Oct 26, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) reacts as he walks off the field after the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
My how things can change is such a short period of time. The Baltimore Ravens were flying high after two straight blowout wins against the Bucs and the Falcons, a streak that they rode to first place in the AFC North thanks to a week seven Bengals loss. Both teams appeared to be heading in opposite directions, and many were already beginning to engrave that AFC North trophy as the Steelers and Browns appeared to be out of the race.
On one fateful Sunday, everything changed. The Bengals pulled off the win in Cincinnati as the Raven’s once mighty offense and red zone defense stumbled. Even without A.J. Green and with two horrible mistakes by Andy Dalton, the Ravens just couldn’t capitalize and saw the game end on a questionable offensive pass interference call.
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Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger proceeded to set a Steelers franchise record by dropping 522 yards passing and six touchdowns on the Indianapolis Colts. After starting the season looking like they were in rebuilding mode, the Steelers are suddenly in the race following two consecutive wins over good teams.
To rub a little more salt in the wound, the Cleveland Browns rebounded from a loss to the lowly Jaguars by taking care of the Oakland Raiders this week. They stand at 4-3 (with their bye having passed), while the Steelers and Ravens are now both 5-3. The Bengals (who have also had their bye) retook first place by improving to 4-2-1.
The loss puts the Ravens in a very tough spot as they prepare to head back on the road in week nine. The Ravens can ill afford to lose to the Steelers and drop to third, or even fourth place. Especially considering that the Browns host the 1-6 Buccaneers this week, and the Bengals host the Jaguars at home. We could see the Ravens go from first to worst in record time.