AFC NORTH ROUNDUP: A wildcard berth is at stake

Street Talk AFC NORTH ROUNDUP: A wildcard berth is at stake

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Baltimore Ravens

"It’s frustrating. It’s first-and-1 from the 1, you have to put it in," Ravens center Matt Birk said. "It’s just that simple. I could talk about it for an hour, but it doesn’t get any simpler than that."

The Indianapolis Colts kept Baltimore out of the end zone Sunday and got the go-ahead field goal from former Ravens kicker Matt Stover in a 17-15 victory. Indianapolis overcame three turnovers, including two interceptions by Peyton Manning (one each by Ed Reed and Dawan Landry). The defense forced a field goal after Baltimore got a first-and-goal at the 1 in the fourth quarter, and linebacker Gary Brackett sealed the win with an interception in the closing minutes.

Baltimore’s last chance ended when Ed Reed fumbled on a punt return with 17 seconds left. Billy Cundiff made field goals of 46, 44, 38, 36 and 20 yards in his debut with the Ravens. But he also was wide right on a 30-yard attempt that would have given Baltimore a 15-14 lead in the third quarter. Cundiff tied Stover’s team record for field goals in a game. He was signed Wednesday after Baltimore cut an ineffective Steve Hauschka — who originally replaced Stover. After Stover’s field goal made it 17-15, Brackett picked off Joe Flacco’s pass at the Indianapolis 13 with 2:42 remaining. "I made a dumb play and threw an interception in a tight situation," Flacco said. Taking advantage of the Colts’ injury-depleted defensive backfield, Flacco went 23 for 35 for 256 yards. But he couldn’t get Baltimore into the end zone, and that proved costly when the Ravens had to kick a field goal in the fourth quarter after getting a first down at the Indianapolis 1.

Indianapolis has won seven straight over Baltimore, including a playoff game in which the Colts failed to score a TD. … The Ravens have lost five of seven after a 3-0 start. … Baltimore LB Terrell Suggs (knee) was inactive, ending his run of consecutive games at 105.  

Cincinnati Bengals

"Coach (Marvin) Lewis talks about it all the time, about really stealing games on the road," Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco said. "These are one of the teams — no disrespect to them — that we should have had the game."

Bruce Gradkowski threw a 29-yard game-tying touchdown pass to Louis Murphy with 33 seconds left and Brandon Myers forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set up Sebastian Janikowski’s game-winning 33-yard field goal that gave the Raiders a 20-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. It took nearly all 60 minutes, four turnovers and a thrilling comeback for the Raiders to improve to 10-0 all time in Oakland against the Bengals, including one playoff win. But this had to be one of the most painful for Cincinnati. The Bengals maintained their one-game lead over Pittsburgh in the AFC North after the Steelers lost in overtime at Kansas City, yet this loss could prove critical to seedings or even a playoff berth down the stretch.

The Bengals scored touchdowns on two of their first three drives, but managed only three more points the rest of the way. Fullback Jeremi Johnson fumbled at the Oakland 15 with Cincinnati leading 17-10 and Shayne Graham also missed a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter.

Palmer completed 14 of 22 passes for 207 yards and became the first Bengals quarterback to run for two touchdowns in a game since Jack Thompson in 1979. Rookie Bernard Scott ran for a season-high 119 yards in place of the injured Cedric Benson. Larry Johnson had two carries for 5 yards in his debut for the Bengals.

Cleveland Browns

"We had plenty opportunities and at the end we just couldn’t close it out," Cleveland coach Eric Mangini said. "I’m disappointed for them and I’m sick about the outcome."

Brady Quinn threw four TD — surpassing his previous career total — and connected with Michael Gaines with 5:44 left to put the Browns ahead after helping them score a franchise-record 24 points in the first quarter. The former Notre Dame star could only hope what he did was enough. "I was praying and hoping that our defense could get a stop for us," he said. Lions QB Matthew Stafford threw his fifth touchdown pass from 1 yard to Brandon Pettigrew and Jason Hanson’s extra point with no time on the clock gave Detroit a thrilling 38-37 win over Cleveland on Sunday. When it was over, Cleveland players were sprawled all over the field as the Lions celebrated a rare victory. Former Detroit defensive tackle Shaun Rogers went down on a knee for several moments to contemplate his latest loss after futilely trying to block the extra point.

It’s not of much consolation, but Cleveland showed a pulse on offense after going three games without a TD and surpassing its season high in points before the first quarter ended. Quinn, who started the game with three TD passes in three seasons, was 21 of 33 for 304 yards and did not throw an interception. Mohamed Massaquoi caught five passes for 115 yards and a score for the Browns, who have lost five straight.

Cleveland couldn’t pick up enough first downs to run out the clock and gave Detroit another chance with a costly punt after Quinn missed Massaquoi on a third-and-5 from his 42.

Pittsburgh Steelers

"When you let a team hang around like that, you give them a chance. When you give them hope, they thrive off the crowd noise. They took it into overtime and did what they had to do." – Steelers receiver Hines Ward.

A few minutes after Ben Roethlisberger wobbled off the field Sunday with a possible concussion, Ryan Succop kicked a 22-yard field goal with 8:28 left in overtime and the Kansas City Chiefs snapped a team-record 10-game home losing streak with a 27-24 victory over the stunned Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger had thrown for 398 yards and three touchdowns along with 2 interceptions when he apparently took a knee to the helmet while being sacked by Derrick Johnson and gave way to Charlie Batch. Coach Mike Tomlin said he was not certain how severe the injury might be. "He took a blow, needless to say, it was a concussion-oriented thing so I doubt he was going to come back into the football game," Tomlin said. "I don’t have a lot of information in terms of where he is or his level of availability. We will have more information as we proceed."

In regulation, the Steelers had the ball for almost 19 minutes longer than the Chiefs and out-gained the Chiefs 463-206 in total yards. "I think we lost the momentum in the third quarter with all the turnovers and stuff like that," said Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, who had 10 catches for 128 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown. Roethlisberger’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Mendenhall (21 carries, 80 yards) gave the Steelers a 24-17 lead after the Steelers recovered a Matt Cassel turnover at the KC 27. Heath Miller contributed another big receiving day hauling in 7 passes for 95 yards and a TD.

The Steelers have given up a fumble, interception or kick return for a touchdown in eight consecutive games. … Roethlisberger’s big game followed one of his worst, when he threw for 174 yards and had a 51.5 passer rating against Cincinnati the week before.

AFC North

Team

W

L

T

PCT

PF

PA

Home

Road

DIV

PCT

AFC

PCT

NFC

Streak

Cincinnati

7

3

0

.700

215

167

3-2

4-1

5-0

1.000

5-3

.625

2-0

Lost 1

Pittsburgh

6

4

0

.600

231

184

4-1

2-3

1-2

.333

4-3

.571

2-1

Lost 2

Baltimore

5

5

0

.500

237

171

3-2

2-3

2-2

.500

5-4

.556

0-1

Lost 1

Cleveland

1

9

0

.100

115

263

0-4

1-5

0-4

.000

1-5

.167

0-4

Lost 5

 
Week #11 Scores 

Indianapolis     17       Baltimore     15

Oakland            20       Cincinnati     17

Detroit               38       Cleveland     37

Kansas City      27       Pittsburgh     24
Week #12 Match-ups and ITH Predictions

Baltimore (5-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-4)

Who has the easiest job in the NFL this week? Dick LeBeau knows that if you double-team Derrick Mason and you can contain Ray Rice, Joe Flacco has nowhere else to go with the football. Mark Clayton doesn’t seem to care that he is irrelevant on Sundays. LJ Smith, Kelley Washington, Demetrius Williams, and LeRon McClain could all be viable weapons for the Ravens, but the coaching brain trust doesn’t seem to be able to figure out how to incorporate them in the attack. Todd Heap will be needed to chip the Steelers pass rush ends and Ben Roethlisberger should have success against a weakened Ravens secondary assuming that Fabian Washington can’t go. Rashard Mendenhall has something to prove against the unit that prematurely ended his rookie season. Heath Miller is a tough match-up for the Ravens linebackers. The Ravens have abundant talent, but John Harbaugh is not yet capable of beating Mike Tomlin.  ITH sees the Steelers taking a close contest.

Pittsburgh   19     Baltimore   17   

Cincinnati (7-3) vs. Cleveland (1-9)

It took 10 games for the Browns offense to wake up, and they still lost; to the Detroit Lions no less. Cincinnati returns home after an embarrassing loss to the Raiders in Oakland. In the first match-up in Cleveland, the Bengals were extended to overtime. Look for a tough game in Cincinnati with the Bengals escaping late. The match-up in the battle of Ohio doesn’t always follow the expert’s script. The Bengals better be wary, or they could lose this one too.

Cincinnati   24     Cleveland 14

Record Week #11 and YTD:   1 – 1/16 – 10

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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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