Final Word: AFC North

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
1:30
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:

Big Ben looking to bounce back: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looked rusty at times last week in his first game back since injuring his rib and shoulder. His two turnovers led to touchdowns as the Chargers pulled the upset. But Roethlisberger has had one of the most consistent seasons of his career. He has thrown a touchdown pass in 10 straight games, tied with 2007 for the longest single-season streak of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He has 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions this season, and that plus-15 differential trails only Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Josh Freeman. The Cowboys have made only 6 interceptions this season, the fewest in the NFL.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarBen Roethlisberger struggled at times in his return game against the Chargers.
No home losing streaks for Harbaugh: The Ravens had their 15-game home winning streak ended by the Steelers this month. But Baltimore has never lost back-to-back home games in the five-year John Harbaugh era. The last time it happened was December 2007. This streak will be tested by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who has won five straight in Baltimore. Since the Ravens' loss to Manning in Week 11 of 2009, the Ravens have won 22 straight home games against teams other than the Steelers.

Surpassing Jim Brown: It's impressive that running back Trent Richardson could pass Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown on a couple of Cleveland Browns rookie records. It's remarkable that he has done this while not being healthy for most of the season. Richardson missed the entire preseason after having his left knee scoped. He then injured his rib, an injury that likely won't heal until the offseason. Still, his nine rushing touchdowns are tied with Brown for the most by a Browns rookie. Richardson needs 74 yards to pass Brown for the most rushing yards by a Browns rookie.

Dominating the NFC: The Steelers have lost three of their past four games following a four-game win streak. But all of those losses have come against the AFC. When it comes to playing the NFC, few teams in the AFC are better than the Steelers. Pittsburgh has won four straight against NFC opponents and 12 of its past 14 against that conference. The Steelers' interconference record since 2009 (12-3) is second best in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Steelers' last game in Dallas was in 2004, when they overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and sealed the win with a Jerome Bettis touchdown in the final minute. It was Roethlisberger's fourth career start, and he finished 21-of-25 for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Grounded in December: Running back Ray Rice gained a season-high 121 yards last Sunday, and that shouldn't come as a surprise. During the Harbaugh era, Baltimore has rushed for 159.1 yards per game in December and January. Only the Panthers (175.3) have averaged more. That trend could continue against the Broncos. In his two games against Denver, Rice has 217 yards rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Rice needs 83 yards from scrimmage to reach 1,500 for the fourth consecutive season.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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