Week 3 saw a bevy of interesting action and movement across the division. With a victory over the Texans combined with a Ravens loss on MNF, the undefeated Steelers are now in first place in the standings.
The Browns picked up a second consecutive win and improved to 2-1, but remain in third place since Baltimore holds a convincing tiebreaker over them at the moment. The Bengals narrowly missed out on getting in the win column but would have remained at the bottom of the division nevertheless.
Browns defeat Washington: 34-20
For the second consecutive week, the Browns scored 30+ points and came away with a victory — improving their record to 2-1 on the season. It’s certainly a positive turnaround after a catastrophic start in Week 1.
Cleveland’s performance against Washington in Week 3 was a bit of a rollercoaster. They punted on their first two drives and but erased a seven-point deficit in the second quarter and entered halftime with a 17-7 lead. Then, they allowed 13 unanswered points in the third quarter and trailed heading into the final frame of play.
They finally hit their stride when it mattered most and hit a groove on both sides of the ball in the fourth, outscoring Washington 17-0. Statistically, the Browns and Washington were pretty even on both sides of the ball. The biggest difference-maker in this matchup was turnovers. Washington coughed up the football five times and Cleveland took advantage, scoring all but 10 of their points off turnovers.
Cleveland took advantage of some costly miscues from Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., but should also be credited for making key defensive plays and captilizing on them. Offensively, the storyline was pretty much the same for the Browns.
The running backs led the way once again and Baker Mayfield played the role of game manager fairly effectively. Nick Chubb rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns, Kareem Hunt totaled 64 scrimmage yards and a score, and Mayfield threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Mayfield completed 16/23 throws for 156 passing yards.
Defining stat: 5 takeaways
What’s next: @ Dallas Cowboys — Sunday, Oct. 4 (4:25 p.m. ET)
Steelers defeat Texans: 28-21
The Steelers became the latest AFC North team to hand the Texans a loss, although their victory Houston was much less decisive than that of the Ravens in Week 2. The Texans gave Pittsburgh trouble early but they responded well and climbed back on top.
Houston jumped out to a 14-3 lead and led by four at halftime, but the Steelers defense clamped up in the second half. Pittsburgh forced three punts and an interception in the final two quarters of play, holding DeShaun Watson and company scoreless.
Meanwhile, the offense — while far from perfect — scored a key touchdown off of a turnover late in the fourth quarter to seize control of the game. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tossed two touchdown passes and completed a shade over 63% of his throws despite losing one his top weapons earlier in Diontae Johnson, who suffered a concussion.
James Conner was strong on the ground for a second consecutive game, rushing 18 times for 109 yards and a touchdown. Conner also caught four receptions for 40 additional yards through the air. The Steelers finally broke their streak of consecutive games having turned the ball over and they completely dominated time of possession, holding a 13-minute advantage over Houston.
Defining stat: 5 sacks
What’s next: @ Tennessee Titans — Sunday, Oct. 4 (1:00 p.m. ET)
Bengals tie Eagles: 23-23
There seems to be an early-season game that ends with a tied score every year now, and the Bengals just so happen to be involved this time around. Cincinnati entered Week 3 as a near-touchdown underdog against the Eagles but held their own in a big way.
The Bengals hung around despite some offensive struggles early but eventually wound up leading for most of the second half. Cincinnati scored a touchdown on their second drive of the third quarter and gained a one-point advantage, which expanded to 23-16 in the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia orchestrated an 11-play touchdown drive just before the clock expired, though, and neither team managed to sustain any offensive success in overtime. The Bengals won the turnover battle but gave up eight sacks, which resulted in 56 lost yards. They were ineffective running the ball again, too, mustering just 48 rushing yards on a clip of 2.7 YPC.
Cincinnati’s offensive line struggles have placed a lot of pressure on rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, but he continues to prove up to the task. Burrow threw 41 times and completed 31 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 105.5 and once again put the Bengals in a position to win late.
Burrow pushed the ball downfield a bit more in this game than in Weeks 1-2 and found much success targeting Tyler Boyd, who caught 10 passes for 125 receiving yards. Fellow rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins was the recipient of both of Burrow’s touchdown passes.
Defining stat: 2.7 YPC
What’s next: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars — Sunday, Oct. 4 (1:00 p.m. ET)
Ravens lose to Chiefs: 34-20
In a much-anticipated showdown between two MVP quarterbacks and two undefeated teams, the Ravens fell flat against Kansas City on Monday night.
Baltimore saw an early 3-0 lead evaporate quickly as they had no answers for Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s offense. The Ravens No. 1 scoring defense surrendered 21 points in the second quarter and if not for a kickoff return touchdown by Devin Duvernay, the game likely would have gotten even more out of hand.
A brief comeback effort in the third quarter saw the Ravens trim the deficit to just one touchdown, but the Chiefs responded with a 13-play scoring drive that resulted in Eric Fisher — yes, their left tackle — catching a touchdown pass.
Lamar Jackson had a forgettable night, completing 15/28 throws for a measly 97 passing yards, which is a career-worst number. Baltimore’s offensive line struggled in the trenches and Greg Roman failed to muster any consistency all night long.
Defining stat: 4.3 yards per play
What’s next: @ Washington Football Team — Sunday, Oct. 4 (1:00 p.m. ET)