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AFC North Roundup: Week 9

Baltimore Ravens v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

With the Browns and Bengals on bye weeks, the Ravens and Steelers were the lone representatives from the AFC North to suit up on Sunday — just a week after doing battle against one another in Week 8.

The Steelers avoided a scare against the Cowboys and escaped Dallas with a narrow victory, remaining undefeated on the season. Baltimore earned a bounce-back victory in Indianapolis in a defensive battle.

Updated Standings:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-0
  2. Baltimore Ravens 6-2
  3. Cleveland Browns 5-3
  4. Cincinnati Bengals 2-5-1

Steelers defeat Cowboys: 24-19

Riding high after a win over the Ravens last Sunday, the Steelers traveled to Dallas as a near 14-point favorite over the measly Cowboys. Those who saw this as a potential trap game were vindicated early as Pittsburgh was given quite the scare.

Three punts and a turnover on downs through their first four possessions saw the Steelers fall into an early 13-point hole, as Garrett Gilbert and the Cowboys moved the ball surprisingly well on offense. Pittsburgh scored a touchdown and field goal on back-to-back possessions to end the half, though, which trimmed Dallas’ lead to 13-9.

Ben Roethlisberger suffered a leg injury and exited at the end of the second quarter, but ultimately returned in the second half and fueled the Steelers comeback effort. Two straight field goals saw Dallas jump back out to a 10-point lead in the third quarter, but the Steelers roared back.

Three straight drives of 75+ yards resulted in 17 points, giving the Steelers a five-point lead and putting the game in the hands of their top-ranked defense. They responded by forcing a quick turnover on downs and hanging on to a narrow advantage.

A win is a win, but the Steelers can’t be too confident that it took such a heroic effort in the second half to escape with a win against the two-win Cowboys. It’s possible that they simply overlooked Dallas in this game and struggled to “get up”, per say, until the second half rolled around.

Defining stat: +2 point differential

What’s next: vs. Cincinnati Bengals — Sunday, Nov. 15 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Ravens defeat Colts: 24-10

It was a tale of two halves for the Ravens on Sunday, one in which they were on the opposite side of the spectrum of compared to their past two games.

A putrid offensive showing in the first half saw the Ravens gain just 55, yes 55, total offensive yards and four first downs. Baltimore’s usually-dominant rushing attack mustered only 18 yards on 10 carries as Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins were bottled up. The Ravens offensive line struggled to gain any push against the Colts talented defensive front.

Indianapolis’ linebackers Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker controlled the tempo and thwarted any sort of misdirection or trickery the Ravens tried to throw at them. Fortunately, the Ravens trailed by only three points at intermission. Chuck Clark’s 65-yard fumble return touchdown in the first quarter accounted for Baltimore’s only points in the first half.

Come the third quarter, the tide turned quickly and the Ravens began to move the ball with consistently while the defense remained incredibly stout. Back-to-back scoring drives of 10+ plays saw the Ravens take a commanding 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter, sparked by a turnaround from Lamar Jackson and the rushing attack.

Jackson completed all 10 of his pass attempts in the final two quarters and the Ravens rushed for 92 yards on over 5.0 YPC. Jackson led the team with 58 rushing yards and scored off a nine-yard scramble early in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens were on the winning side of the turnover battle, which proved to be a significant difference-maker, and allowed only one single yard in the third quarter. Far from a perfect win, but a convincing showing in the second half against a projected playoff team.

Defining stat: Two forced turnovers

What’s next: @ New England Patriots — Sunday, Nov. 8 (8:20 p.m. ET)