AFC North: Bengals keep top spot as Browns, Steelers take losses

To say that the AFC North has shaped up much differently than anyone might have predicted in the 2018 NFL regular season is an understatement. Not many experts, or fans, would have anticipated that the Cincinnati Bengals would exit Week 4 at the top of the division and the Baltimore Ravens in a close second with a matching win-loss record. While the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers were expected to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, they are both floundering after tying each other in their first meeting and winning just one other game through four weeks.

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Cincinnati Bengals 37 – Atlanta Falcons 36

Experiencing the improbable

With just seven seconds left on the game clock after both teams went back and forth on Sunday for a combined 902 yards of offense, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was able to find veteran receiver A.J. Green for a 13-yard touchdown pass that led to one of the most dramatic victories of Week 4. There was a chance, however, for the Falcons to go for the impossible – and they did. Matt Ryan threw up a Hail Mary that landed in Julio Jones‘ hands but Bengals safety Clayton Fejedelem secured the tackle at the Cincinnati 11-yard line to end the game.

Dalton went 29-of-41 for 337 yards with three touchdowns and an interception on the day. Eight different receivers caught passes led by Tyler Boyd, who had 11 receptions for 100 yards. Giovani Bernard had a big game with 15 rushes for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

Ryan went 29-for-39 for 419 yards and three touchdowns. Jones caught nine passes for 173 yards. Mohamed Sanu added six receptions for 111 yards while Calvin Ridley had four catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bengals suffered the loss of tight end Tyler Eifert who suffered a gruesome ankle injury as Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell tackled him and who, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, is lost for the season and will have surgery ‘imminently’. The 28-year-old Eifert had signed a one-year, $5.5 million deal to prove that he still had what it took to remain in the NFL. After the game, Eifert sent the following message on Twitter:

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Cleveland Browns 42 – Oakland Raiders 45

Woeful loss in overtime pains Mayfield

Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, who earned his first NFL start against the Raiders, found out what it’s like to be a professional football player in a league where – as they say – any given Sunday can be a miracle or a disappointment. While the final score would seem to indicate the game was a real barn-burner, the reality was that when the offense played well, the defense was horrible.

While Mayfield turned the ball over four times (two interceptions, two fumbles) on his way to a two-touchdown day (21-of-41 completions for 295 yards; four rushes for ten yards), it wasn’t his fault that when it came time for the defense to get the offense back on the field, they failed to do so. After the game, however, Mayfield told members of the media he felt he’d let the team down.

That isn’t to say that the Browns defense completely fell apart. In fact, the turnovers put their backs squarely against the wall but the defense also allowed Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to complete 35-of-58 passing attempts for 437 yards and four touchdowns to two interceptions. The Browns defense also got torched by Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 130 yards on 20 carries; his longest went for 52 yards.

Nick Chubb led the Browns in rushing with 105 yards on just three attempts for two touchdowns. Carlos Hyde finished with 82 yards on 22 attempts and a touchdown.

Darren Fells and Jarvis Landry both scored receiving touchdowns. David Njoku had the most targets with five for 52 yards. Rashard Higgins led all receivers with 61 yards on four catches.

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Baltimore Ravens 26 – Pittsburgh Steelers 14

Not the rivalry anyone expected

To say that the game on Sunday Night between the Steelers and Ravens left a lot to be desired is almost too kind. Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense found ways to brutalize the Steelers defense that still is unable to manage even the relatively tame playbook utilized by Baltimore in this game. The score could have really been out of control had Baltimore converted their drives into touchdowns instead of field goals by Justin Tucker.

Flacco went 28-of-42 for 363 yards and two touchdowns while hitting 11 different offensive targets on the day. His top receiver was John Brown who had 116 yards on just three receptions and a touchdown. Both Alex Collins and Javorius “Buck” Allen combined for 21 rushing attempts for 72 yards.

Ben Roethlisberger was unable to muster much of an offensive response for Pittsburgh as the run game was shut down for the most part and he was unable to get on the same page with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. His most reliable target was tight end Vance McDonald who had suffered a fumble in the first quarter. Without the defense being able to turn the field, the Steelers mounted just one quarter of valuable effort against a Baltimore team that did enough to outman and outplay them.

Roethlisberger went 27-of-47 for 274 yards (missing the mark of a fourth consecutive game with 300 yards passing), one touchdown and one interception.

James Conner had just nine carries for 19 yards as the only real rushing attack before the Steelers were forced to go to the pass. Brown had 62 yards on five receptions and one touchdown. Smith-Schuster had 60 yards on four receptions. McDonald was targeted five times for 62 yards, matching Brown’s totals. Ryan Switzer saw the most targets as he was used out of the offensive backfield in place of Conner, at times, with seven for 32 yards.

Division Standings Through Week 4

Team W L T PF PA Streak
CIN 3 1 0 126 113 W1
BAL 3 1 0 123 65 W2
CLE 1 2 1 102 104 L1
PIT 1 2 1 102 116 L1

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