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State of AFC North: Kizer keeps it close with Steelers; Flacco cries about playcalling

DeShone Kizer shocked the NFL. Even though the Browns didn’t beat the Steelers, it was far closer than anyone would’ve bet. Joe Flacco took the opportunity after a win to complain he didn’t throw the ball enough.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After a Week 1, I’m sure we’d all like to forget, we can at least take a look at the rest of the AFC North and see who started off the division race on the right foot.

Why is Joe Flacco complaining after the win on Sunday? Pittsburgh wasn’t as dominant as they should’ve been, but they still got the win. DeShone Kizer flashed plenty of potential, but he also made plenty of rookie mistakes.

Baltimore Ravens defeated Cincinnati Bengals: 20-0

Is this the start of something special for Baltimore’s defense?

It seemed like all offseason Baltimore’s defense received plenty of praise. After adding Tony Jefferson from the Cardinals, Brandon Carr from the Cowboys and drafting Marlon Humphrey in the draft, it seemed Baltimore was building something special.

On Sunday the Bengals saw just how special that defense was first hand. Baltimore was constantly in the Bengals backfield thanks to Terrell Suggs consistently beating Cedric Ogbuehi. Suggs even caused a fumble in the Ravens red zone by stripping Andy Dalton as he was winding up.

The Ravens coverage down field was also on lockdown. The Ravens just seemed to know the Bengals routes as two of Dalton’s four interceptions the defenders ran right to where the routes were intended before the receiver even ran the break or the ball was released. It was clear the Ravens did their homework. The defense also managed to tip two passes that ended up being intercepted.

This was a dominant performance, and if the Ravens keep this up, it could be trouble for the rest of the AFC North.

Flacco cries about not throwing more

According to ESPN Flacco wasn’t happy with the play calling on Sunday.

"It wasn't that fun to play on offense [Sunday] -- just to be honest," Flacco told ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. "I was 9-for-17, and I threw for a hundred and a couple [121] yards . I mean, it's not that fun. I'd rather throw for 350 and win 42-0, not 20-0. But it's fun to win, and that's the most important thing."

The Ravens ran the ball 32 times for 157 yards and a touchdown. Flacco threw the ball 17 times completing nine of them for 121 yards and a touchdown. His big play came on a slant where Jeremy Maclin did all the work. It was a boring day for Flacco.

Dear Flacco, cry me a river. You’re 32 with a bad back, and you even asked last season for your team to run the ball more. Saying you’d win by 42 instead of 20 is laughable. You had all of last season to prove you can’t be that guy who throws the ball 30 times a game to lead your team to a win. Some free advice. Just celebrate the win and be done with it.

Pittsburgh Steelers defeated Cleveland Browns: 21-18

Burfict helps showcase dirty Steelers plays

It is pretty obvious to Bengals’ fans how the Steelers have somehow managed to avoid the dirty label despite Pittsburgh’s and Cincinnati’s recent history. The Bengals have always received that label despite both sides partaking in these questionable activities.

One reason may be the attention Vontaze Burfict has brought upon himself. It makes it easier to blame the Bengals. Burfict is currently serving a three-game suspension for a hit in a preseason game, but that didn’t stop him from using his free time and platform to retweet some of the dirtier plays from the Steelers game.

The first being Ryan Shazier’s hit on a sliding Kizer. If Kizer doesn’t go to further protect himself at the last second, Shazier probably makes helmet to helmet contact.

Not to mention Shazier was even leading with his helmet. Fans will say “what is he supposed to do?” Well for starters he doesn’t let up at all or even try avoiding the quarterback. Any other questions, especially from Steeler fans, just imagine that was Burfict hitting Ben Roethlisberger. That should be your reaction to this as well.

Steelers survive in Cleveland

It was pretty much a consensus that the Steelers were going to go into Cleveland and destroy the Browns, but that isn’t how it played out at all. The Steelers super powered offense looked very tame for most of the game. Le’Veon Bell struggled to get going running the ball, and the Steelers offense kept shooting itself in the foot with penalties.

It took most of the first half for the Steelers to finally start moving the Ball when Antonio Brown broke a tackle and made a very impressive run down the field, but if it was for the Steelers blocking the Browns’ first punt and recovering it for a touchdown, the game could’ve been very different.

The Browns seemed to keep pace with the Steelers as Kizer and Isaiah Crowell led the Browns offense. T.J. Watt took advantage of a few rookie mistake from Kizer though finishing the game with two sacks and an interception.

What really decided the game though was whenever it seemed like the Browns were on the verge of taking a huge momentum leap, Brown would make a big play or get a first down.

While the Browns may be more talented last year, the Steelers are still the team that make the winning plays, and the Browns are the ones who make the key mistakes.

Kizer has impressive debut

All considering I’d say I was impressed by Kizer. At times he seemed to really be picking apart the Steelers defense. Kizer finished 20 of 30 for 222 passing yards with two total touchdowns and an interception.

The interception was a poor throw. He failed to get enough air on the ball to get it over Watt. He also had some poor throws early on. On one in particular, he had Duke Johnson Jr. going down the sideline, and he tried to bullet to him instead of airing it out allowing Johnson to run under it.

Kizer also struggled with pocket awareness. He was sacked seven times on Sunday, and most of them were on him holding the ball too long or failing to throw it away. He also struggled with staring down his receivers.

However, despite all that the game was close enough to where the Browns were way closer than the Steelers were comfortable with. That in itself is impressive for a rookie making his NFL debut.