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AFC North Thursday: Division Race Down to Two, Bengals Close to Clinching

December 12th, 2013 at 8:51 AM
By Josh Michael

Week 14 officially brought some clarity to the AFC North as there are now only two teams with a legitimate chance to win the division title. It was a 2-2 week for the AFC North as the two title contenders, the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens emerged victorious.

With three weeks remaining, the Bengals and Ravens are the only two teams with a chance at staking claim as champions, and Cincinnati is extremely close to clinching with a two game lead with three games remaining.

'Josh Gordon' photo (c) 2013, Erik Drost - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Of course we will start with the Ravens, who emerged victorious with a 29-26 last second win on a snowy day in Baltimore over the Minnesota Vikings. In a game that saw both teams combine for just 13 points in the first three quarters, both the Vikings and Ravens gave fans quite an amazing final two minute five seconds that produced five touchdowns between the two teams. Joe Flacco hooked up with Marlon Brown from nine yards out and just four seconds remaining to give the Ravens a much needed victory.

Baltimore's victory kept them as the sixth seed in the AFC Wildcard picture, and saw their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers all but eliminated from the playoff picture. The Steelers played host to the Miami Dolphins in a crucial matchup between two teams battling the Ravens for the final wildcard spot, and the Dolphins came through with a 34-28 victory. Normally good at home, the Steelers actually blew a 28-24 lead in the fourth quarter as the Dolphins scored the final ten points of the game to improve to 7-6, while dropping Pittsburgh to 5-8 and all but eliminated from playoff contention.

Cincinnati used a favorable reversed call in the first half and an all-around offensive effort to take down the AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts 42-28. In the end, the reversed call did not seem to make a difference, but it did grant the Bengals a touchdown on a play where they should not have been. Andy Dalton threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns, while Giovanni Bernard ran for 99 yards, and Benjarvis Green-Ellis had a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Lastly we finish up with the last place Browns who almost pulled off a major upset against the New England Patriots, but ultimately fell 27-26. New England scored the game winning touchdown with just 1:01 remaining in the game when Tom Brady hooked up with Julian Edelman from two yards out. Brady finished the game accruing 418 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and Browns quarterback Jason Campbell performed equally as well with 391 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Wide receiver Josh Gordon continued his recent tear as he reeled in seven grabs for 151 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

Baltimore will have to find a way to gain a game in the next two weeks as that would set up an essential AFC North Championship game in week 17 when the Ravens visit the Bengals in Cincinnati.

AFC North Standings
AFC NorthWLGB
Bengals94-
Ravens762
Steelers584
Browns495

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Tags: AFC North, Baltimore, Baltimore Ravens, Football, Joe Flacco, Josh Gordon, NFL, Tom Brady

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