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AFC North has a rare perfect Sunday

The Bengals and Ravens remain tied at the top.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Atlanta Falcons
Kenny Pickett
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC North is starting to live up to its reputation as the toughest kid on the block. All four teams came away victorious Sunday, although some wins were more impressive than others.

The Cincinnati Bengals became the first team to beat a Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs squad three times as they knocked off the AFC West-leading Chiefs, 27-24. The Baltimore Ravens remained locked in a tie for the division lead with the Bengals after squeaking by the Denver Broncos, 10-9.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won their second game in a row by holding off the Atlanta Falcons, 19-16, and the Cleveland Browns handled the Houston Texans, 27-14, in the return of quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Ravens Escape, but at what cost?

Baltimore scored the game’s only touchdown with 28 seconds left to play in holding off the Broncos. Back-up quarterback Tyler Huntley, who was filling in for an injured Lamar Jackson, led the Ravens on a 16-play, 91-yards drive on its final possession to secure the win.

Even with Jackson on the field, the Broncos shut down Baltimore’s offense, holding it to under 300 total yards. The Ravens’ winning drive was aided by two Denver penalties, one for unnecessary roughness and another for pass interference.

Russell Wilson led the Broncos back into Baltimore territory in the closing seconds, but a 63-yard field goal attempt by Brandon McManus came up just short as time expired. The loss was the fourth in a row for Denver.

Huntley finished 27 of 32 for 187 yards and an interception, while Wilson was 17 of 22 for 189 yards.

Heyward brothers go off

Rookie tight end Connor Heyward caught the first touchdown pass of his NFL career and brother Cameron Heyward anchored the Steelers’ defense with a sack and a tipped pass in holding Atlanta to only one touchdown.

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett continued his transformation into a successful NFL quarterback as he completed 16 of 28 passes for 197 yards. Pickett has now gone four straight games without an interception. Pittsburgh is now 4-4 in games Pickett has started.

Matthew Wright kicked four field goals for the Steelers in the win and Najee Harris finished with 86 yards rushing on 17 carries for an average of 5.1 yards per rush.

Browns overcome Watson rust

Watson, in his return from an 11-game suspension, looked like a quarterback who hadn’t played in 700 days, but Cleveland’s special teams and defense picked up the slack.

Donovan Peoples-Jones returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown and the Browns’ defense came up with two touchdowns to make the offensive struggles a moot point.

Watson, who was starting for the first time since January 3, 2021, completed just 12 of 22 passes for 131 yards and an interception in his return but did get some help from his running game as Nick Chubb finished with 17 carries for 80 yards (an average of 4.7 yards per carry), while Kareem Hunt contributed 56 yards on just nine carries for an average of 6.2 yards per carry.

Cleveland fell behind early, 5-0, but the punt return and Denzel Ward’s 4-yard fumble return for a touchdown early in the second quarter put the Browns ahead to stay. Tony Fields added a 16-yard pick six of Houston quarterback Kyle Allen midway through the fourth quarter.