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AFC North Recap, Week 8: Browns’ recent dominance over Bengals continues

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After picking up a second straight win this past Thursday night, the Ravens maintained their hold on first place in the AFC North. That lead expanded to a full game when the Bengals lost to the Browns on Monday night, dropping their record in the division to 0-3.

The Browns are only one game behind Cincinnati for second place now and the Ravens are the only team over .500. Cleveland has now won five straight games against the Bengals and eight of the past nine meetings between the two.

Elsewhere on Sunday afternoon, the Steelers’ struggles continued with a blowout loss to the Eagles, leaving them alone at the basement of the division standings.

Updated standings:

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

Baltimore Ravens v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens

Result: Win over Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27-22

The Ravens started a win streak for the first time this season in Week 9, picking up a road victory against the Buccaneers on Thursday night. It was a tale of two halves for Baltimore, as the Ravens sleepwalked through the first two quarters before coming alive late.

Offensively, the Ravens punted five times in the first half, were unsuccessful on a fourth down attempt in the red zone and had a field goal blocked just before halftime. Fortunately, their defense limited the Buccaneers to only 10 points after forcing three straight punts in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ run game took over. They quickly scored 14 unanswered points with back-to-back scoring drives of 77 and 80 yards, that ended with touchdown catches by Isaiah Likely and Kenyan Drake. Then, Devin Duvernay capped off a 83-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run.

The Ravens rushed for well over 200 yards as a team getting balanced contributions across the board. Likely, Demarcus Robinson and other playmakers stepped up in the absence of the team’s top two pass-catchers, as Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman both exited the game early with injuries.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers

Result: Loss to Philadelphia Eagles, 13-35

The Steelers entered this intrastate battle against the undefeated Eagles as a double-digit underdog. While they looked competitive through the first quarter, the Steelers were unable to keep pace as the game progressed. They were outscored 28-6 over the final three quarters as the offense sputtered and their defense ceded big plays.

Pittsburgh’s secondary was eviscerated by wide receiver A.J. Brown in the first half, who caught three long touchdown passes of 39, 29 and 27 yards from Jalen Hurts. In spite of this, the Steelers only trailed by 11 points at halftime.

However, a quick 75-yard touchdown drive by Philadelphia to begin the third quarter made it a three possession game. Any chance of a comeback evaporated when Kenny Pickett was sacked and fumbled early in the fourth quarter. The Eagles recovered and needed just two plays to go 54 yards and score their 35th point of the game.

The Steelers once again struggled to sustain drives, as they went just 1-of-12 on third down tries, and get off the field consistently on defense. The Eagles converted seven of their 12 third down attempts. Pittsburgh also forced no takeaways while coughing up the ball twice themselves, which is not a recipe for success against an undefeated opponent.

Syndication: The Enquirer Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cleveland Browns

Result: Win over Cincinnati Bengals, 32-13

On the heels of four consecutive losses, the Browns put forth their best performance of the season on Monday night. This was arguably a must-win game for the Browns and they played with a sense of urgency in front of a raucous home crowd.

The Browns’ defense was stout from the get-go. They intercepted Joe Burrow on the first drive of the game, which set the tone for the rest of the night. A three-quarter shutout saw Cleveland’s defense force two turnovers in total and four punts. Their pass rush was dominant with five sacks and seven quarterback hits; led by Myles Garrett who alone had 1.5 sacks and four quarterback by himself.

Cleveland was able to overcome a slow offensive start. They missed a field goal and turned the ball over on their first two drives, then fumbled again just before entering halftime with 11 points. Then, they scored touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second half on drives of 75, 60 and 83 yards, all of which lasted over four minutes.

The Browns converted 8-of-13 third down attempts and had an even 12-12 split between passing and rushing first downs. They won the time of possession battle by over 13 minutes and were successful on all but one of their five red zone tries.

Syndication: The Enquirer Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cincinnati Bengals

Result: Loss to Cleveland Browns, 13-32

Just a week removed from an 18-point victory over the Atlanta Falcons at home, the Bengals looked like a completely different team in Week 8. They regressed significantly and were outplayed by the Browns in pretty much every facet.

The early returns on the Bengals’ offense without star wideout Ja’Marr Chase (hip) were not good, to say the least. The Bengals didn’t score until the 14:15 mark of the fourth quarter, at which point they were trailing by 25 points. Evan McPherson missed a 47-yard field goal late in the second quarter.

Cincinnati ran 50 plays on the night and had 15 first downs, most of which came through the air. Their struggles running the ball hit a new low point. They rushed just 10 times for 36 yards as a team. Once the Browns expanded their lead to multiple touchdowns, the Bengals were forced to throw the ball playing from behind. That didn’t work out well either.

Their defense at least kept him within striking distance in the first half, but the Browns blew the game open with back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter. Burrow was sacked five times for a total loss of 39 yards, as the Bengals’ offensive line struggled in both pass protection and run blocking against Cleveland’s front-seven.