The Pittsburgh Steelers will remain the leaders of the AFC North in Week 9 thanks to their 33-18 Sunday afternoon home win over the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw two second quarter touchdown passes to wide receiver Antonio Brown in the win while second-year running back James Conner added two more touchdowns on the ground on his way to registering 212 total yards from scrimmage.
The Steelers defense even chipped in quite a bit in Sunday’s win as outside linebacker Bud Dupree forced a safety while cornerback Joe Haden intercepted a pass from Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield that the Steelers offensive turned into seven points. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt and defensive end Stephon Tuitt also registered sacks of Mayfield on Sunday.
The Steelers win now gives them a record of 4-2-1 entering their Week 9 road game against the 4-4 Baltimore Ravens, who lost 36-21 Sunday afternoon on the road to the Carolina Panthers.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 21 of his 29 total pass attempts for 219 yards and two touchdowns in his team’s Sunday win over the Ravens. Newton also did damage against the Ravens with his legs as he rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown on 10 total runs. Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey added 45 yards rushing and a score and the Carolina offense posted 154 net yards on the ground.
For the losing Ravens, quarterback Joe Flacco completed just 22 of his 39 total pass attempts against the Panthers defense for 192 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Panthers turned both of those interceptions into field goals. The Ravens rushed for 101 net yards on Sunday and running back Alex Collins had 49 of them and one touchdown on his 11 total carries. Collins, however, fumbled away the football once on Sunday and the Panthers offense converted that turnover into a touchdown.
The Ravens defense failed to register a sack of Newton on Sunday while Flacco was sacked twice by the Panthers defense.
The Ravens now enter their Week 9 matchup against the Steelers having lost three of their last four games.
As for the other team in the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals, they narrowly escaped with 37-34 home win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Bengals kicker Randy Bullock kicked a 44-yard field goal as the fourth quarter clock expired to give his team their fifth win of the season. Bullock’s game-winning kick culminated an 8 play, 50-yard drive by the Bengals offense that followed the Buccaneers tying the game 34 with 1:05 left in regulation. The Buccaneers managed to overcome a 21-point Bengals lead in the game.
The Bengals pounced out to a 21-0 lead over the Buccaneers in the first quarter thanks to two touchdown runs by running back Joe Mixon and a scoring reception by wide receiver Tyler Boyd from quarterback Andy Dalton, who finished the game having completed 21 of his 34 total pass attempts for 280 yards and two touchdowns.
Mixon rushed for 123 yards in Sunday’s win over the Buccaneers while Boyd led his team in receiving with 9 catches for 138 yards. Fellow Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green finished with 5 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown catch from Dalton.
The Buccaneers comeback was led by backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who relived ineffective starting quarterback Jameis Winston near the end of the third quarter and after he had an interception returned for a touchdown by Bengals safety Jessie Bates. Fitzpatrick engineered three scoring drives after entering the game and finished the contest having completed 11 of his 15 total pass attempts for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Prior to his benching, Winston had completed just 15 of his 35 total pass attempts for 276 yards with a touchdown and 4 interceptions. The Bengals defense registered six sacks on Sunday to go along with their four interceptions. Cincinnati defensive end Carlos Dunlap had two of those six sacks while linebacker Jordan Evans led his team in total tackles with 11.
The 5-3 Bengals will be on their bye in Week 9 while the Browns will host the 7-1 Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday.
The Steelers received a lot of little help around the AFC in Week 8 as far as potential final Wild Card standings as the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Denver Broncos all lost their games.