With every AFC North team’s bye week now in the rear view mirror, Week 11 was officially the start of the second half of the season. Not much changed.
The Ravens retained their one-game lead atop the division, winning a fourth consecutive game. Cincinnati earned their first division win of the season in Pittsburgh, handing the Steelers their 7th loss. The Browns lost their second game in a row and failed to gain ground.
Result: Loss to Buffalo Bills, 23-31
Instead of traveling to Buffalo, the Browns traveled to Detroit to take on the Bills. Playing inside of the snow unfortunately did not do the Browns any favors. As has been the case in other games this year, Cleveland started off well. They led 10-3 in the second quarter, which just as easily could have been 14-3.
Then, a fumble and punt offensively saw the Bills take a 10-0 run entering halftime. From there on, the momentum favored Buffalo entirely. The Browns allowed points on all five of their defensive possessions in the second half. While the Bills settled for field goals on four of those five drives, the Browns’ offense continued to sputter. They finally put together back-to-back touchdown drives late in the second half, but not until they were already trailing by 18 points.
Cleveland’s rushing attack was limited to only 80 total yards on 26 carries. Nick Chubb was contained to the tune of just 19 rushing yards on 14 attempts. The Browns will struggle to win any game if Chubb is as unproductive as he was in this game.
The Browns’ defense held the Bills to only 3-of-11 on third down attempts and nine passing first downs. They were gashed on the ground, though, ceding 171 rushing yards and 5.2 yards per carry.
Result: Win over Carolina Panthers, 13-3
Fresh off their bye week, the Ravens grinded out a 10-point win at home. It was a bit of a conundrum of a performance, as the team scored a season-low 13 points while also giving up a season-best mark of three points on the defensive end.
The Ravens were surprisingly thwarted by Carolina’s defense. The Panthers’ defensive front limited the Ravens’ rushing attack for most of the game. Baltimore punted seven times and turned the ball over once compared to just three scoring drives on the afternoon.
Much of the Ravens’ struggles were self-inflicted. Penalties and dropped passes, particularly early in the game, were costly. Fortunately, they turned in a dominant defensive showing. It was a balanced effort with all three levels playing well.
The Ravens limited a productive Panthers’ rushing attack to just 36 total yards on 17 carries, while forcing three turnovers in the fourth quarter. That helped the Ravens use a 10-0 run late to pull away and avoid a potential upset loss.
Result: Loss to Cincinnati Bengals, 30-37
A week removed from getting back in the win column, the Steelers were unable to earn consecutive victories for the first time this season. They hung around with the Bengals for awhile, leading 20-17 at halftime. Then, they sputtered offensively in the second half.
The Steelers scored on four straight possessions to end the first half. Come the third quarter, they went three-and-out on three straight drives. It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that they found the end zone again, at which point they were trailing by two touchdowns with less than a minute remaining.
Pittsburgh lost this game despite winning the turnover battle handedly. They couldn’t get the stops they needed late and were outscored 20-10 in the second half. Their defense allowed 18 first downs through the air and 346 passing yards.
On the bright side, 30 points marked a season-best for the team and they were able to find some degree of rushing efficiency (4.3 yards per carry) for a second straight game.
Result: Win over Pittsburgh Steelers, 37-30
For the fourth time in the past five games, the Bengals exceeded the 30-point mark and won. They picked up where they left off prior to their Week 10 bye week with an explosive passing performance. Despite gaining only 62 yards on the ground, the Bengals scored four touchdowns and gained over 400 total yards offensively.
WR Tee Higgins was a driving offensive force, leading the team with nine receptions for 148 yards through the air. Samaje Perine stepped up big after starting running back Joe Mixon exited with a concussion. Perine scored three receiving touchdowns and gained over 80 yards from scrimmage.
The Bengals’ defense wasn’t particularly great on third down and didn’t force any turnovers. However, while they allowed a season-high 30 points, they buckled down more in the second half in key situations. Following another explosive offensive outing, the Bengals now have the third-best point differential in the AFC at +50.