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State of AFC North: Blowout for Steelers; frustration for Browns, Ravens

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The Browns were the latest AFC North team to be a victim of a highly questionable call from the refs. Baltimore is no longer undefeated. And, Pittsburgh is back on track with a big win.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Week 4 held surprises and frustrations for everyone, except the Steelers. The Ravens were knocked off the unbeaten path by the Raiders. The Browns made key errors late in the game and were the recipients of a bad call. And, the Steelers got back on track by beating up Kansas City.

Baltimore Ravens (3-1) defeated by Oakland Raiders (3-1): 27-28

Baltimore loses after failing to stop Oaklandon last drive

If you looked at the score of this game after looking at the stats of both teams, you’d think the Ravens would’ve won. The Ravens finally had more than 100 yards rushing, and Joe Flacco was efficient. The Ravens defense even pulled its weight for most of the game. Baltimore held Oakland to 62 yards rushing, and they also held Derek Carr in check. Carr finished with under 200 yards passing.

The problems start with the fact that Carr did throw for four touchdowns including three to Michael Crabtree. The last one being the game-winning touchdown pass. Two of the touchdowns were set up by an Oakland punt return to Baltimore’s six yard line and a turnover by Baltimore on their own side of the field.

It’s cliche, but the only stat that matters is the final score. Baltimore had been playing with fire in these close games with ad teams for three weeks prior to meeting up with the Raiders. Oakland is looking more and more like a playoff team, and they got it done when it mattered most. Time will tell if Baltimore will correct their slow starts.

The Ravens find running game with an ex-Brown

The Ravens finally found a way to run the football Sunday. A lot of that was due to naming Terrance West the lead back and benching the starter from last season Justin Forsett. It didn’t start out pretty, but by the second half West was gassing the Raiders.

The move to cut Forsett in the offseason, before bringing him back, seems less surprising now. Forsett had struggled the first three weeks only gaining 98 yards on 31 carries. West finished Week 4 with 113 rushing yards and one touchdown with 21 carries.

It only took West one week to out gain Forsett, and it may have only taken West one week to cement himself at the top of Baltimore’s running back depth chart.

Cleveland Browns (0-4) defeated by Washington Redskins (2-2): 20-31

Cleveland loses a tough one

The Browns actually looked decent in this game and it was tied at halftime 17-17. The Browns were running the ball well, and after giving up two touchdown drives early, the Browns defense started to slow down Washington.

In the second half, up 20-17, the Browns were at Washington’s 10 yard line when they fumbled the ball. Washington scored a touchdown on the following drive to go up 24-20. Easily creating a momentum shift and swing in the score. The Browns had two more turnovers in the half, and they never got close to scoring again. Unfortunately, one of those fumbles might have been recovered by the Browns, and looked like it was, however, the officials saw things differently and rewarded Washington with the ball. It almost makes the calls that went against the Bengals this year look good (more on this below).

This is the trouble with having a young team. Games like this happen. There were plenty of bright spots. Terrelle Pryor played well against Josh Norman, and he even caught a touchdown while being guarded by him. The running game looked really good. If the Browns ever manage to get a lead they’ll be able to grind the clock out. The other bright side is there is plenty to learn from this game, and that will be a constant for the Browns this season.

Questionable call by refs helped seal game for Washington

The Browns had a fumble when they were down 20-24. Duke Johnson carried the ball and was stripped a few yards down the field. A very quick scrum appeared to take place with Johnson almost immediately leaving the pile with the ball. However, the refs awarded the ball to Washington.

It is almost an unwritten rule that when a scrum takes place the player leaving the pile with the ball has it. Now if it’s a big enough pile that won’t happen. The refs will call it when they see it, but there were roughly five to six bodies in this pile, and Johnson left the pile with the ball just as the refs were coming into position to figure it out.

It was confusing because if you look at the tape you obviously see Johnson standing up with the ball, but the ref goes and looks at the two Washington players and a Browna player who are still engaged and starts patting one of Washington’s players on the head signaling he has it. However, there is no way he had it because at the same time the ref was signaling this, Johnson was standing up holding the ball in the air.

It's fair to say this may not have decided the game by itself, but Browns fans have a serious right to be upset over the way this was handled.

Steelers (3-1) beat Kansas City Chiefs(2-2): 43-14

Pittsburgh back to their dominating ways on offense

The one newsworthy thing to write about the Steelers shellacking (always wanted to say that) the Chiefs is that Le’Veon Bell played really well in his return.

Bell finished the game with 144 yards rushing on 18 carries and 34 yards on 5 catches. He looked like the Bell everyone knows all too well. His contributions in the passing and running game were a bit surprising given the game was over by halftime, and conditions weren’t great, but Pittsburgh obviously saw this as a chance to get Bell back into the fold for the regular season.

Outside of Bell, Pittsburgh’s defense held Kansas City scoreless until the fourth quarter. They Bounced back after letting Carson Wentz pick them apart in Week 3. Ben Roethlisberger had five touchdown passes. Two of those went to Antonio Brown.

Overall, the Steelers destroyed the Chiefs and there are only so many ways to write what the score obviously shows. Man, I really hate writing good things about the Steelers.

More injuries for Pittsburgh

The Steelers won big Sunday night, but they did end up losing some players to injuries before the game ended. The score may have had something to do with the players not returning, but we will see once this week’s practices start who is back to work.

Marcus Gilbert (foot), Darrius Heyward-Bey (shoulder), and Jarvis Jones (ankle) all left Sunday’s game. Jones and Gilbert are obviously critical as Gilbert is the starting right tackle and Jones is heavily used in the pass rush rotation.

These names are added to the list of inactives from Sunday including Ryan Shazier, Ramon Foster, Robert Golden, Cody Wallace, Eli Rogers, and Roosevelt Nix. Adding names to that list of injured players isn’t great, but it didn’t seem to slow Pittsburgh down against Kansas City.