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AFC North Recap: Week 4

Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

After four weeks of the 2021 season, three teams sit atop the AFC North with 3-1 records. The Bengals, Browns, and Ravens all emerged victorious in Week 4, while the Steelers dropped their third game in a row.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)

Cincinnati rebounded from their Week 3 loss with a 24-21 victory over the winless Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football.

Quarterback Joe Burrow was impressive, completing 25 of 32 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns while avoiding turnovers. Tight end C.J. Uzomah — returning from a torn Achilles suffered in Week 2 of the 2020 season — stood out in the passing attack as he caught five passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense struggled at times against rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence without several key members, including All-Pro safety Jessie Bates III and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Veteran cornerback Trae Waynes made his debut for the Bengals after signing with the team during the 2020 offseason and missing all of last year with a pectoral injury.

Cleveland Browns (3-1)

Cleveland won their third-straight game in Week 4, this time a 14-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

As usual, it was the rushing attack that carried the team for the Browns as running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for a total of 169 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. Quarterback Baker Mayfield did not have his best performance as he threw for 155 yards and zero touchdowns — completing only 15 of 33 pass attempts in an uncharacteristically inaccurate passing performance.

After the Vikings opened the game by marching down the field and scoring, Cleveland’s defense clamped down and held Minnesota scoreless for the rest of the contest. Minnesota finished the day with only 268 yards of offense.

Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

Baltimore won their third-straight game, handing the Denver Broncos their first loss of the season with a convincing 23-7 win.

On a day where the run was effectively stifled, the Ravens were able to win through the air. Quarterback Lamar Jackson continued his strong start to the season as he completed 22 of 37 pass attempts for 316 yards and a touchdown. The highlight of the day was a 49-yard bomb to wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown for a touchdown. With the ball back and three seconds left on the clock, Head Coach John Harbaugh called one last play to allow the team to hit the 100-yard rushing mark for the day to tie the all-time record of 43 consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing set by Pittsburgh in 1977.

Baltimore’s defense had by far their best game of the season. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater left the game with a concussion in the first half, but he was unable to move the ball effectively for much of his time in the game. Drew Lock replaced Bridgewater at quarterback for even worse results. Rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh continued to flash as he sacked Bridgewater, while fellow outside linebacker Tyus Bowser had a dominant performance with two sacks.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3)

The Steelers dropped to 1-3 after losing 27-17 to the Green Bay Packers — their third consecutive loss.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger continued to struggle, leading to some calls for the future Hall of Famer’s benching. The rushing attack finally found some success for the first time this season, as rookie first-round running back Najee Harris rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts — an average of 4.1 yards per carry.

The defense allowed veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb to reach the endzone twice on the day. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt was able to sack quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice, but Pittsburgh’s defense was unable to do enough, in the end, to keep the team in the game.