AFC NORTH UPDATE

Street Talk AFC NORTH UPDATE

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The 2008 pre-season is underway and In the Hood is back for another year of updates on the 4 teams competing in the AFC North.
 
Baltimore Ravens   (1 – 0)
 
8/7/08     Baltimore   16     New England   15
8/16/08   vs. Minnesota
8/23/08   @ St. Louis
8/28/08   vs. Atlanta
 
For John Harbaugh, the Ravens’ 16-15 exhibition win Thursday was a good start to his head coaching career. Harbaugh got a look at the quarterbacks competing to succeed the retired Steve McNair. Kyle Boller started for Baltimore, Troy Smith replaced him and both played decently. First-round draft pick Joe Flacco looked like a rookie, losing a fumble on his second play. The Ravens got key plays from Yamon Figurs with a 52-yard punt return that set up their only touchdown and a 48-yard kickoff return that led to one of Matt Stover’s two field goals.
 
Fabian Washington had two interceptions for the Ravens. The Ravens led 16-3 on field goals by Stover of 42 and 44 yards and by Piotr Czech of 37 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run by Le’Ron McClain. Baltimore leading rusher Willis McGahee sat out with a knee injury. 
 
Cincinnati Bengals   (1 – 0)
 
8/11/08   Cincinnati   20     Green Bay   17
8/17/08   vs. Detroit
8/23/08   vs. New Orleans
8/28/08   @ Indianapolis
 
Playing without running back Rudi Johnson and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati didn’t gain a first down until early in the second quarter. Carson Palmer finished the game 5-for-9 for 33 yards with a touchdown, connecting with tight end Ben Utecht for a 14-yard score early in the second quarter. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick took over and led the Bengals on a drive, handing off to Chris Perry for a 6-yard touchdown that put Cincinnati ahead 14-10. Fitzpatrick led the Bengals into Packers territory again later in the quarter, and Shayne Graham’s 43-yard field goal stretched the Bengals’ lead to 17-10 going into halftime. Graham added a 32-yarder in the fourth quarter.
 
Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson played into the second quarter, catching one pass for 10 yards. The Bengals tagged Aaron Rodgers for an early interception off of a deflected pass, but he recovered to complete 9 of 15 throws for 117 yards and a touchdown.
 
Cleveland Browns   (0 – 1)
 
8/7/08     New York Jets   24   Cleveland   20
8/18/08   @ New York Giants
8/23/08   @ Detroit
8/28/08   vs. Chicago
 
Brett Favre’s big-play ability rubbed off on the New York Jets, who scored three long touchdowns in a 24-20 win over the Cleveland Browns as their new star quarterback watched from the sideline Thursday night. Dwight Lowery returned a punt 62 yards to score with 10:02 left to cap New York’s comeback from a 10-point deficit. Lowery and Hank Poteat both intercepted passes by Ken Dorsey in the final four minutes to preserve the lead. The Browns got yet another chance in the final seconds after a roughing-the-passer penalty and pass interference call put the ball on the 5. Dorsey’s ninth straight incompletion on the possession fell short as time expired. Cleveland scored on a 2-yard pass from Derek Anderson to Braylon Edwards, a 1-yard run by Jason Wright and two field goals by rookie Jason Reda to take a 20-10 lead. Edwards gave Cleveland a 7-0 lead with a spectacular one-handed catch of a ball thrown well behind him by Anderson. It capped a nine-play, 62-yard drive on Cleveland’s first possession. Anderson was 4-for-5 for 20 yards, twice connecting on passes to Donte Stallworth, who was signed away from the New England Patriots as a free agent. Browns Pro Bowl TE Kellen Winslow sat out due to a strained hamstring.
 
Pittsburgh Steelers   (1 – 0)
 
8/8/08     Pittsburgh   16     Philadelphia   10
8/14/08   @ Buffalo
8/23/08   @ Minnesota
8/28/08   vs. Carolina
 
A sore groin didn’t slow Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-string offense. Good thing, too, because the Steelers now face uncertainty at the backup quarterback position. Charlie Batch broke his right collarbone midway through the second quarter of the Steelers’ 16-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles Friday night. The Steelers looked at both Daunte Culpepper and Byron Leftwich this week to replace Batch and eventually signed Leftwich.  Batch could be out four-to-six weeks.
 
Roethlisberger completed a pair of 19-yarders, the second to Santonio Holmes for the game’s first score to cap a brisk, eight-play, 80-yard drive. The Steelers’ two biggest questions coming into the game were answered. With Alan Faneca gone, the offensive line protected Roethlisberger and opened large holes for Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker, who was coming off a broken leg that ended his 2007 season. Parker did not appear to be slowed as he ran three times for 20 yards on the opening drive before he was pulled. Mendenhall, the Steelers’ first-round draft pick out of Illinois, ran seven times for 34 yards. That included a nifty 15-yard run that he bounced outside, keeping alive a drive that led to Jeff Reed’s game-tying 20-yard field goal in the second quarter. Reed added two more field goals, including a 50-yarder midway through the fourth quarter.
 
 
Photo by Sabina Moran

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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.
 

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