Regardless of the outcomes on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals couldn't clinch the division this week. Still, a Cleveland Browns win at Heinz Field over the Pittsburgh Steelers would have gone a long way in solidifying Cincinnati's early shot at another division crown--especially with a win over each division rival already this year. The Baltimore Ravens have been struggling and hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have also been up-and-down in a weak AFC South division.
Both games were on Sunday's early slate, with one being a barn-burner and the other a laugher.
Steelers vs Browns:
The Steelers beat the Browns in Pittsburgh 30-6 and nothing went right for the Browns. The Steelers kept taking advantage of a variety of Browns mistakes. Johnny Manziel got his third start of the season and looked sharp at times, but still made some errors indicative of a young quarterback. "Johnny Football" finished 33-of-45 passing with 372 yards, a touchdown and an interception. It's a miracle he finished with those numbers, given the atrocious play of both the offensive line and the Cleveland secondary. There was also a scary moment when Manziel took an ugly facemask penalty from Arthur Moats, where he turned Manziel almost completely around.
The Steelers gameplan for Johnny Manziel is mostly centered around ripping his head off. https://t.co/YCF23wLOpr pic.twitter.com/HPcRcUUkzA— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) November 15, 2015
Cleveland's Achilles heel on the day, aside from the allowance of six sacks, was multiple penalties--especially in the secondary. The team gave up about the length of two football fields in penalty yardage (12 for 188 yards), allowing the Steelers to capitalize on multiple occasions. Cam Erving, the second of two Brown's 2015 first round picks, was abused in his first pro start, as he had a false start and a hold, as well as allowing a sack and a run play to be stuffed. Yikes.
The Steelers had Ben Roethlisberger activated for the game, even though he had been suffering from a mid-foot sprain, but it was Landry Jones who got the start. Early in the game, Jones suffered an ankle injury himself, paving the way for Big Ben to take over the reigns. He played outstanding, continuously picking on the beleaguered Cleveland secondary, finishing with 379 passing yards and three touchdowns, against just one interception.
Pittsburgh's defense forced three turnovers (two fumbles, one interception), while the Steelers brought down Manziel six times. The Steelers are now 6-4, as they've put together wins with duct tape and bandages. They sit behind the current 8-0 Bengals in the division, and have a bye next week.
Ravens vs Jaguars:
You had to see the ending of the Jaguars and Ravens game to believe it. After a lot of back-and-forth for the first three quarters, Baltimore held a slim 14-13 lead over Jacksonville. The Jaguars' Blake Bortles answered with a touchdown strike to Allen Robinson, but a failed two-point conversion put them up only 19-14. Joe Flacco, who struggled on the day with two egregious interceptions, answered with his third touchdown pass of the day with seven and a half minutes left in the contest.
Both teams punted the ball to each other, with the Jaguars starting at their own 20-yard line with just over a minute to play. After a string of bad plays, the Ravens had two chances to ice the game and go home. They didn't take advantage.
As Bortles has done frequently in his young career, he fluttered an ill-advised pass on a third and long. Baltimore safety, Kendrick Lewis, dove for the ball and appeared to have the game-clinching interception, but allowed it to escape his grasp. At the time, it didn't appear too devastating, because it brought up a 3rd-and-15 and subsequent 4th-and-four from about midfield.
The game appeared to be over as Bortles took the snap just before the game clock expired and look discombobulated with the football. After scrambling, defensive end Elvis Dumervil brought Bortles down and the time read zero. But, yellow laundry was on the field and Dumervil was tagged for a facemask against Bortles, netting the Jaguars 15 more yards and another play with zeros on the dial.
Jacksonville kicker Jason Myers has had his struggles in 2014 and had already missed a chip shot early in the contest, but he looked to atone for the mistake with a big 53-yard bomb and an improbable victory. He reared back and nailed it, putting them in the hunt in the very soft AFC South.
The game-winning kick by Jason Myers was over twice as long as the 26-yarder he missed earlier. WATTBA. pic.twitter.com/I1hZrhxoDi— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) November 15, 2015
Perhaps the most staggering thing about the Ravens this year is their total lack of discipline and depth--two things that have made them a perennial AFC powerhouse over the past two decades. Baltimore committed four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles), while also committing nine penalties for 121 yards. A standard of John Harbaugh-coached teams since he became the Ravens head coach in 2008 is discipline and the 2015 version of the team isn't exuding that trait at all.
Current AFC North standings: