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AFC North Recap, Week 7: Ravens make a statement, Browns and Steelers keep pace

Detroit Lions v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

For the second consecutive week, the AFC North went undefeated on the weekend with one team — the Cincinnati Bengals — on a bye. Elsewhere, the Ravens won their fifth game of the season to remain in first place, while the Steelers and Browns each improved to 4-2.

The division continues to be the class of the league thus far through seven games with the highest overall winning percentage.

Updated standings:

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

Cleveland Browns

Result: 39-38 win over Indianapolis Colts

The Browns’ vaunted defense struggled mightily against a Colts’ offense led by backup Gardner Minshew, which defeated the Ravens in Week 3. Thanks to some late-game heroics and execution, the Browns did not suffer the same fate, instead emerging victorious.

Cleveland used a 20-point second quarter performance, which they won by 13 points, to take a lead into halftime. They were ultimately outscored in the second half but erased a late deficit following a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Kareem Hunt’s one-yard score on fourth down gave the Browns a one-point advantage.

Deshaun Watson returned to the starting lineup at quarterback but suffered another injury and did not return. He completed only one pass attempt and threw an interception. P.J. Walker again replaced Watson as the Browns leaned on their run game (33 carries, 150 yards combined).

The Browns struggled on third down and were out-gained handedly in yardage, while possessing the ball for several less minutes also. However, they won the turnover battle by a 4:2 margin and were perfect in the red zone.

Baltimore Ravens

Result: 38-6 win over Detroit Lions

After showing flashes through six games, the Ravens finally had a big offensive breakthrough performance against the Lions. Baltimore totaled over 500 yards of offensive and five touchdowns — four of which came in the first half — in a dominant wire-to-wire victory.

During their run of four consecutive touchdowns to begin the game, the Ravens’ defense was suffocating, forcing three punts and a turnover on downs. If not for a fumble in scoring position at the end of the second quarter, their lone blemish on the day, the Ravens would have scored 30+ points through two quarters.

Lamar Jackson was masterful against Detroit’s high-ranked defense, completing over 70% of his 27 pass attempts for 357 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 36 yards and another touchdown, while having a near-perfect passer rating. Nine different pass-catchers caught receptions with five having two or more catches.

The Ravens averaged a whopping 12.8 yards per pass and 5.4 yards per rush, which is a balanced recipe for a big outing. Their pass rush against Jared Goff was relentless all afternoon with five sacks, eight quarterback hits, and over 10 pressures. Meanwhile, Jackson was not sacked once and the Lions had only one quarterback hit.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Result: 24-17 win over Los Angeles Rams

The Steelers earned another come-from-behind victory thanks to a big fourth quarter, which has been a trend for them this season. They punted on all but one drive in the first half and trailed the Rams 17-10 halfway through the third quarter. Then, suddenly a switch was flipped following a missed field goal attempt by Los Angeles.

A quick five-play touchdown drive saw the Steelers tie the game. The Rams quickly went three-and-out and Kenny Pickett and company put together their lone signature drive of the game, going 80 yards in 10 plays. Najee Harris’ three-yard touchdown was the go-ahead score.

Pittsburgh’s offense eeked out 300 total yards and went only 4-of-12 on third down attempts. Despite being outgained and having less first downs than the Rams, they did win the turnover battle and went a perfect 100% on all three of their red zone trips.

T.J. Watt’s interception off Matthew Stafford’s first pass of the second half set the Steelers up in immediate scoring position for a key touchdown. Now, despite having a negative point differential on the year, the Steelers are two games above .500.