AFC North: 2011 Week 3 reaction

Wrap-up: Steelers 23, Colts 20

September, 25, 2011
9/25/11
11:35
PM ET
Thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 23-20 win at the Indianapolis Colts:

What it means: It wasn't as easy as many expected, but Pittsburgh did just enough to improve to 2-1. The Steelers are in a three-team tie atop the AFC North with the Ravens and Browns.

Thumbs up: Ben Roethlisberger once again showed why he is one of the best clutch quarterbacks. On the game-winning drive, he completed 3 of 4 passes for 39 yards and scrambled for 11 yards to get the Steelers in range for Shaun Suisham's 38-yard field goal with four seconds left in the game.

Thumbs down: Pittsburgh struggled all game to protect Roethlisberger. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis both forced fumbles in the first half, which led to a field goal and a 47-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

First takeaway: The Steelers defense finally forced a turnover this season, and it was a timely one. James Harrison stripped Colts backup quarterback Curtis Painter, and Troy Polamalu returned it for a 16-yard touchdown to take a short-lived 20-13 lead in the fourth quarter.

Banged-up line: Pittsburgh had three starters on the offensive line leave the game, including the entire right side at one point. Right guard Doug Legursky and right tackle Marcus Gilbert both had shoulder injuries and were replaced by guard Ramon Foster and tackle Trai Essex. When left tackle Jonathan Scott was forced out late in the fourth quarter with a leg injury, Gilbert had to come back into the game.

What's next: The Steelers play at Houston, which wraps up a stretch of three road games in the first four weeks of the season.

Wrap-up: Ravens 37, Rams 7

September, 25, 2011
9/25/11
7:59
PM ET
Thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 37-7 win at the St. Louis Rams:

What it means: Any concern that the Ravens would struggle like they did at Tennessee last Sunday was gone by the end of the first quarter, when Baltimore rolled out to a 21-0 lead. The Ravens avoided consecutive losses for the first time since October 2009 and hold a share of first place in the division with a 2-1 record.

Thumbs up: Wide receiver Torrey Smith. He became the first rookie to score three touchdowns in a quarter. Smith's first three career receptions all went for touchdowns -- 74, 41 and 18 yards -- and all came in the first quarter. Not bad for a second-round pick who had been criticized for not having a catch in the first two games of the season. He stepped into the starting lineup for Lee Evans, who was sidelined with an ankle injury.

Joe Flacco on fire: His roller-coaster season continued with a 389-yard passing performance. It set a career mark and ranked second in franchise history behind Vinny Testaverde's 429 yards in 1996. This led to the Ravens establishing a team record with 550 yards of total offense.

Roughing up Bradford: The Ravens' defense was relentless with Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. Baltimore recorded 11 quarterback hits and five sacks (from five different players).

What's next: The Ravens return home to have a Sunday night showdown with the New York Jets and former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

Wrap-up: Browns 17, Dolphins 16

September, 25, 2011
9/25/11
5:25
PM ET
Thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 17-16 win against the Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns Stadium:

What it means: The Browns are 2-1 for the first time since 2002, and they did it in impressive style with a comeback victory. These are the types of wins that get a fan base buzzing. Now, they are assured of at least a share of the division lead three weeks into the season.

Thumbs up: Colt McCoy. The Browns quarterback didn't have a great game but he sure did have a great finish. He completed nine of 13 passes to account for all 80 yards on the Browns' final drive, including the game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Mohamed Massaquoi with 43 seconds remaining. The interesting part was that McCoy, who has made a name for himself recently with his rollouts, did it while standing in the pocket.

Thumbs down: The Browns' run defense. Cleveland gave up 95 yards to Daniel Thomas and failed to stop the rookie when he scored a touchdown off a short pass. Still, the Browns were able to consistently make Reggie Bush put the ball on the ground.

No Hillis: With Peyton Hillis out with an illness, backup running back Montario Hardesty contributed 67 yards on 14 carries.

What's next: The Browns remain at home where they'll face the Tennessee Titans. This is Cleveland's third home game in the first four weeks of the 2011 season.

Rapid Reaction: 49ers 13, Bengals 8

September, 25, 2011
9/25/11
4:08
PM ET
CINCINNATI -- Thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 13-8 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:


What it means: The Bengals failed to win over a sparse crowd at Paul Brown Stadium, falling flat in the home opener. There was more drama during the week with the Bengals, who dealt with the drug bust at Jerome Simpson's house and the announcement of a three-game suspension for running back Cedric Benson.

Play of the game: For some reason, Cincinnati forgot to cover the only 49ers offensive player that hurt them all game. Tight end Vernon Davis was wide open on the left side of the field for a 20-yard grab that led to the only touchdown of the game -- a 7-yard run by Kendall Hunter with 3:59 left in the fourth quarter.

Thumbs up: Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga forced a fourth-quarter fumble deep in San Francisco territory, but the Bengals could only manage a field goal. It's not coincidence that Maualuga (he left with muscle cramps) wasn't on the field when Hunter ran into the end zone standing up.

Thumbs down: Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton couldn't follow up his prolific outing last Sunday. Take away the opening drive, and Dalton struggled mightily with two fourth-quarter interceptions. His first one led to a San Francisco field goal and the other ended the Bengals' final drive.

What's next: The Bengals stay at home to face the Buffalo Bills.

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