Following the results of Week 17, the Cincinnati Bengals secured their first division win since 2015 while the Cleveland Browns were eliminated from the playoffs. Both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers remain in the playoff hunt but will need considerable help from other teams next week in order to get in.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
The Bengals continue to defy expectations as they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 34-31, improving to 10-6 and locking up the division title.
Quarterback Joe Burrow had yet another stellar performance as he completed 30-of-39 pass attempts for 446 yards and four touchdowns. The story of the game had to be wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, however, as the rookie phenom caught 11 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensive end Trey Hendrickson’s streak of 11 games in a row with at least half a sack finally came to an end against the Chiefs as the defense was unable to notch a sack against quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1)
The Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive for one more week with a 26-14 win over the Browns, effectively eliminating the division foe from the playoffs in the process.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played what was likely to be his last game at Heinz Field on Monday night. After 18 seasons in Pittsburgh, the 39-year-old face of the franchise is expected to walk away from the game following the 2021 season. In his potentially last performance for a home crowd, Roethlisberger threw the ball 46 times for just 123 yards to go with one touchdown and an interception.
Big Ben takes a final lap around Heinz Field.— NFL (@NFL) January 4, 2022
What a moment for Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/AzU1AtwkFI
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt continued his reign of dominance with a four-sack performance against Cleveland that brought his season total to 21.5. Watt now has a chance to break the single-season sack record set by Michael Strahan, needing 1.5 sacks next Sunday to do so.
Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
The Ravens experienced yet another nail-biting heartbreaker as they fell 20-19 to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Quarterback Tyler Huntley returned to action this week with Lamar Jackson still sidelined with an ankle injury, throwing for zero touchdowns, and an interception. Despite this, Baltimore was still in a position to drive the field and win the game with a field goal at the end of regulation but was unsuccessful.
The defense of the Ravens kept the game competitive with two interceptions — both by safety Chuck Clark with one being returned for the first score of the game — and a forced fumble against quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Cleveland Browns (7-9)
Any hope the Browns had of making it to the postseason went away with their loss to the Steelers on Monday night.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield played his final game of the season as it was announced he would miss the final game against Cincinnati following shoulder surgery. His two-interception performance was a fitting end to what has been a difficult season for the former No. 1 overall pick as he now enters his final season under a rookie contract.
The defense of the Browns allowed 188 yards and one touchdown on the ground to rookie first-round running back Najee Harris.