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AFC North Recap, Week 12: Ravens the sole loser as Bengals move into first place tie

Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

For the first time in several weeks, we have a tie for first place in the division following Week 12. The Bengals won their third consecutive game to improve to 7-4 and the Ravens fell to 7-4 following a late-game collapse and defeat against the Jaguars.

Baltimore holds a tiebreaker over Cincinnati by virtue of tiebreaker but both teams are knotted up with the same record. Elsewhere, the Browns got back in the win column with an overtime victory over the Buccaneers at home. On Monday night, the Steelers similarly picked up their fourth win of the season with a 24-17 effort over the Colts on the road.

Updated standings:

  1. Baltimore Ravens 7-4
  2. Cincinnati Bengals 7-4
  3. Cleveland Browns 4-7
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-7

Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images

Cincinnati Bengals

Result: Win over Tennessee Titans, 20-16

On the heels of three straight wins, the Bengals traveled to Tennessee down arguably their top two playmakers in Joe Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase. Despite being undermanned, they grinded out another victory over a seven-win Titans team.

After a 10-10 stalemate at halftime, the Bengals used back-to-back scoring drives to create separation midway through the second half. Meanwhile, the Bengals’ defense was able to finish drives and limit the Titans to zero successful red zone trips in three tries.

Cincinnati’s run defense stepped up to the plate against Derrick Henry, limiting him to only 38 rushing yards on 17 attempts. The Titans moved the ball through the air but were forced to settle for field goals. After allowing nine sacks against Tennessee in the playoffs last year, the Bengals’ offensive line gave up just one in this game and four quarterback hits.

Joe Burrow connected with Tee Higgins seven times for 114 yards and a key jump-ball touchdown. In a game where neither team turned the ball over, situational football was paramount and the Bengals came out on top in key moments.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns

Result: Win over Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 23-17 (OT)

The Browns snapped a two-game win streak at home, picking up their first victory since before their bye week. It was a hard-earned win, too, as they needed a late comeback and overtime period to dispatch the Buccaneers.

Both teams traded blows for most of the game. Tampa Bay took a 17-10 lead early in the third quarter while the Browns offense continuously stalled. Fortuantely, Cleveland’s defense clamped down and forced four consecutive punts from that point on. That left the door open for the Browns to force overtime with a six-play, 46-yard touchdown drive with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

In overtime, the Browns’ defense held on two more possessions and their offense cashed in with a 71-yard touchdown drive. Nick Chubb scored from three yards out with just 19 seconds left in overtime, putting the cherry on top of a Browns’ victory.

The Browns rediscovered their rushing success with 189 yards as a team on 34 attempts. In his final game as the team’s starting quarterback before Deshaun Watson’s return, Jacoby Brissett completed 23 of 27 passes and threw for 210 yards through the air.

NFL: NOV 27 Ravens at Jaguars Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens

Result: Loss to Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-28

The Ravens have historically struggled playing in Jacksonville in the past and they failed to exorcise those demons again on Sunday. Despite leading by two possessions in the fourth quarter and controlling most of the game, the Ravens faltered down the stretch.

Baltimore’s offense struggled in the red zone during the first three quarters of the afternoon, settling for four field goals. A few dropped passes and an overthrown would-be touchdown pass cost the Ravens seven or more points.

Fortunately, their defense had held the Jaguars to just 10 points through three frames of play and completely shut them down in the third quarter. Then, just as the offense woke up with 15-point fourth quarter, the Ravens’ defense began reeling. The Ravens allowed 18 points in the final period and the Jaguars marched down the field late for a 75-yard scoring drive to take a lead with just seconds remaining.

Justin Tucker attempted a 67-yard field goal for the win, but the kick landed a few yards short despite being on-target accuracy wise. It was another frustrating defeat for the Ravens, eerily similar to their previous three defeats this season. They held a commanding lead late in the game and did a number of different things to cost themselves.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers

Result: Win over Indianapolis Colts, 24-17

In their lone Monday night appearance of the season, the Steelers came through with a much-needed victory. It was their second victory in as many as three weeks. The Steelers built up a 16-3 lead in the first half before ceding a 14-0 to the Colts in the third quarter.

Then, Pittsburgh responded with one of their better offensive drives in recent memory, going 75 yards across 11 plays in just over five minutes of play. Running back Benny Snell’s two-yard touchdown run and George Pickens’ two-point conversion catch gave the Steelers a full touchdown lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Steelers’ defense then forced a three-and-out and held up again a few minutes later, forcing a turnover on downs with the Colts driving downfield. They forced two key turnovers on the night and were stout on third down, as the Colts converted just 3-of-12 conversion attempts.

Pittsburgh committed to the run and found success, rushing for 172 yards on 36 carries as a team. Both of their touchdowns came on the ground, too. They had eight quarterback hits on Matt Ryan and sacked him an additional three times.