Kevin Gorman: Who runs the North? As division goes pass-heavy, Steelers turn to ‘D’
Just as Odell Beckham Jr. was putting on a show for the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers added a dynamic defensive back by trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick.
OBJ had a breakout game in his return to New York, making a signature one-handed grab to set up a field goal and turning a quick slant into an 89-yard touchdown in the Browns’ 23-3 victory over the Jets on Monday Night Football.
It was just what the AFC North needed.
Going into the game, the undefeated Baltimore Ravens were the only division team with a victory. The Browns, Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals were a combined 0-5.
It was just what the Browns needed, too.
Cleveland has a brutal schedule for the next five games, facing the Los Angeles Rams (2-0), Ravens (2-0), San Francisco 49ers (2-0), Seattle Seahawks (2-0) and New England Patriots (2-0).
With Ben Roethlisberger out for the season with elbow surgery, the Steelers went from having the most accomplished quarterback in the AFC North to one making his first NFL start.
Now, they are going to try to win with defense in a former run-heavy division that has quickly become pass-oriented.
Who runs the North? Right now, it’s the Ravens. But every team in the division faces an undefeated opponent this week, so it’s about to get interesting.
During an incredible day, this was my favorite Lamar throw. 3rd & 11, chance to essentially end the game. Outside shoulder of the receiver. Insane accuracy 🎯.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 16, 2019
Result: Beat Arizona Cardinals, 23-17.
Highlights: Lamar Jackson continues to look like the real deal. The second-year starter completed 24 of 37 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 120 yards on 16 carries to outduel fellow Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray (25 of 40 for 348 passing yards). Tight end Mark Andrews had eight catches for 112 yards and a touchdown, and Justin Tucker kicked field goals of 33, 28 and 51 yards.
Lowlights: If you were looking forward to Terrell Suggs stopping Jackson, you had to be disappointed that the Ravens-turned-Cardinals pass rusher was held without a sack.
Next: The Ravens (2-0) visit Kansas City (2-0) on Sunday.
NFL PASSING LEADERS
1) Lamar Jackson: 7
1T) Patrick Mahomes: 7
1) Lamar: 145.2
3) Mahomes: 136.3
2) Mahomes: 10.7
3) Lamar: 10.5
20+ YARD COMP.
1) Mahomes: 14
2) Lamar: 12
— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) September 16, 2019
Result: New York Jets, 23-3.
Highlights: The Browns showed how dangerous the Baker Mayfield-to-OBJ show can be, as Mayfield passed for 325 yards and they connected six times for 161 yards and a touchdown. And defensive end Myles Garrett showed how dominant he can be, registering five quarterback hits and three sacks.
Lowlights: After complaining that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now with the Jets, coaches “cheap shots and dirty plays,” Garrett’s late hit on Trevor Siemian caused a gruesome injury to the Jets backup quarterback.
Next: The Browns (1-1) play the Los Angeles Rams (2-0) on Sunday.
Jimmy Garoppolo had a perfect passer rating (158.3) when executing play action versus the Bengals.
— TheSFNiners (@TheSFNiners) September 16, 2019
Result: Lost to San Francisco 49ers, 41-17.
Highlights: The Bengals are showing that their passing game isn’t a fluke. Andy Dalton had another 300-yard passing performance by completing 26 of 42 attempts for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Boyd of Clairton and Pitt had 10 catches for 122 receiving yards and John Ross four for 112 and a TD.
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2019
Lowlights: The 41 points are the most allowed by the Bengals in a home opener. Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns and Matt Breida rushed for 121 as the 49ers piled up 572 total yards. The Bengals, already missing left tackle Cordy Glenn (concussion), lost backup Andre Smith (groin) and guard Michael Jordan (knee) to injuries and have no run game.
Next: The Bengals (0-2) visit Buffalo (2-0) on Sunday.
— No Huddle NFL (@NoHuddle_NFL) September 15, 2019
Result: Lost to Seattle Seahawks, 28-26.
Highlights: Mason Rudolph made his NFL debut, starting the second half for the injured Roethlisberger, and completed 12 of 19 passes for 121 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Lowlights: That Roethlisberger was lost to season-ending elbow surgery was the worst news. But linebackers Vince Williams and Anthony Chickillo and safety Sean Davis also left with injuries and depleted a defense had no answer for Russell Wilson. The Steelers had a self-inflicted wound when a Donte Moncrief drop was intercepted and led to one touchdown. The Seahawks scored another touchdown after a penalty on a field goal, a four-point swing that was the difference in the outcome.
Next: Steelers (0-2) play at San Francisco 49ers (2-0) on Sunday.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .