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AFC North madness continues

Ravens and Browns both lose

NFL: New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns
Bailey Zappe
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Here we go again.

For the second time in three weeks, we have a tie at the top of the AFC North Division. This time, it’s the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals with identical records of 3-3. The Ravens are coming off another collapse, this time resulting in a 24-20 loss to the New York football Giants, while the Bengals posted an exciting 30-26 come-from-behind victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Cleveland just keeps going in the wrong direction after getting shellacked, 38-15, by the New England Patriots, while Pittsburgh finally got back in the win column by holding off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 20-18.

Ravens stumble again

Baltimore blew a game late for the third time this season as the Giants rallied from a 10-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to post the victory.

New York’s Julian Love intercepted Lamar Jackson and returned it 27 yards to set up Saquon Barkley’s 1-yard touchdown run with 1:43 left to seal the win.

The stat sheet told a different story. Baltimore outgained New York 406 yards to 238, and held a 256 yards to 90 advantage in the opening half. Yet the Ravens were ahead by only a 10-7 count after the first two quarters, and could not hold on.

Jackson finished with 210 yards passing, and accounted for 77 of Baltimore’s 211 yards on the ground. Mark Andrews had seven catches for 106 yards and a score and Kenyan Drake rushed for 119 yards on 10 carries. Justin Tucker kicked two short field goals.

Cleveland crashes and burns

Bailey Zappe, a fourth-round draft pick of the Patriots who played at Conference USA school Western Kentucky, completed 24 of 34 passes for 309 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in leading New England to its third win of the season. The Browns fell to 2-4, but are still only one game out of the division lead.

The win marked the 324th in the long and distinguished career of coach Bill Belichick, and tied him with George Halas for second on the NFL’s career list.

Cleveland’s Jacoby Brissett, meanwhile, had another awful day as he tries to hold the fort down for the suspended Deshaun Watson. Brissett went 21 of 45 for 266 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, and was sacked four times.

Nick Chubb entered the game as the NFL’s leading rusher, but the Browns’ mainstay did not have a double-digit gain until late in the third quarter. He finished with 12 carries for 56 yards, both season lows.

It was the most points allowed by Cleveland this year and its most lopsided loss of the season.

“Every way you can get beat — offense, defense, special teams, coaching — we got beat,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “They beat us, and we also beat ourselves a few too many times.”

Trubisky rallies Steelers

Mitch Trubisky came off the bench to lead Pittsburgh on an eight-play, 71-yard scoring drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Chase Claypool with 9:55 left, and the Steelers held on to beat Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

Trubisky took over for rookie starter Kenny Pickett, who left the game with an apparent concussion lat in the third quarter, and went 9 for 12 for 144 yards and a score, while posting a quarterback rating of 142.4.

“Mitch was put in a tough spot, and he never wavered,” Claypool said. “Love that guy.”

Claypool finished with seven catches for 96 yards and the score, but the Steelers’ ground game continued to struggle. Najee Harris was held to just 42 yards on 14 carries as Pittsburgh managed just 77 yards on the ground and an average of only 2.7 yards per carry.