After a rare winless Sunday in Week 2 for the AFC North, much more success was had this past weekend. The Bengals and Ravens each picked up victories against conference foes in the AFC East, while the Browns defeated the Steelers last Thursday night.
Result: Win over Pittsburgh Steelers, 29-17
After a late collapse against the Jets in Week 2, the Browns needed a bounce-back performance on Thursday night. They did just that, earning an important division win against the Steelers.
A back-and-forth first half saw the Browns trailing by one point at halftime. Then, they outscored the Steelers 16-3 in the final two quarters. Their defense forced five straight punts and scored a fumble return touchdown as time expired in regulation, which put the cherry on top of Cleveland’s win.
Again the Browns were strong on the ground, rushing for 171 yards as a team. Nick Chubb had 113 of them and a touchdown. QB Jacoby Brissett had his best game of the season and orchestrated an efficient offensive attack. The veteran journeyman completed 21 of 31 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he did not turn the ball over.
The Browns have now scored 26+ points in three straight games to begin the season. They could very well be 3-0 if not for the disastrous finish in Week 2. More performances like this from Brissett and their defense will be key to their success moving forward.
Result: 17-29 loss to Cleveland Browns
On the flip slide, the Steelers came out on the losing end of Thursday night’s divisional matchup. Their 12-point defeat is a bit misleading, as they trailed by six points until the final play of the game. Still, a sleepwalking offense in the second half canceled out a competitive first two quarters, where the Steelers led by one point at the break.
The Steelers manufactured just one scoring drive in the final two frames of play, which resulted in a field goal. They went three-and-out on three straight possessions, while the Browns scored 13 quick straight points to begin the third quarter. On the night, the Steelers converted on just 1-of-9 third down attempts.
QB Mitchell Trubisky completed 20-of-32 throws for 207 yards. A decent chunk of this yardage total, though, came late in the game when the Steelers trailed by two possessions. Pittsburgh lost the time of possession battle by nearly 13 minutes and ran 16 less offensive plays than the Browns as a result.
Defensively, the Steelers couldn’t quite fluster Brissett enough nor slow down Chubb, Kareem Hunt and the Browns’ rushing attack.
Result: 27-12 win over New York Jets
The reigning AFC champions finally got in the win column with a 15-point victory against the Jets on Sunday. The game began with an 11-play touchdown drive and the Bengals never trailed from there. A fumble on their next possession and two quick field goals by the Jets made it a 7-6 game. Then, the Bengals scored 13 straight points and went into halftime with a two-possession lead.
Cincinnati’s offense struggled to run the ball with just 69 total yards on the ground. Joe Mixon got nicked up with an ankle injury. Fortunately, the Bengals were able to move the ball through the air and their defense played so well that it didn’t matter.
The Bengals won the time of possession and came up with four takeaways — two fumbles and two interceptions. The Jets converted only 7-of-18 third down attempts and went 0-4 on fourth down. QB Joe Burrow had his best game of the season with 275 passing yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers.
Result: 37-26 win over New England Patriots
The Ravens’ offense put together another impressive performance with five total touchdowns against the Patriots. Baltimore led just 14-13 at halftime but came alive in the third quarter, erasing a six-point deficit by scoring 17 straight points.
QB Lamar Jackson threw four touchdown passes, giving him a league-leading 10 for the season, and rushed for another as well. Jackson accounted for over 300 total yards with 100+ rushing yards for a second straight week. He connected with TE Mark Andrews, who had a team-high 89 receiving yards for two scores in the first half.
New England’s offense was able to move the ball for much of the game, but the Ravens’ defense buckled down by creating turnovers. They intercepted QB Mac Jones three times in the second half and rookie safety Kyle Hamilton forced a fumble, too. This helped negate some of the long receptions and rushing success the Patriots had.
The Ravens now lead the NFL in scoring through three games with 99 total points.