What a week in the AFC North division. Every team that needed to win took a loss. The only team that does not have any playoff hope got the win. All of this action and the AFC North is sitting in the same position as it was last week at this time. Let’s re-cap the action.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns
At this point in the season, both of these teams are playing for dignity or draft spots. The 1-10 Chiefs went in to the Dawg Pound to face the Browns. On their first possession Jamaal Charles busted out an 80 yard run for a touchdown, as Kansas City got up early to challenge the home team.
After that score, though, it was the Kansas City of old. The Browns picked up a field goal in the first, a touchdown in the second, and a dime in each of the game’s last two quarters. The Chiefs never scored again. This is partly because of the Cleveland D, who played high caliber defense throughout the game.
The Browns defense came up big with five sacks, nine quarterback hits, one interception, and limited the Chiefs to just 130 passing yards. On offense, Brandon Weeden threw for 217 yards, while Trent Richardson ran for 42 and two touchdown scores. Travis Benjamin ran a punt return back for 93 yards and a touchdown, and Phil Dawson added nine points off of his foot.
Final Score: Browns 30, Chiefs 7
San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Chargers snapped a couple of streaks against the Steelers on Sunday. San Diego had never won in Pittsburgh and they had been on a four game losing streak coming into the game. No one gave them a chance, so they took one on themselves.
San Diego got their pass rush going early, stifling the returning Ben Roethlisberger and holding him without a touchdown until the middle of the third quarter. The Steelers quarterback was then able to connect with Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown in the fourth quarter for two more scores, but it was too little too late.
Roethlisberger threw for 285 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and lost a fumble in his own end zone. He was also the second leading rusher behind Jonathan Dwyer with 31 yards. Dwyer put up a mere 32 as the Chargers limited the Steelers to just 69 rushing yards.
Final Score: Chargers 34, Steelers 24
Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins
The Ravens and Redskins put on a show for the fans in FedEx Field on Sunday. Baltimore had the opportunity to wrap up the AFC North division with a win and Washington had a chance to keep pace with the New York Giants to win their division and take the last wild card spot in the NFC.
The Redskins came out of the box strong, scoring on a Robert Griffin III touchdown pass to Josh Morgan on their first possession of the game. Not to be outdone, Joe Flacco put up six of his own, hitting Anquan Boldin for a 19 yard touchdown pass to tie the game early in the first quarter.
After an Alfred Morris touchdown run that lifted the Redskins over the Ravens 14-7 at the end of the first quarter, the Ravens took control in the second. Flacco connected with Boldin again and tight-end Dennis Pitta for scores, putting his team up 21-14 headed into the half.
Washington shut Baltimore out in the third quarter, while scoring two field goals of their own. However, this was short-lived, as Ray Rice ran the ball for another Ravens’ score with 4:47 left on the clock. The touchdown put the Ravens up 28-20 as the Redskins took possession of the ball at their own 15.
Before leaving the game with an injury, RGIII marched his team to the Baltimore 16 yard line with only 45 seconds left on the clock. Fellow rookie quarterback, Kirk Cousins, was called up from the bench to lead his team to the tie against the Ravens and that is exactly what he did. With 29 seconds left on the game clock, Cousins hit Pierre Garcon for an 11 yard touchdown pass and then ran the ball in himself for the two point conversion to tie the game.
In overtime, the Redskins eventually got the win on a Kai Forbath field goal. That was enough to keep them alive in the playoffs and muddle up the AFC North.
Final Score: Redskins 31, Ravens 28
Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals
This game felt like a playoff game before the playoffs. Both teams needed the win to keep their playoff hopes alive in their respective conference, but only one team was left standing after a dramatic fourth quarter of play.
The Cowboys were playing with heavy hearts and seemed defeated throughout the first three quarters of the game. The Bengals defense was having their way with Romo and Dallas just couldn’t seem to get anything going.
Then the fourth quarter came around and just as he has done week after week, Tony Romo doubled his team’s points in the final quarter of the game and as time was expiring set up a field goal that slapped the Bengals right in the face.
This loss was a big one for Cincinnati. It came off of a second half of sloppy play and too many missed opportunities. It hurt even more because, with the Steelers loss, the Bengals would have taken sole possession of the last AFC Wild Card spot. Then with the Ravens loss to the Redskins, Cincinnati would have only been one game back from winning their division.
Instead, nothing changes in the AFC North and the Bengals have to pull themselves together for a short week of football on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. They are in the same situation as last week and they must win out to stay alive. Their fate is in their hands. What will they do with it?
Final Score: Cowboys 20, Bengals 19