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AFC North Recap, Week 10: Steelers gain ground as the Browns stumble

With the top of the division on bye weeks, the Steelers and Browns go opposite directions

New Orleans Saints v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Week 10 saw the top two teams in the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals, rest up on bye weeks. That opened the door for the Cleveland Browns to gain valuable ground behind the Bengals in the middle of the standings.

Instead, the Browns suffered their second-worst defeat of the season with a 22-point loss in Miami. Meanwhile, the Steelers snapped a two-game skid with a 20-10 victory, their third of the season. As such, the Browns and Steelers now have an identical record through nine games, with the former holding a tiebreaker advantage.

Updated standings:

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

Cleveland Browns v Miami Dolphins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns

Result: Loss to Miami Dolphins, 17-39

A trip to South Beach after their bye week was not kind to the Browns. Despite drawing first blood with an opening-drive touchdown and remaining competitive through most of the first half, Cleveland wound up losing by three scores.

Once the Dolphins found their groove offensively, the Browns had little to no answers. After the late-second quarter mark, Miami scored on five straight straight offensive possessions with four touchdowns. The Browns could not match firepower-for-firepower, and it didn’t help that they turned the ball over on downs three times and fumbled.

The Browns were outgained in total yardage by a 491 to 297 mark. They surrendered 17 first downs through the air and were similarly gashed on the ground, giving up 195 rushing yards on the Dolphins’ 33 attempts.

Cleveland was unsurprisingly efficient rushing the ball as well, with Nick Chubb and Jacoby Brissett each averaging 5.7 yards per carry. It meant little, though, as Miami’s success with big plays were too much to overcome. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones continued his run of strong production with a team-high five receptions for 99 receiving yards.

New Orleans Saints v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers

Result: Win over New Orleans Saints, 20-10

In a predictable low-scoring affair, the Steelers had the last laugh in a game of runs, pulling away late to defeat the Saints. The Steelers opened up a 10-0 lead by the second quarter, which the Saints quickly closed to tie the game at halftime.

With the game tight down the stretch, the Steelers’ defense came through. The Saints’ final three offensive possessions saw Andy Dalton get intercepted twice and with a turnover on downs in between. Pittsburgh capitalized on the first takeaway with a 44-yard touchdown drive to take a 20-10 lead with just over eight minutes remaining.

The Steelers’ rushing attack finally broke through with a season-best performance. As a team, they rushed for 217 yards on a whopping 43 attempts, wearing down New Orleans’ defensive front as the game progressed. That proved to be a huge advantage, as the Saints mustered just 29 — yes, 29 — rushing yards overall.

Having run 34 more plays than the Saints and gaining 193 more yards, the Steelers frankly should have won by more than 10 points. They did, for what it’s worth, miss two field goals in the second half. Matthew Wright is kicking in place of the injured veteran Chris Boswell.