Friday, November 16, 2012
Final Word: AFC North
By Jamison Hensley
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:
Shaking off the rust: Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich, who is replacing Ben Roethlisberger, will make his first start since September 2009. It's been even longer since he celebrated a win as a starting quarterback. Leftwich has lost his past six starts dating to Week 6 of 2006. In that span, the only quarterbacks to start more games without a win are Brodie Croyle, Curtis Painter and John Beck, none of whom is on an NFL roster, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The only active quarterback with a longer active losing streak than Leftwich is Chad Henne, who has lost his past seven starts.
Ray Rice put up big numbers against the Steelers last season.
Strange results on the road: In what is an unusual trend for rookie quarterbacks, the Browns' Brandon Weeden has played better on the road than at home. When playing away from Cleveland Browns Stadium, Weeden has averaged 299.2 yards passing with six touchdowns and three interceptions. His rating on the road (86.4) is far better than the one at home (50.1). But this hasn't led to success for the Browns, who are 0-4 this season on the road. Cleveland hasn't won an away game since Week 2 of last season. The stretch of 11 straight road losses ties a franchise record (1974-76) and is the longest active streak in the NFL.
Success against Steelers: When the Ravens swept the Steelers last season, Ravens running back Ray Rice totaled 235 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns, becoming the first player in 11 years to reach those marks against the Steelers in the same season. How rare is this feat? Since 1960, only four running backs have produced at least 235 yards and three touchdowns against Pittsburgh: Rice, Fred Taylor, James Brooks and Jim Brown. Rice leads the NFL in net yards since 2009 with 6,826, which is 235 yards more than anyone else in the league.
Eight is not enough: Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has caught a touchdown in eight straight games, tied for the second-longest streak in franchise history. The team record for most consecutive games with a receiving touchdown is 10, set by Carl Pickens (1994-95). If Green can reach the end zone Sunday at Kansas City, he will join some elite company. The previous player with a receiving touchdown in nine straight games in the same season was Jerry Rice, who caught one in 12 straight games in 1987, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Green leads the NFL with nine receiving touchdowns -- three more than the entire Chiefs team.
Slowing down Smith: The last time the Ravens played the Steelers, they beat Pittsburgh with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with eight seconds remaining. But this season, Joe Flacco has overthrown Smith on 27 percent of his total targets, with only the Blaine Gabbert-to-Justin Blackmon combination yielding a higher overthrow percentage, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Steelers have the top-ranked pass defense, and limiting the big plays is a big reason why. Pittsburgh has given up 17 passes of more than 20 yards, fewest in the league.