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Baltimore holds on to AFC North lead through Week 12

One AFC North matchup was a lot closer than the other Sunday.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it was Baker Mayfield or Kevin Stefanski, it didn’t much matter. There was more than enough blame to go around.

The Cleveland Browns intercepted Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson four times, sacked him twice and held him to 20 of 32 completions for 165 yards and a passer rating of 25.0.

But the Browns’ offense was even worse as it managed a paltry 40 yards on the ground, and Mayfield hit on just 18 of 37 passes for 247 yards and a score to allow Baltimore to eek out a 16-10 victory to maintain its hold on first place in the AFC North.

“Defense, I thought, played great,” Mayfield said after the game. “We need to play better, make more plays, complementary football.”

Cleveland’s Chase McLaughlin missed a 46-yard field goal in the first quarter, and then the Browns were flagged for too many men on the field as Baltimore went for a fourth-and-2 from its own 33.

The worst part of that was that the Browns had just called a timeout to sort out some substitution issues. Then they were called for too many men on the field anyway.

“That’s coaching,” Stefanski said. “That’s on me.”

In the end, it didn’t matter.

What’s up next?

Cincinnati, which stayed within one game of the Ravens after its 41-10 win over the Steelers, hosts the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday. The Chargers, led by quarterback Justin Herbert, handed the Bengals a 16-13 loss in the debut of quarterback Joe Burrow.

Los Angeles, at 6-5, is a game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the race for the top spot in the AFC West.

Baltimore travels to Pittsburgh, who will be desperately trying to re-gain some respect after being humiliated at Cincinnati. The Steelers defense, which surrendered nearly 200 yards on the ground to the Bengals, will face another challenge in Jackson, who leads all quarterbacks with 707 yards rushing on 123 attempts for an average of 5.7 yards per carry.

Cleveland has its bye week Sunday.