Wake-up call: Wild, crazy day in AFC North

September, 24, 2012
9/24/12
8:00
AM ET
BALTIMORE -- The Ravens rallied around a grieving Torrey Smith to beat the Patriots and take first place in the AFC North. The defending division champions improved to 2-1, which is the same record as the Bengals. But the Ravens beat the Bengals in the season opener, so they hold the tiebreaker. Having first place decided by the slimmest of margins is fitting because almost every game in the division was a close call Sunday.

In fact, it was one of the wildest days in the 11-year existence of the AFC North. The craziness started with a 73-yard touchdown pass from one wide receiver (Mohamed Sanu) to another (A.J. Green) in the Bengals' 38-31 win at Washington. It continued with Sebastian Janikowski's winning 43-yard field goal as time expired in the Steelers' 34-31 loss at Oakland. It ended with rookie kicker Justin Tucker barely hitting a 27-yard field goal on the last play of the game in the Ravens' 31-30 victory over the Patriots.

Now, try to catch your breath and stop biting your nails because it's time for your wake-up call ...

BENGALS: The Bengals revved up their pass rush by sacking Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III six times after totaling five in their first two games. Defensive end Michael Johnson became the first Cincinnati player to deliver three sacks in a game since Antwan Odom in 2009. It didn't hurt that Johnson was playing against a backup left tackle. “(Griffin is) very elusive," Johnson told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "And you know what helps, that I’m coming on his back side so he can’t see me."

BROWNS: It's just more self-inflicted misery for the Browns, according to The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto. "(Head coach Pat) Shurmur talked about the need to start and finish games strong," Pluto wrote. "The Browns did neither. Their first three possessions were 3-and-out, nine plays, no first downs. They ended the game with two interceptions."

RAVENS: The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston believes there are some serious doubts about the Ravens' defense after giving up 30 points to the Patriots. "As in most of the season so far, the Ravens couldn't get much of a pass rush on (Tom) Brady," Preston wrote. "Without that, Brady picked on cornerbacks Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith. And then he picked on Williams and Smith some more. The Ravens made the Patriots look like the pass-happy San Diego Chargers of the 1980s."

STEELERS: The Post-Gazette's Ron Cook said the defense allowing late winning drives is becoming troubling. "Clearly, this isn't your father's Steelers defense or your grandfather's defense," Cook wrote. "It was difficult to watch this meltdown. (Dick) LeBeau's bunch wasted a 384-yard, four-touchdown-pass day by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger."

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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