It was a tough week for the AFC North with only the Cleveland Browns chalking up a victory, as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Baltimore Ravens all fell in week 14. Baltimore lost on a walk off field goal for the second straight week, but still retain a two game lead in the division.
As always we will start with the Ravens and they fell victim to the Washington Redskins and their rookie quarterback….Kirk Cousins. Cousins came in relief of Robert Griffin III after RG3 left the game with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter and threw an 11 yard touchdown pass with :29 seconds remaining to set up a game tying two point conversion, that Cousins would run in and force overtime. The Ravens won the coin toss, but went three and out in their possession and was forced to punt. Richard Crawford then put the nail in the coffin as he returned the punt 64 yards that set up the game winning 34 yard field goal by Kai Forbath and gave the Redskins a 31-28 overtime victory. Baltimore played an outstanding first half offensively putting up 21 points and a seven point lead at halftime, but faltered in the second half only mustering seven points. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 182 yards with three first half touchdowns, a lost fumble, and an interception. Ray Rice had a very nice day running for 121 yards on 20 carries while Anquan Boldin reeled in three catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns. The loss dropped the Ravens to 9-4 and was the first time since 2009 that Baltimore has lost consecutive games.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had everything going for them in week 14, they were coming off of a victory over the Ravens in week 13 and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was returning to the line-up, but the visiting San Diego Chargers did not care as they pounded the Steelers 34-24 in a game that was not nearly as close as they score indicates. San Diego led 34-10 in the fourth quarter before Pittsburgh scored a couple of touchdowns. In his return, Roethlisberger completed 22 of 44 pass attempts for 285 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, while Mike Wallace reeled in seven grabs for 112 yards and two touchdowns. In reading those stats you may be wondering just how the Steelers lost, well they only mustered 69 total rushing yards and their defense allowed four touchdowns. The loss dropped Pittsburgh to 7-6 on the season, and remain tied with the Bengals for the final playoff spot in the AFC.
Winners of four straight, Cincinnati came into their matchup against the Dallas Cowboys flying high and making a playoff push after being 3-5 at one point this season, but Dallas used a last second field goal for a 20-19 road victory and erased a nine point fourth quarter deficit. The Cowboys were dealing with the grief of losing their teammate Jerry Brown to a tragic auto accident Saturday morning, and found a way to get the victory in a game where the Bengals were in control for most of it. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed 20 of 33 pass attempts for 206 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Benjarvis Green-Ellis continued his recent good play as he rushed for 89 yards on just 12 carries, while AJ Green was held in check for just 44 yards and was not the leading receiver for the Bengals for the first time in recent memory. Cincinnati dropped to 7-6 with the loss and sets up a huge matchup in week 16 against the Steelers as that game could decide the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.
The lone victory of the week for the AFC North went to the streaking Cleveland Browns as they destroyed the visiting Kansas City Chiefs 30-7. Cleveland's defense completely shut down the Chiefs, with the exception of one play, an 80 yard touchdown run by Jamaal Charles that gave Kansas City a 7-0 lead, but Cleveland would then score 30 unanswered points the rest of the way. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden had a solid day passing for 217 yards with no interception, while fellow rookie, runningback Trent Richardson rushed for two touchdowns. Cleveland has now won three straight and is 5-3 since starting the season 0-5. Believe it or not, although a lot of things would have to go their way, the Browns are not yet eliminated from playoff contention.
All four AFC North teams will be facing non-divisional opponents in week 15:
- Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-9) on Thursday Night Football
- Baltimore Ravens (9-4) vs Denver Broncos (10-3) Sunday at 1pm
- Cleveland Browns (5-8) vs Washington Redskins (7-6) Sunday at 1pm
- Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) at Dallas Cowboys (7-6) Sunday at 4:25pm
It should be another exciting week of AFC North football with so many playoff implications in play. Baltimore will be looking to end their first losing streak since 2009, but will have a tough challenge against Peyton Manning and the Broncos as well as new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell calling his first ever game.
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