AFC North Week 2 Wrapup

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Safe to say the shine is off the AFC North, at least for the moment.

Our beloved division and teams fell on their collective keys last Sunday, as all four teams lost, with three of those in particularly humiliating fashion.  The cliché says one game does not a season make, so rushing to final judgements after Week 2 is a bit foolish…but football fans aren’t known to be rational creatures when it comes to their loyalties and expectations.

So it goes.

Anyway, here’s what happened.


Dolphins 42, Ravens 38

It’s once again “gut-check” time in Baltimore after a resurgence of their 2021 fourth quarter defensive ineptitude, this time in crippling fashion.  Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa threw four TD passes in the fourth quarter alone, the last of which was a 7-yard go-ahead score to WR Jaylen Waddle with 14 seconds remaining, completing a wild finish and highlighting several key defensive breakdowns by a Ravens franchise that was once hailed as a perennial defensive stalwart.  While one can certainly compliment Tagovailoa for his sterling effort, the fault lies mostly with the Baltimore secondary, as baffling, elementary errors in deployment and communication were prominent in one of the NFL’s worst defensive stretches in a decade.  Also in dire need of adjustment, the Baltimore rushing attack is floundering and in no way resembles the clock-killing machine the Ravens deployed just a couple of years ago.  Some real work to do for this team.


Jets 31, Browns 30

It was one thing to lose to Jets backup QB Joe Flacco when he was a regular starter and was surrounded with premier talent.  This has seldom been the case since Flacco departed Baltimore, but Cleveland managed to spur a resurgence of “Playoff Joe”, who wrangled a performance worthy of the 2012 Ravens team he led to the Super Bowl to beat the Browns with a 15-yard strike to WR Garrett Wilson with 0.22 on the clock.  Minus the fourth quarter collapse, the Browns had played reasonably well, with a 3-TD rushing performance from uber-RB Nick Chubb and a 101-yard receiving day from WR Amari Cooper.  Edge rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett each collected a sack, but like Baltimore, the defensive breakdowns appear to have mostly been in the secondary, where coverages and schemes appear to be way behind passing offenses league-wide.


Patriots 17, Steelers 14

After their relatively surprising win over the 2021 AFC champion Bengals last week, the Steelers appear to be in a bit of turmoil after their home-opening loss to the Patriots.  Their offensive play designs and personnel, particularly on the offensive line, are under real scrutiny, with several players expressing thinly-veiled disgust at the team’s anemic passing attack and suspect deployments.  The Patriots played adequate defense all game, but, to be fair, were rarely challenged by a team with three supposedly premier talents at WR and an all-pro RB.  A good percentage of the blame falls to Steelers QB Mitch Trubisky, who missed several open reads and scrambling opportunities, but again, the offensive line failed to show any improvement after a shaky Week 1.  I’d lists some play highlight, but there really weren’t any of note.  Burn it and salt the earth, as they say.


Bengals 17, Cowboys 20

In perhaps the most improbable of the day’s finishes, the Bengals fell to the Cowboys and backup QB Cooper Rush on a last-second 50-yard FG, but the real story was the performance of all-world Dallas LB Micah Parsons, whose two timely sacks and near-constant QB pressure made the difference in a close, at times ugly game that saw the Bengals scramble back in the fourth quarter only to, as seems to be the weekend’s theme, fail to make a defensive stop.  It has to be concerning to the Bengals front office that most of the offseason’s efforts to rebuild Cincinnati’s offensive line have yet to take root, resulting in last week’s interception-filled performance and this week’s plodding effort by QB Joe Burrow, who’s surely better than what he’s shown so far.


In a word…ugh.




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