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Bengals, Ravens taking control in AFC North

Cleveland and Pittsburgh fall further behind.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Ravens linebacker Malik Harrison blocks the tying field goal effort
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The cream is finally beginning to rise to the top of the AFC North Division. Cincinnati and Baltimore continue to remain deadlocked with identical 4-3 records after the Bengals crushed Atlanta, 35-17, and the Ravens held off Cleveland, 23-20. The Browns and Steelers, who fell to Miami by a 16-10 count, both slipped to 2-5.

Ravens hang on vs. Browns

Baltimore has blown double-digit leads in the second half of each of its three losses this season, and very nearly did so again Sunday before holding off the Browns.

Justin Tucker’s 55-yard field goal gave the Ravens a 23-13 lead early in the fourth quarter before a 2-yard touchdown run by Cleveland’s Kareem Hunt cut the margin to 23-20 with nine minutes left.

The Browns recovered a Justice Hill fumble at their own 16-yard-line with 3:12 remaining and drove to the Baltimore 34 before an apparent touchdown pass to Amari Cooper was wiped out by an offensive pass interference call.

A false start penalty forced rookie kicker Cade York to try a 60-yard field goal to tie, but the attempt was blocked by Malik Harrison with just under two minutes to go.

Nick Chubb finished with 91 yards rushing on 16 carries for the Browns and quarterback Jacoby Brissett was 22 of 27 for 258 yards. But he was sacked five times and fumbled once.

Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson, meanwhile, was held to only 120 yards passing and was sacked three times.

Pittsburgh stumbles again

Miami intercepted Steelers’ rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett two times in the closing minutes to seal the victory. Pickett drove Pittsburgh to the Miami 25 with 25 seconds left, but Dolphins’ cornerback a Noah Igbinoghene interception at the goal line ended the Steelers’ hopes.

Tua Tagovailoa, in his first start back from a concussion, completed 21 of 35 passes for 261 yards and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Raheem Mostert on Miami’s opening drive.

Pickett, who only cleared the NFL’s concussion protocols himself on Friday, went 32 for 44 for 257 yards and a 7-yard scoring strike to fellow rookie George Pickens. But his three interceptions proved too big a hole for Pittsburgh to climb out of.

The Steelers’ ground game continued to struggle as Najee Harris only accounted for 65 yards on 17 carries and Pittsburgh failed to hit 100 yards rushing for the third week in a row.