AFC North: 2011 Week 7 coverage

Rapid Reaction: Jaguars 12, Ravens 7

October, 25, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 12-7 loss at the Jacksonville Jaguars:

What it means: The Ravens lost to a team with a losing record for just the third time in 22 meetings in the John Harbaugh era. It was costly because the Ravens (4-2) fall a half-game behind the Steelers (5-2) in the AFC North standings.

Thumbs up: The Ravens' defense. Baltimore showed why it's the stingiest defense in the NFL. The Ravens came up big when Ed Reed forced a fumble from Maurice Jones-Drew two yards from the end zone. It would have been a winning effort if the Ravens' offense showed any sort of life.

Thumbs down: Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and the Ravens' entire offense. Flacco (21-for-38 for 137 yards) was inaccurate when he had time and couldn't extend plays when the pocket collapsed. Rice had one of the worst games of his career with a fumble, dropped pass and poor block that led to a critical sack in the second half. The Ravens avoided a shutout with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin with 2:02 left in the game. Down by five points with less than two minutes remaining, Flacco's last pass was late over the middle and was intercepted to seal the loss.

Flag day: The Jaguars were helped on their third scoring drive by a questionable helmet-to-helmet penalty on Ravens safety Bernard Pollard. It results in the Jaguars converting a third-and-7 in the third quarter. That led to a 22-yard field goal that pushed the lead to 9-0 and made it a two-score game.

What's next: The Ravens get another shot at a one-win team when they host the Arizona Cardinals on a short week.

Halftime: Jaguars 6, Ravens 0

October, 24, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Thoughts of the Ravens-Jaguars game at halftime:
  • The difference has been two 54-yard field goals by Josh Scobee. The second one was made possible when Paul Kruger ran into the punter, moving the Jaguars into field-goal range.
  • Ravens running back Ray Rice is having one of the worst games of his career. He fumbled for the first time in the regular season since 2009 and he had another bad drop in the first half.
  • The Ravens defense came up big in the first quarter when Ed Reed forced Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew to fumble two yards from the end zone. Baltimore leads the NFL with nine fumble recoveries this season.
  • Reed then nearly made the mistake of the game when he nearly ran into the ball on a punt return after calling for a fair catch. It would have given the Jaguars the ball in Ravens territory with fewer than three minutes left in the first half.
  • Joe Flacco once again can't extend plays when pressured. He finished 6-for-16 for eight yards in the first half. Flacco caught a batted pass, which means he had more receptions (one) than the Ravens had first downs (zero) in the first half.
  • The Ravens had 16 yards of total offense in first half. Team record for fewest yards in the first half is 104 (at Pittsburgh on November 2007).

Wrap-up: Steelers 32, Cardinals 20

October, 23, 2011

Thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 32-20 win at the Arizona Cardinals:

What it means: Pittsburgh delivers its most convincing win on the road this season. Unlike like last week, the Steelers came to play in the second half and finished off the Cardinals. Pittsburgh becomes the first team in the AFC to reach five wins, improving to 5-2.

Thumbs up: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. When the Cardinals cut the lead to 17-14, Roethlisberger responded by completing 6 of 7 passes for 80 yards. He finished off the drive by eluding an unblocked defender and throwing a 4-yard touchdown. Roethlisberger finished 25-of-38 for 340 yards and three touchdowns.

Off to the races: It's getting kind of funny when defenses don't double Mike Wallace on every play. He reminded everyone again about that point when he scored a 95-yard touchdown in the second quarter. It's the longest pass in the Steelers' storied history.

Pick-ing it up: The Steelers, who had the fewest forced turnovers in the NFL, picked off Kevin Kolb in the first quarter. It led to the Steelers' first touchdown, a 12-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller.

What's next: The Steelers face their biggest challenge at home this year when they play the New England Patriots, who are coming off a bye.

Wrap-up: Browns 6, Seahawks 3

October, 23, 2011
Thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 6-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks:

What it means: It certainly was ugly, but the Browns ended their two-game losing streak. Cleveland evened its record at 3-3 to keep from falling out of the AFC North race by Halloween. The Browns' wins might not be impressive, but they are beating the teams they're supposed to beat.

Thumbs up: The Browns' defense. Sure, it was against a backup quarterback (Charlie Whitehurst) and running back (Justin Forsett), but the Browns' defense didn't budge all game despite sloppy play on offense and special teams. Cleveland held the Seahawks to 137 yards of total offense.

Thumbs down: Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. He's struggling with his confidence and accuracy and finished 20-of-35 for 178 yards and one interception. McCoy missed a wide-open Ben Watson on third-and-2 early in the game and underthrew tight end Evan Moore badly to get intercepted at the Seahawks' 10-yard line.

Mixed results: Kicker Phil Dawson. He provided all the scoring with two 50-plus-yard field goals. But you could give a thumbs down to his blocking up front, which allowed two kicks to get blocked (including a 24-yarder in the fourth quarter).

Reversal of fortune: The Seahawks had a punt return for a touchdown negated by a very questionable penalty (block in the back). On the next play, cornerback Sheldon Brown intercepted Whitehurst on a poor throw.

Injury report: Two starters -- wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and tight end Ben Watson -- left the game in the first half with head injuries and didn't return.

What's next: The Browns travel to San Francisco to continue a stretch of three road games in four weeks.