Recapping Week 6 in the AFC North, which saw the Steelers win while the Ravens and Browns fell flat.
The Baltimore Ravens lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 20-25
Ravens lose in ugly fashion, again
This just may be the Ravens this year. At first we thought they were a good team that just caught a few tough breaks, or that they were just too injured in key positions. However, even with Steve Smith Sr., Justin Forsett, and Crockett Gillmore all playing, the Ravens still struggled on offense for most of the game. Smith Sr. had a great game with seven catches for 137 yards and a touchdown, but he had a key drop for a touchdown that instead turned into a Justin Tucker field goal. Forsett failed to get going against a very stout 49ers run defense, but Gillmore failed to provide much in the passing game. He only had three catches for 30 yards. Joe Flacco looked horrible. He had one interception where he was late over the middle of the field and another where it looked more like a punt than a pass.
The easiest way to tell you how bad the Ravens defense was is to look at Colin Kaepernicks's stats, He was 16 of 27 throwing the ball with 340 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 76 yard bomb to Torrey Smith. Recently cut 49er cornerback, Shareece Wright, was burned twice on the day. The Ravens at least contained Carlos Hyde who managed only 55 yards on 21 carries. They also managed to hold the 49ers to field goals on a few red zone trips, but their gamble to let Kaepernick beat them throwing the ball clearly failed.
Ravens players give up during potential game winning drive
Despite playing so poorly the Ravens had a chance, down by five with a minute and six seconds left on their own 20, to score a touchdown to win the game. Instead the Ravens had apparently already rolled over. After two completions several offensive players showed any sort of hustle back to the line of scrimmage. This resulted in valuable seconds being wasted. This is what it looks like when players have given up on their season.
The Ravens were once 1-3 after a beating the Steelers on Thursday Night. They then had a long week to prepare for Browns at home then a game against the struggling 49ers. Past Ravens teams would've taken advantage of this and returned to .500 at 3-3. This is a new Ravens team though. They had the Browns game in hand and failed to close it out. Then with an opportunity to win a game they had no business winning, they gave up. Put a fork in the Ravens, because they are done.
The Cleveland Browns lost to the Denver Broncos, 23-26
Browns refuse to take a gift wrapped upset from Broncos
In probably on of the most frustrating games to watch Sunday, the Browns did all they could to let Denver walk out of Cleveland with a win. It all started after Karlos Dansby's pick six gave the Browns a 20-16 lead. There is probably a chart that says you should go for two instead of the extra point here, but a five point lead seemed more valuable than six, but realistically I'm arguing with the benefit of hindsight. The Browns failed their two point conversion. In any case, the Browns still had the lead, for a few seconds. Peyton Manning immediately came back with a 75 yard bomb to Emmanuel Sanders to make it 23-20. Again that extra point seems super valuable now.
The Browns then drove down the field into field goal range. They got to the 8-yard line when the Broncos used their last time out on third and seven. There was a minute and 42 seconds left in the game and the Browns had a play to get a touchdown or even a first down. They called a pick play with Brian Hartline running underneath from the perimeter (similar concept to the Seahawks Super Bowl play). It was covered. Josh McCown made the right move to get put of the pocket, but none of his receivers could get open. Then he made huge clock management error and threw the ball away with a minute and 33 seconds left. Rather than fall down or slide and run some clock he saved the Broncos about 40 seconds. However, the Broncos let this too pass with a Demaryius Thomas drop and a weird Sanders play that was luckily ruled incomplete. In overtime the Broncos were still in the giving mood as Manning made a mental mistake by trying to force a pass that was instead intercepted. This gave the Browns the ball on Denver's 39 yard line in amazing position to win the game. Instead in three plays the Browns lost 13 yards and were forced to punt. They never saw the ball again as the Broncos finally finished off the game. Another heartbreaker for the Browns.
The Browns played well, for the most part, and still lost
There was a gameplan for the Browns to upset the Broncos and they almost executed it. While the Broncos are unbeaten, they are far from perfect. Their offense had struggled to score touchdowns, and haven't been shy about turning the ball over. The Browns held the Broncos to 9 points on three trips inside the 20 and had three interceptions, with one being returned for a touchdown. The Browns' running game, while far from impressive, was servicable and did its part. Josh McCown even threw a couple of touchdowns, so how did the Browns still end up with a loss?
First the Browns need to limit their own turnovers. They did not. McCown had two interceptions, including his own pick six. Next, the Browns couldn't contain the abysmal Denver running attack. Ronnie Hillman had over 100 yards in three quarters. The Broncos also were effective running the ball on their game winning drive in overtime. The Browns' struggling run defense will continue to be something they will simply have to overcome, because if they couldn't stop the Broncos from running the ball, they're going to have a hard time stopping anyone from running it.
Johnny Manziel in the news again for off the field incident
Odds are, depending on how you feel about Johnny Manziel you already have your version of the truth decided on this incident. Manzeil's car was approached by a cop after an afternoon spent with his girlfriend involving alcohol. The duo was pulled over on the side of the road fighting, when the police arrived. Regardless of what really happened in the car, it probably isn't the best thing to have your young quarterback, who spent time in rehab during the offseason, drinking again.
The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals, 25-13
Landry Jones takes advantage of opportunity, shocks everyone
If you heard Michael Vick left the game for the Steelers after getting injured and that Landry Jones would be forced into action, you would probably expect an Arizona rout. Instead Jones seized the opportunity and decided to just throw the ball to Martavis Bryant, who saw his first action since suspension. Jones finished 8 for 12 with a pair of touchdowns to Bryant including an 88-yard catch and run to seal the victory. Jones made quite the case for himself to keep the starting role for as long as Ben Roethlisbereger is out with his knee injury, and he may have to as Vick isn't expected back against the Chiefs this week and Roethlisberger's status remains in the air. The Steelers improve to 2-1 without Roethlisberger in the lineup, which is really saying something about this team.
The Steelers' defense should have rest of NFL concerned
The Steelers' defense held one of the most potent offenses in check on Sunday. Even though Palmer threw for 421 yards and a touchdown, the defense picked him off twice including once in the redzone. They held the Cardinals to a measly 13 points which was their lowest point total of the season, by far. The Steelers curretly boast a top five scoring defense. What was supposed to be an Achilles heel has turned into a strength for this team.