Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals All Lose

AFC North Stumbles

12/9/12 in NFL   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

December 9, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Takeo Spikes (top) tackles Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsWith the last quarter of the NFL Season upon us, the only AFC division that looks to offer a fair amount of drama the rest of the way is the North.  The East and West only have one team above .500, while the South is controlled by the Texans, with the Colts looking likely to claim a wildcard spot.
Going into this weekend, the Bengals had won 4 in a row, the Steelers were ready to bring back Roethlisberger at the helm, and the Ravens were 2 wins away from claiming at least a share of the division.  Yet nobody in the pack could come away with a much-needed victory.
The Bengals started the day off strong, and led the Cowboys on the scoreboard from midway in the first quarter all the way until Dan Bailey’s game-winning field goal.  While the Bengals offense did a decent job moving the ball all day, the Cowboys came up with some key stops and it prevented the Bengals from ever pulling away.  Dalton was sacked 5 times and threw a pick on top of that.  The Bengals now sit at 7-6.
The Steelers, on the other hand, saw themselves trailing just about the entire game.  Despite throwing for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns, it was a rough return for Roethlisberger.  When the Steelers were trying to keep things interesting in the middle of the second, a Roethlisberger fumble was gathered in the endzone by the Chargers to make the game 27-3, a hole the Steelers couldn’t climb out of despite a late-game push.  Pittsburgh drops to 7-6.
Golden opportunity for the Ravens then, right?  The only team not favored going into the day, Baltimore had a really intriguing matchup against Robert Griffin and the streaking Redskins.  A strong second quarter gave the Ravens a 21-14 lead going into the half, and for most of the next 30 minutes, the Ravens did what they needed to keep Washington under control.  Then a last minute drive that was capped by backup quarterback Kirk Cousins forced the game into overtime, where a 64-yard punt return by Richard Crawford and a 34-yard field goal by Kai Forbath put things away.  Ravens fall to 9-4.
Looking ahead, the Ravens need to win two of their final three games to clinch an outright division title, but a victory may not come easy.  After playing host to the Broncos and Giants, the Ravens travel to Cincinnati in week 17 to play the Bengals in a game that could have huge playoff implications.
Next week, the Steelers have the Cowboys and the Bengals have the Eagles.  And right after that, they go head to head in a game that will most likely determine playoff eligibility.  At this rate, 9-7 may suffice for the second wild card spot, but the Colts are 9-4 with a matchup against the Chiefs still to come, so it’ll probably come down to someone in the AFC North.  Make sure to stay tuned.
Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview

12/9/12   |   Scott   |   53955 respect

Ravens still control their own destiny.