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AFC North Roundup: Week 5

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

If the AFC North is not the best division in football this season, it’s certainly near the top of the list. The Steelers, Ravens, and Browns all boast four wins on the year after another successful Week 5 for each team.

Pittsburgh remains undefeated after hanging on against the Eagles, while the Browns defeated the Colts at home. The Bengals and Ravens duked it out in a intra-division showdown, with the latter emerging victorious in blowout fashion.

Updated standings:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-0
  2. Baltimore Ravens 4-1
  3. Cleveland Browns 4-1
  4. Cincinnati Bengals 1-3-1

Steelers defeat Eagles: 38-29

Fresh off an unexpected bye week due to last week’s postponed game, the Steelers continue to chug along. It wasn’t a flawless victory by any means, but Pittsburgh hung on late against the Eagles and improved to 4-0 on the year.

Much like their last game against the Texans, the Steelers were locked in a back-and-forth affair in the first half and led by just three points at halftime. However, a quick touchdown to begin the third quarter, followed by an interception and another touchdown after, saw the Steelers lead balloon to 31-14.

A punt and fumble on the next two possessions, though, opened the door for the Eagles to climb back into the game, and that they did. Philadelphia poured in 15 unanswered points to trim the Steelers lead to just two points late in the fourth quarter, but Pittsburgh ultimately iced the game when it mattered most.

Ben Roethlisberger connected with WR Chase Claypool for a 35-yard score and the Steelers intercepted Carson Wentz for the second time with just minutes remaining to seal the door shut on any comeback.

Claypool played a starring role in the victory with a breakout performance. He saw a team-high 11 targets in the absence of Dionate Johnson (back) and reeled in seven catches for 111 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He also added another touchdown via rushing, giving him four total scores for the game.

Roethlisberger completed all but seven of his 34 pass attempts for 239 passing yards and three touchdowns, with no turnovers. Pittsburgh’s defense was far from dominant and allowed 5.9 YPC on the ground, but their two interceptions were a difference-maker.

Defining stat: 11-of-15 on third down

What’s next: @ Cleveland Browns — Sunday, Oct. 18 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Ravens defeat Bengals: 27-3

The Ravens did their part in keeping pace with the Steelers in the division standings, securing a 24-point win over the Bengals at home. Baltimore never trailed at any point and rode a dominant defensive performance to victory.

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense were far from stellar, particularly after the first few drives. The Ravens scored 17 points on their first three possessions and Jackson tossed two touchdown passes, but it was tougher sledding from there on out. Baltimore mustered only three offensive points in the second half.

Jackson completed just 19-of-37 passes for 180 yards, but his offense’s shortcomings meant little because of how exceptional the Ravens defense played.

Nearly pitching a shutout on the day, the Ravens dominated the Bengals both at the line of scrimmage and downfield. Baltimore racked up a whopping 15 QB hits and seven sacks, as “Wink” Martindale dialed up consistent pressure all afternoon.

Seven different players recorded a sack and 11 players had at least one QB hit. Marcus Peters corralled his second interception of the season and his cornerback sidekick, Marlon Humphrey, once again made an impact play in the fourth quarter.

With the Ravens already leading 20-0, Humphrey forced the ball loose from WR Mike Thomas and the fumble was recovered by Patrick Queen. Queen returned the fumble 52 yards for an untouched touchdown. Queen also had a forced fumble and sack earlier in the game in what was another strong performance from the rookie.

Defining stat: 15 QB hits

What’s next: @ Philadelphia Eagles — Sunday, Oct. 11 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Bengals lose to Ravens: 3-27

For the Bengals, this was a mildly disappointing step back after an encouraging start to the season. However, some regression was inevitable against a superiorly-talented team in Baltimore, who are historically dominant against rookie quarterbacks.

The story of the Bengals season thus far has been Joe Burrow overcoming lackluster play from the offensive line, but he was unable to do so again in Week 5. The Ravens recognized their advantage at the line of scrimmage and abused it all afternoon.

On the 18 dropbacks in which he was pressured, Burrow was the victim of seven sacks and completed only 3-of-9 attempts for 15 yards. He was far more successful when throwing from a clean pocket, but the issue is the pocket was rarely ever clean.

Burrow threw an interception and lost a fumble but could have easily had two more turnovers, too. An interception tossed to Chuck Clark was called back because of an offsides penalty on Baltimore. Additionally, Burrow was stripped in the fourth quarter but the fumble fortunately managed to roll out of bounds.

Joe Mixon struggled to find any running room on his 24 carries, totaling just 59 yards on the ground. The Bengals defense, though, performed much better than the offense. After a rough start, Cincinnati did a solid job of containing Lamar Jackson and making him uncomfortable.

Cincinnati only sacked Jackson once and finished with six QB hits, but managed to get fairly consistent pressure. Rookie LB Logan Wilson recorded his first career interception and could have had two but dropped a would-be pick.

Defining stat: 2.5 yards per carry

What’s next: @ Indianapolis Colts — Sunday, Oct. 11 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Browns defeat Colts: 32-23

After ripping off three straight wins against opponents with a losing record, the Browns finally secured a signature victory in Week 5. Cleveland played host to a Colts team that was 3-1 entering Sunday’s tilt and made key plays on both sides of the ball.

The Browns gave up an early touchdown and trailed 7-3 but never wavered, scoring on every possession in the first half en route 20-10 advantage at halftime. From there, it was the defense that settled into a groove and made game-changing plays.

S Ronnie Harrison Jr. intercepted Philip Rivers on the first drive of the second half and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. While the Colts scored a kickoff return touchdown on the very next play and scored a field goal after, trimming the deficit to seven points, the Browns responded well.

Cleveland forced a safety and another interception on their next two defensive possessions, which created a gap that the Colts could not overcome.

QB Baker Mayfield was sharp in the first half but tossed a pair of interceptions himself in the second frame, which helped the Colts hang around. Mayfield wound up finishing with 247 passing yards and completed 21-of-37 throws with a pair of touchdowns.

Without Nick Chubb in the lineup, the Browns averaged only 3.8 YPC and rushed for 124 yards as a team — both far cries from the team’s rushing performance in the first four games of the season. Kareem Hunt led the team with 72 yards rushing and scored another receiving touchdown. Hunt has found the end zone in every game this season.

Defining stat: 10-of-17 on third down

What’s next: @ Pittsburgh Steelers — Sunday, Oct. 11 (1:00 p.m. ET)