After Week 1’s action we have a better idea of how the rest of the AFC North will look in 2016. The Browns’ season seems to already be over with the injury to Robert Griffin III. The Ravens got an ugly win over their former backup quarterback. The Steelers dismantled Washington after an early deficit, but they may be without an important part of their defense heading into Week 2.
Baltimore Ravens (1-0) beat Buffalo Bills (0-1) 13-7
The simplest way to describe this game is there weren’t many highlights. The two most exciting plays were a long touchdown pass to Mike Wallace and a slick escape from Tyrod Taylor. If you missed any of this game outside of that you didn’t miss anything.
The Ravens effectively contained Taylor forcing him to make plays from inside the pocket. Taylor struggled to consistently make plays, and ultimately that is the reason the Bills couldn’t overcome the Ravens in Week 1.
A missed field goal for the Bills in the middle of the third quarter also loomed large. The kick would’ve tied the game, and it possibly would’ve changed the way the Ravens approached their play calling.
It shouldn’t be that surprising that the Ravens came out of the gates slow. Joe Flacco saw his first action after suffering an ACL injury last season, but he did just enough to get the win.
The running game never got going. The Ravens barely got more than 70 yards on 22 carries. It must have been frustrating, but next week the Ravens can easily get the running game going against the Browns who just got ran over by the Eagles.
Flacco spread his 23 completions, hitting 10 different receivers. Steve Smith Sr. led all receivers with five catches, but Wallace easily held the lead with yards after his 66 yard long touchdown catch. Dennis Pitta also reeled in three catches including a 27 yard catch in his first time playing after multiple hip injuries.
The Ravens will need to get on track quickly on offense. The schedule isn’t filled with games against teams like the Bills and Browns.
Cleveland Browns (0-1) lost to the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) 29-10
Well, that was quick. A common theme throughout the offseason and preseason was the beating Griffin would have to survive this season. Many doubted he could, and they were right. Although Griffin’s injury came after he tried to take on a defender with his non-throwing shoulder. Quarterbacks need to be more aware of their value week in and week out. Being healthy is worth more than an extra yard.
The Browns placed Griffin on Injured Reserve on Monday with a fractured coracoid bone in his left shoulder, and the earliest the quarterback can return is Week 10. However, it has been reported that he may not return again this season.
It will be very tough for RGIII to make it back on the #Browns roster this year. Evaluation after 3-4 weeks, then he may need surgery.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 12, 2016
While it is an unfortunate scenario for Cleveland, the team should have expected to be bad, and they embraced it. If they want that top five selection along with whatever they get from the Eagles first round pick, it seems like they’re on track to do so.
Josh McCown has been announced as the next man up, but no one should be surprised if Cody Kessler gets a few starts.
Cleveland fans looking for a bright spot might want to re-watch the last minute from Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Remember how excited you were when the drought was ended? Hold onto that. This season is going to be ugly. Rookies will learn from the hard knocks of the regular season. That isn’t a bad thing for the long term, but it won’t lead for the team consistently contending this season.
Corey Coleman had a nice catch following the halftime break, but his debut was disappointing following a few drops on good passes. Carl Nassib, the rookie pass rusher, had three solo tackles and a sack. Nassib showed us a flash of hope for that defense that looked dreadful in the second half.
Going forward different young players will flash potential, but the Browns won’t be competitive until these players grow more consistent.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) beat Washington (0-1) 38-16
Monday night’s game left us with one question. Is Pittsburgh as good as they looked, or is Washington not as good as last year? Washington is coming off a playoff season, but you wouldn’t have known that Monday. After taking a six point lead Washington proceeded to let Pittsburgh do as they pleased. Ben Roethlisberger finished the game with 300 yards passing and three touchdowns, and Antonio Brown was a beneficiary of two of them.
The Steelers also weren’t shy about going for it on fourth down. Twice the Steelers converted on fourth and short, once including a deep touchdown pass to Brown.
DeAngelo Williams filled the Le’Veon Bell role perfectly with 143 rushing yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns on the night.
Pittsburgh’s defense also shut down Washington. They picked off Kirk Cousins twice, but interestingly enough they never sacked the quarterback. Instead the Steelers often opted to show blitz and then bail out into coverage only rushing four or five.
The next few weeks will show us if the Steelers are actually this juggernaut they appeared to be Monday.
Shazier left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. Shazier said following the game it was precautionary. The Steelers did have a comfortable lead at the time. However, we just saw Griffin say his shoulder injury wasn’t so serious, but now he is on Injured Reserve.
Shazier showed why he is the leader of the Steelers defense now. He was all over the field and even had a huge interception and return, that was called back after a penalty on the return. We will know more after the tests get run on his knee, but as of now it appears the Steelers can breathe a sigh of relief.