the season. He grinded out 93 yards on 22 carries, and corralled an acrobatic 18-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.

If Mixon can continue to run the ball effectively, the Bengals are a balanced, dangerous offensive unit. They’ll need him to do so next week, as a key divisional showdown with the Steelers awaits.