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AFC North Recap, Week 3: Ravens lose, everyone else wins

It was a near-perfect showing from the division this week as the standings leveled out

Syndication: The Tennessean Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

The AFC North came up just shy of a clean sweep of victories in Week 3. The Baltimore Ravens, who entered the weekend as the only remaining undefeated team in the division, suffered their first lost. Meanwhile, all three other teams won and there’s now a three-way tie atop the standings with multiple 2-1 records.

Updated standings:

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

Cleveland Browns

Result: Win over Tennessee Titans, 27-3

The Browns bounced back from last week’s debacle on Monday night with their second blowout victory of the season. Against the Titans, the Browns’ defense was once again lights out while Deshaun Watson and their Nick Chubb-less offense showed a resurgence.

Cleveland started slow with a punt and fumble on their second and third drives of the first quarter. However, they then proceeded to score on three straight possessions to turn a 3-3 tie into a 17-point lead at 20-3 halfway through the third quarter. Amari Cooper’s 43-yard touchdown catch with 6:51 remaining in the game was the nail in the coffin for the Titans.

Defensively, the Browns forced eight punts on the day and four three-and-outs. They allowed the Titans just six first downs and ceded 2-of-12 third down conversions. On top of that, the Browns’ defense gave up just 94, yes 94 total yards, with five sacks, eight quarterback hits, and nine tackles-for-loss. Myles Garett indiviudally recorded 3.5 of these sacks and had five quarterback hits himself in a dominant performance.

Watson also had his best game of the season in a much-needed bounce-back showing. He completed 27-of-33 passes for 289 yards with two touchdowns. The Browns did not run the ball very effectively (31 carries, 78 yards total) as they went with a by-committee approach in the team’s first game without Chubb in the lineup.

Baltimore Ravens

Result: Loss to Indianapolis Colts, 19-22 (OT)

The Ravens suffered an upset loss at home, squandering an opportunity to remain undefeated ahead of two upcoming divisional matchups. Despite plenty of chances to take control over the Colts, the Ravens struggled with turnovers early and couldn’t generate enough offense when they needed yardage and points.

Baltimore’s 12-play, 80-yard opening touchdown drive did not foreshadow another strong offensive outing. They did not score again until the end of the third quarter as they punted four times and fumbled twice in-between. They were outscored 13-7 during that span.

The Ravens retook a late three-point lead with just over two minutes remaining but the Colts responded to tie it at 19-19. Justin Tucker’s 61-yard field goal attempt to win the game in regulation fell short. The Ravens went three-and-out and turned the ball over on downs in overtime.

Their final offensive play was an incomplete pass from Lamar Jackson to Zay Flowers, where a clear defensive pass interference was not called on Colts’ linebacker E.J. Speed. While that very well may have changed the outcome if correctly called, the Ravens made too many costly errors prior to that point. To make matter worse, they saw a handful of starters suffer injuries during the game, after entering Sunday with nearly 10 starters already out.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Result: Win over Las Vegas Raiders, 23-18

The Steelers won their second straight game in primetime to improve to 2-1, this time less on the back of their defense but with a more balanced effort. After falling down 7-0 early, the Steelers responded with a long 72-yard touchdown catch by WR Calvin Austin. They never trailed from that point on.

From midway through the second quarter late into the third, the Steelers scored 16 consecutive points across four straight scoring drives to take a commanding lead. Their defense forced three punts and two interceptions during that span.

Pittsburgh’s offense slowed down late with three straight punts and the Raiders threatened with a late comeback attempt, but it came up short. They were ultimately out-gained offensively for the third consecutive game and struggled to run the ball again (3.4 YPC).

However, their offensive output was enough considering their defense again forced multiple turnovers. Austin’s 72-yard touchdown catch and George Pickens’ 75-yard performance, which included a 32-yard reception, added some much-needed juice into the Steelers’ passing attack.

Cincinnati Bengals

Result: Win over Los Angeles Rams, 19-16

The Bengals got into the win column for the first time this season with a gritty victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. Cincinnati’s offensive consistencies continued but their defense put forth its best performance thus far in the year.

In the first half, the Bengals settled for three field goal attempts after crossing midfield and made two. They punted on their four other first half drives with two three-and-outs. They broke open a three-point deficit early in the third quarter by scoring 10 straight points, kicked off by a long 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.

Cincinnati’s defense continued to clamp down in the second half. Amidst their 13-0 run offensively, the Bengals secured an interception and forced the Rams into three straight three-and-outs. The Rams were only successful on 1-of-11 third down attempts and the Bengals sacked Matthew Stafford six times for a total loss of 46 yards.

Ja’Marr Chase came to life with his first breakout showing of the season, catching 12 of 15 targets for 141 yards with a long reception of 43 yards. Burrow, who was questionable for the matchup with his nagging calf injury, threw 49 times for 259 yards with an interception.