AFC North Week 3 Wrapup

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With a mixed bag in the AFC North this week, we’re starting to see some themes emerging.  Each winning team leaned on a few trademark items to get the proverbial job done, while this week’s lone losing team attempted to do the same, to little effect.

Here’s the details, such as they are.


Steelers 17, Browns 29

In a closer-than-it-appeared game against a divisional tormentor, the Browns managed to hold on and pick up a garbage-time TD to seal a win over the Steelers.

The Browns did what they do, so to speak, in collecting 171 total rushing yards (113 by bruising RB Nick Chubb) and controlling the ball long enough to limit the Steelers’ opportunities.  Browns QB Jacoby Brissett played efficient, mistake-free football, accounting for two passing TDs and no turnovers in a mostly quiet performance.  16 of Brissett’s 21 completed passes went to WR Amari Cooper (101 yards) and TE David Njoku (9 receptions), with one TD pass to each included.

The Browns were competent defensively, but the lack of QB pressure from stalwart edge rusher Myles Garrett has to a little concerning, given the state of the Steelers’ offensive line.

Meanwhile, the Steelers looked a little better on offense than they had against the Patriots the week prior, but QB Mitch Trubisky still managed to underwhelm, despite all-pro caliber talents at the skill positions and (slightly) better protection overall.  Trubisky, through duress or just plain old panic, seems to have issues reading defenses currently, often delivering to the wrong target, off-target, or simply rushing due to perceived protection breakdowns.  Trubisky neither scored nor turned the ball over.  That level of mediocrity generally requires another area of the team to step up and produce to win the game, which simply didn’t happen for the Steelers.

The absence of edge rusher T.J. Watt had a substantial impact on the Steelers, who didn’t necessarily play poorly on defense, but were unable to corral the Cleveland rushing attack and Chubb.  Fill-in LB Alex Highsmith managed to get to Brissett a couple of times, but the defensive stats mostly show a lot of tackles downfield; a sign they did little to stop the run at the point of attack.


Ravens 37, Patriots 26

Oft-discussed QB Lamar Jackson continued his superlative season by tossing four TD passes and adding another via the ground attack.  Love him or no, there’s little doubt Jackson’s on a mission of sorts; either to become the highest-paid QB today or to win a title, and the two outcomes aren’t exclusive to each other.  Jackson was amply assisted by the return of RB J.K. Dobbins and the breakout performance of veteran RB Justice Hill, taking a lot of pressure off Jackson and adding some needed blocking in the pocket.  TE Mark Andrews was exceptional as Jackson’s all-purpose target, either as a checkdown option or in designed scoring routes (2 receiving TDs).

After a middling first half that saw the Patriots move the ball rather easily with QB Mac Jones and company, the Ravens’ defense produced four turnovers in the second half, the last of which left Jones writing in agony on the turf with what’s been diagnosed as a high ankle sprain.  CBs Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, having spent significant time on IR, both played the entire game for the first time this season, and each collected an INT.


Bengals 27, Jets 12

After the Bengals’ 0-2 start to the season, QB Joe Burrow asked that we relax.

So we did.  And they won, albeit over the confusing Jets, but there’s no argument to be made after Burrow threw three TD passes and was in control throughout.  The Bengals’ rushing attack was barely in evidence, but it didn’t make a lot of difference, as the Bengals never appeared pressed and simply looked for available options to compensate.  Of the team’s “big three” WR corp, Tyler Boyd (101 yards, TD) and Tee Higgins (93 yards) picked up the lion’s share of activity, while Ja’Marr Chase added a TD catch.  I believe this is referred to as a “workmanlike” performance overall.

Defensively, the Bengals harassed the Jets’ Week 2 hero, QB Joe Flacco, into four turnovers and no scores.  DE Trey Hendrickson recorded an excellent effort with 2.5 sacks and near-constant pressure on Flacco.  LB Akeem Davis-Gaither logged 13 tackles (9 solo) in a solid effort, especially in sealing the edge.


Onward, as they say…whoever “they” are.



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