AFC NORTH ROUNDUP: Bengals ‘believe’

Street Talk AFC NORTH ROUNDUP: Bengals ‘believe’

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Baltimore Ravens

 
"It really [stinks] to get penalized for playing physical football like that," Ravens defensive end-linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I’m not sure if Ray hit him in the head. I’m not sure Chris Carr did illegal touching. I’m not sure if Frank Walker did illegal touching. In a game that close; I think it has to be ‘ Hands down, I got to call that.’ "

 
For the Baltimore Ravens, it was a familiar loss. The defense was not able to close out a game in which it was provided a lead late in the game. Three penalties in the final drive helped to seal their fate. An illegal contact penalty against Chris Carr and an unnecessary roughness call against Ray Lewis preceded the topper, a pass interference penalty against Frank Walker on a third-and-16 from the

Baltimore
30 (although the infraction was called by the officials against Ed Reed).

Baltimore
has lost two straight after starting 3-0 for the second time in franchise history. Last week, two roughing the passer calls played a key part in a 27-21 defeat at
New England. Against

Cincinnati
, the Ravens were penalized 10 times for 76 yards, with several of the infractions seemingly coming at the worst possible time.

 
The Ravens, quite simply, did not come close to dominating. They were limited to one offensive touchdown after averaging 32.5 points in their first four games, and the defense yielded 403 yards — including 142 on the ground.

Baltimore
trailed 10-7 when Ray Rice took a screen pass from Joe Flacco, then turned upfield with several tacklers in his way. After ducking linebacker Brandon Johnson, the 5-foot-8 running back dipped his left arm and stayed upright by planting his fingers on the artificial turf before completing the 48-yard play. A 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by S Ed Reed gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, and later in the half, Reed knocked the ball loose from Chad Ochocinco that

Baltimore
recovered at its own 16.

 
Cincinnati Bengals

 
"They believe they can win, no matter what the circumstances are," Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis said. "We keep talking about that. Don’t worry about it, don’t flinch; keep playing."

 
In a duel for first place in the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals found a way to win another close game. Carson Palmer threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell with 22 seconds left to cap an 80-yard drive fueled by

Baltimore
penalties, and the Bengals escaped with a 17-14 victory Sunday. All five of

Cincinnati
‘s games this season have been decided by seven points or fewer. The Bengals have won three straight games by three points apiece. The Bengals appeared destined to come out on the short end of this one until Palmer masterfully directed the final drive — with the help of three yellow flags. After the 3rd flag, Palmer found Andre Caldwell open over the middle for the game winning score.
 


Cincinnati
‘s Cedric Benson ran for 120 yards, becoming the first player in 40 games to eclipse 100 yards against the Ravens. Palmer was 18 for 31 for 271 yards, and Chad Ochocinco had seven catches for 94 yards. The Bengals took a 10-7 lead in the third quarter with an 84-yard drive kept alive by a penalty against Baltimore cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who was called for illegal contact during a third-down play in which Palmer was sacked. Four plays later, Benson broke loose for a 28-yard touchdown run, which put him over 100.


Cincinnati
botched the extra point, but the Ravens were called for illegal formation and Shayne Graham converted the extra chance.


 

Cleveland Browns

 
"The way it turned out, I thought it was beautiful," Browns Coach Eric Mangini said of his first win with

Cleveland
. "It’s great. It’s fantastic. I couldn’t be happier."

 
Punter Dave Zastudil landed seven of nine punts inside the Bills 20. That included his last one, a difficult-to-pick-up roller that Roscoe Parrish muffed, allowing the Browns to take over at the

Buffalo
16. Seven plays later — and after Jamal Lewis was stopped inches from the goal line on third-and-goal from the 3 — backup kicker Billy Cundiff hit an 18-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining.

Cleveland
snapped a 10-game losing streak, one short of matching the franchise worst, the same week the team traded star receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets.
 
The Browns’ passing attack was anemic. Derek Anderson went 2 of 17 for a mere 23 yards and an interception to register a 15.1 passer rating in his second straight start. The Browns managed nine first downs and 193 yards of offense. They were led by Lewis, who had 117 yards rushing on 31 carries in his first game back after missing two with a hamstring injury. Zastudil played a key role in bottling up the Bills offense. He had two punts downed at the

Buffalo
1 and another at the 4.
 
 "Special teams, we really came through for this football team," Josh Cribbs said. "The defense held their side, and Jamal Lewis took care of the rest."

 
The Browns offense failed to score a touchdown for the third time this season, and ninth time in their past 11 games.

 
Pittsburgh Steelers

 
"Man, they traveled awesome,"

Pittsburgh
coach Mike Tomlin said. "It was spectacular to stand on the visiting sideline and see the fan support that we had today in this building."

 
Ben Roethlisberger had a season-high three touchdowns passes through three quarters and

Pittsburgh
‘s defense was just good enough in the fourth, holding off the Detroit Lions for a 28-20 win Sunday. Steelers linebacker James Harrison had three sacks, matching the total he had entering the game, and forced a fumble, much to the delight of many of the folks who filled Ford Field. The Steelers finished with seven sacks and the game drew 59,333 fans and at least half looked and sounded like they were rooting for the visitors. For the first time this season, the Steelers won on the road — after blowing fourth-quarter leads at
Cincinnati and

Chicago
— and won consecutive games.

 
Rashard Mendenhall’s TD (15 carries, 71 yards) run midway through the first quarter gave

Pittsburgh
the lead and Roethlisberger’s third TD pass provided a 15-point cushion with 6:05 left in the third. Roethlisberger was 23 of 30 for 277 yards with TD passes to Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Heath Miller. One poorly thrown deep out was intercepted by William James and returned 38 yards for a score in the second quarter.

 
Pittsburgh S Troy Polamalu (left knee) and RB Willie Parker (left toe) were inactive.

 

AFC North

Team

W

L

T

PCT

PF

PA

Home

Road

DIV

PCT

AFC

PCT

NFC

Streak


Cincinnati

4

1

0

.800

101

90

1-1

3-0

3-0

1.000

3-1

.750

1-0

Won 4


Baltimore

3

2

0

.600

138

97

2-1

1-1

1-1

.500

3-2

.600

0-0

Lost 2


Pittsburgh

3

2

0

.600

113

98

2-0

1-2

0-1

.000

2-1

.667

1-1

Won 2


Cleveland

1

4

0

.200

55

121

0-2

1-2

0-2

.000

1-3

.250

0-1

Won 1

 
Week #5 Scores

 

Cincinnati     17         

Baltimore
     14


Cleveland
       6          Buffalo            3

Pittsburgh      28        

Detroit
           20


 

Week #6 Match-ups and ITH Predictions

 

 Baltimore (3–2) at

Minnesota
(5–0)

The Ravens defense appears to be headed for a difficult challenge on Sunday. No doubt that the Vikings coaching staff will notice the way in which Cedric Benson ate up yards against the mighty run-stuffers at M&T, and they are sure to provide a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. Not to mention that they have to worry about Brett Favre and the Vikings TE who don’t drop passes. The Ravens have to hope that their offense comes back to life this week for them to have a chance. The Vikings will make Ravens fans remember the ambush in Indy from last year.

 

Minnesota   30    

Baltimore
   16

 

Cincinnati (4–1) vs.

Houston
(2–3)

The Texans made a valiant comeback in

Arizona
as Matt Schaub completed 35 of 50 pass attempts for 371 yards in the Texans loss to the Cardinals. The Bengals return home in first place in the AFC North and are 3-0 versus division opponents. No doubt that their confidence is rising each week, but Gary Kubiak will have Matt Schaub challenge the Bengals defense more effectively than the Ravens were able to do.

Cincinnati
wins their 5th straight at the buzzer. 
 

Cincinnati   31    

Houston
   28


 

Pittsburgh (3 – 2) vs.

Cleveland
(1 – 4)

The Steelers haven’t played 60 minutes of defense yet this year, allowing the opposition to stay close in games that they shouldn’t be close in. The Browns can’t manage any kind of consistent passing attack and cannot rely on Josh Cribbs to win games by himself. Even though Derek Anderson has had some semblance of success in games past, Troy Polamalu can rest another week.

 

Pittsburgh   28     

Cleveland
   10


 

Record Week #5 and YTD: 1 – 2/9 – 7

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Eric Buckner

About Eric Buckner

Eric Buckner is a native of Baltimore and has lived in the area his entire life. A graduate of Towson University , Eric has been a student of professional football since the day he wept in his grandfather's bedroom after the Baltimore Colts were upset by the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. A loyal fan of the Colts and subsequently the Ravens, Eric's passion for the NFL is unwavering as evidenced by his near flawless attendance record at Ravens' games. He's missed only one preseason game -- back in 2005. We'll cut him some slack since he was on his honeymoon. You won't find Eric slacking when it comes to covering the AFC North for ProFootball24x7.com.   More from Eric Buckner

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