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AFC North Recap, Week 4: 3 blowout losses, 1 blowout win

The Ravens flip the script to regain control in the division at the quarter mark

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

One week after the Ravens were the sole loser in the AFC North, they reversed the tide in Week 4 and emerged as the sole winner. The Browns were dealt a blowout loss at the hands of Baltimore, but they weren’t the only ones: both the Steelers and Bengals were also on the wrong end of lopsided results.

Following the weekend, the Ravens are now again alone atop the current standings as the only 3-1 team in the division.

Updated standings:

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

Cincinnati Bengals

Result: Loss to Tennessee Titans, 3-27

An uneven start to the season hit a new low for the Bengals in Week 4, as they suffered a 24-point loss against the Titans. This was Cincinnati’s second road defeat of the year and they were unable to replicate the same defensive excellence in last week’s win on Monday night.

The Bengals’ began the game with an 11-play, 72-yard opening drive that ended with a field goal. From there, they punted on four straight possessions to end the first half. They had only three possessions in the second half which resulted in a fumble, punt, and turnover on downs in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati’s defense ceded 23 total first downs and were gashed on the ground for 173 rushing yards. The Titans ran the ball 33 times and averaged 5.2 yards per carry, and they were successful on 8-of-13 third down attempts. They also won the time of possession battle by almost 10 minutes.

Joe Burrow’s 30 passes accumulated just 165 yards as the Bengals once again struggled to generate big plays through the air. To make matters worse, starting wide receiver Tee Higgins suffered a fracture rib injury.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Result: Loss to Houston Texans, 6-30

Following a two-game victory streak to obtain a winning record, the Steelers fell back to earth in a big way on Sunday. As a 2.5-point favorite on the road, Pittsburgh came out flat and was handed a 24-point defeat at the hands of the Texans.

The Steelers’ offensive woes early in the season continued. Kenny Pickett — who exited late in the game with a knee injury — threw an interception on the team’s first drive of the game, which preceded four straight punts up until halftime. Pittsburgh’s defense allowed four scoring drives in the first half, four of which ended in field goals for Houston.

Then, with the Steelers still unable to generate touchdowns to engineer a comeback in the second half, the Texans blew the game open with back-to-back touchdown drives of 10 and 11 plays. A 30-point outing from a young Texans team against the usually-stingy Steelers’ defense was a surprising development.

312 of the 450+ yards they allowed were through the air from rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ offense gained only 12 total first downs and were unsuccessful on both of their red zone trips.

Baltimore Ravens

Result: Win over Cleveland Browns, 28-3

The Ravens bounced back from an upset defeat with their biggest win of the season, defeating the Browns by 25 points on the road. Baltimore’s defense made life difficult for rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in his first career start, while their offense re-gained a spark.

An interception by cornerback Brandon Stephens in the first quarter directly led to Lamar Jackson’s first touchdown of the day (four total), which gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead. From there, they closed the first half with two more touchdowns to take a commanding 21-3 advantage.

The Ravens punted on all but one possession over the final two quarters but it mattered little, as their defense was suffocating. Cleveland converted only 4-of-16 third down attempts and failed to score touchdowns on both red zone trips. They had only 166 total yards of offense and averaged 2.6 yards per play.

Baltimore won the turnover battle decisively with three interceptions off Thompson-Robinson. The Ravens only gained just under 300 yards of total offense themselves but were efficient in scoring opportunities, going 4-of-4 in the red zone. Jackson completed over 70% of his pass attempts for the fourth straight game this season.

Cleveland Browns

Result: Loss to Baltimore Ravens, 3-28

The Browns entered Week 4 riding high after a dominant performance the Sunday prior against the Titans. That quickly dissolved in their matchup with the Ravens, as they were outplayed from start to finish in the 25-point defeat at home.

Cleveland’s offense stood little chance of finding success with “DTR” at the quarterback helm. They struggled to sustain drives and two early-game interceptions were damaging, as they both led directly to touchdowns by the Ravens.

The Browns’ No. 1 ranked defense heading into the weekend allowed a season-high in points by a wide margin. They failed to prevent the Ravens from scoring touchdowns on all four of their red zone possessions.

Without Nick Chubb, the Browns’ running game was again less-than-desirable. They ran the ball 25 times in total for just 93 yards. That did not help alleviate pressure from their rookie quarterback starting in-place of the injured Deshaun Watson.