AFC North: 2011 Week 6 coverage

BALTIMORE -- Thoughts on the Ravens' 29-14 win against the Texans:

What it means: The Ravens again showed why they're one of the best teams in the AFC by putting away the Texans, who were playing without wide receiver Andre Johnson and linebacker Mario Williams. Baltimore remained in first place and improved to 4-1 for the second straight season. Down 14-13 in the third quarter, the Ravens scored on four of their next five possessions to finish off their third consecutive win.

Thumbs up: Ravens defense. If it seemed as though the Texans were in Ravens territory all game, it's because they were. Houston crossed midfield on six of its first seven drives. But the Ravens gave up only two touchdowns (one came on a fumble recovery by an offensive lineman in the end zone) and made a strong fourth-down stand in the first half.

Joe Flacco takes hits, delivers them: Flacco took a beating but came through when the Ravens needed him. He was accurate on the intermediate passes on the opening drive and made the two big plays (completions of 51 and 56 yards) in the second half. Flacco finished with two turnovers (a fumble and interception).

Just for kicks: Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff converted five field goals (from 43, 48, 25, 33 and 40 yards) and recorded six touchbacks. This is the second time that Cundiff has made five field goals in a game for the Ravens.

Cooking with Rice: Ray Rice outplayed reigning NFL rushing champion Arian Foster, running for 101 yards and making five catches for 60 yards. His 27-yard run set up the game-clinching touchdown.

What's next: The Ravens play next Monday night at the Jaguars (1-5), who have lost five games in a row.

Wrap-up: Bengals 27, Colts 17

October, 16, 2011

Thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 27-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts:

What it means: The Bengals match their win total from all of last season and ended a seven-game losing streak to the Colts. It's been an improbable start for Cincinnati, which was predicted to finish last in the AFC North. Six weeks into the regular season, Cincinnati has the same record (4-2) as the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Thumbs up: The NFL's top-ranked defense lived up to its label. Cornerback Nate Clements forced a fumble in Indianapolis territory to set up the Bengals' first touchdown, and Carlos Dunlap returned a Colts fumble 35 yards in the fourth quarter to finish off Cincinnati's third straight win. Overall, the Bengals forced three turnovers.

Thumbs down: The Bengals continually hurt themselves with 11 penalties for 111 yards. The Colts were flagged twice.

Road block: Clements came up big in the fourth quarter when he blocked Adam Vinatieri's 52-yard field goal. It would have tied the game with 5:38 left in the game.

What's next: The Bengals get a well-deserved bye before playing at Seattle.

Wrap-up: Steelers 17, Jaguars 13

October, 16, 2011

Thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 17-13 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars:

What it means: It wasn't as easy as many expected, but the Steelers kept pace in the AFC North with their second straight win. Pittsburgh scored on its first three possessions to jump out to a 17-0 lead before going on cruise control a little too early. The Steelers needed to sweat out a Hail Mary in the final seconds to improve their record at home this season to 3-0.

Thumbs up: Running back Rashard Mendenhall. He squashed any notion that he should get benched by running for a season-high 146 yards. Mendenhall scored the game's first touchdown on an 8-yard run and then set up a field goal with a career-long 68-yard dash.

Coming up big: Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley lived up to his big contract for a second straight week. He had two sacks and made a critical tackle for a loss on a third-and-3 in the fourth quarter, which forced a field goal.

Linemen down: Another game, another offensive lineman injured for the Steelers. Left guard Doug Legursky was helped off the field early in the second quarter and was replaced by Trai Essex, who has become more of a starter than a backup with the amount of snaps he's logged this season.

What's next: The Steelers make the long trip west to play at Arizona.