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AFC North Roundup: Week 2

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Baltimore is in the driver’s seat after two weeks.

Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Week 2 is in the books as far as the AFC North goes, the end results looked a lot like Week 1. The Ravens jumped out to a 2-0 start after holding off Kyler Murray and the Cardinals at home, fueled by a strong performance from Lamar Jackson. The Bengals were blown out in Zac Taylor’s first game, and the Steelers lost to Seattle by just two points.

Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, suffered a season-ending elbow injury on Sunday, meaning they face an uphill climb to dig out an 0-2 hole. The Browns bounced back with a wire-to-wire victory in New York on Monday night.

Ravens defeat Cardinals: 23-17

Arizona proved to be a far more formidable opponent than the Dolphins, but the Ravens made enough plays to grind out a victory in Week 2. Baltimore never trailed in the contest but the Cardinals applied enough offensive pressure to keep things competitive. Kyler Murray threw for 349 yards and completed 25/40 passes, taking advantage of miscommunications in the Ravens’ secondary. Baltimore is clearly adjusting to life without Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young, and Kliff Kingsbury’s “air raid” attack challenged them.

Ultimately, though, the defense held the Cardinals to field goals on three of their four redzone trips and forced consecutive three-and-outs in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the difference. Lamar Jackson was once again the catalyst offensively, completing 24/37 passes for 274 yards and rushing for a career-high 124 yards on the ground. LJ targeted Mark Andrews (8 REC, 112 YDS) and Marquise Brown (8 REC, 86 YDS) early and often.

Notable injuries: N/A

Defining stat: 7/14 on third down

What’s next: Kansas City Chiefs - Sunday, Sep. 22 (Away)

Bengals fall to 49ers: 41-17

Just a week after nearly defeating the Seahawks, the Bengals took a significant step back in what seemed like a winnable game coming into Sunday. Cincinnati was at home and playing a seemingly inferior opponent than Seattle, but that proved to have an adverse effect. After tying the game up at 7-7 in the first quarter, the Bengals were thoroughly outplayed for the remainder of the contest. The offensive line struggled mightily, giving up four sacks, six quarterback hits, and numerous pressures. Cincinnati’s linebackers had no answers for the 49ers’ rushing attack, either, as they were gashed to the tune of 259 yards.

Andy Dalton eclipsed 300 yards passing for the second consecutive game and tossed two touchdown passes to John Ross III and Tyler Eifert. Ross caught four passes for 112 yards and Tyler Boyd hauled in 10 receptions for 122 yards. Starting RB Joe Mixon struggled again, however, turning 11 carries into 17 rushing yards. Mixon was listed as questionable entering the game nursing an ankle injury. Overall, it was a forgettable performance in the team’s first home opener under head coach Zac Taylor.

Notable injuries: Andre Smith, Kerry Wynn, Carl Lawson, Michael Jordan

Defining stat: Outgained by 256 yards

What’s next: Buffalo Bills - Sunday, Sep. 22 (Away)

Steelers fall to Seahawks: 28-26

Pittsburgh faced another tough matchup against the Seahawks after getting blown out by the defending champs on SNF in Week 1. While the final score was closer this time around, the end result was the same and the Steelers are now 0-2. The biggest storyline was the status of Ben Roethlisberger, who left before the second half with an elbow injury. Big ben reportedly had been dealing with discomfort and inflammation throughout the week, his MRI yesterday determined that he needs season-ending surgery. Starting RB James Conner also suffered an ankle injury and left the game in the fourth quarter.

In Roethlisberger’s place, Mason Rudolph took over and threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to give Pittsburgh a shot. In addition, he completed 12/19 attempts for 112 yards. Rudolph will now be tasked with righting the ship, but the situation behind him is murky. The Steelers traded away Josh Dobbs a few weeks ago, leaving Devlin Hodges, who was called up from the practice squad on Monday, as the only other QB on the roster.

Pittsburgh made the headlines once again last night when news broke that they’d agreed to a trade with the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick. In return, the Steelers gave up a 2020 first-round pick. It’s a pricey haul, but Fitzpatrick will provide a boost to a secondary that needs one and brings versatility to the table, as he can play both slot corner and safety.

Notable injuries: Ben Roethlisberger, James Connor

Defining stat: Outgained by 163 yards

What’s next: San Francisco 49ers - Sunday, Sep. 22 (Away)

Browns defeat Jets: 23-3

After a humiliating defeat in Week 1, the Browns put themselves in the win column via a bounce-back performance against the Jets last night. Cleveland got off to a slow start but thanks to some big plays from Odell Beckham Jr. and Nick Chubb, as well as a dominant showing from Myles Garrett, they were able to pull away. Garrett was unstoppable all night long, finishing with three sacks, three TFL, and five quarterback hits.

Cleveland’s 20-point victory suggests a convincing performance, but that wasn’t exactly the case. The Browns converted just four of their 13 third-down attempts, finished with 16 overall first downs and lost the time of possession. Baker Mayfield’s final stat line is misleading, also. Mayfield was far from sharp for much of Monday’s contest, as he completed just 19/35 passes and threw another interception. His lone touchdown pass came via an 89-yard catch-and-run by OBJ on a slant route. Overall, the Browns earned a much-needed win but certainly benefited from playing Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk.

Notable Injuries: N/A

Defining stat: Allowed just 262 yards of total offense

What’s next: Los Angeles Rams - Sunday, Sep. 22 (8:20 PM) (Home)