Kevin Gorman’s Who runs the North?: By blasting Patriots, Ravens running the AFC
At the halfway point of the NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens have made an emphatic statement.
They don’t just run the AFC North.
They run the whole conference.
The Ravens ran New England off the field Sunday night, handing the defending Super Bowl champions their first loss of the season with a double-digit defeat that changed the conversation on the AFC power structure.
The Patriots (8-1) still have the best record, but the Ravens (6-2) showed their superiority. The Ravens didn’t do the Pittsburgh Steelers any favors, beating Seattle and New England in their past two games to keep a two-game division cushion with the winless Cincinnati Bengals next on their schedule.
But the Steelers are inching closer to wild-card contention, and the Cleveland Browns are in meltdown mode. Not only did the Browns lose their fourth consecutive game but they cut safety Jermaine Whitehead on Monday after his Twitter threats.
Even Baker Mayfield is going incognito.
The Cleveland Browns has aged Baker Mayfield in dog years pic.twitter.com/3ZpwMPMJhD
— JKuhn (@h8rproof82) November 4, 2019
That’s not to suggest the second half is set. Now might be a good time to remind you that the Steelers started 7-2-1 last season, only to lose four of their final six and miss the playoffs.
This is the North, so it’s far from over (except for the Bengals).
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 4, 2019
Ravens safety Earl Thomas on Lamar Jackson: “Lamar played MVP football. He’s separating himself.”
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) November 4, 2019
Result: Beat the New England Patriots, 37-20.
Highlights: Lamar Jackson might be the first-half MVP, but Mark Ingram is a big reason the Ravens boast the league’s best rushing attack. Ingram rushed for 115 yards and Jackson added 61 yards and two touchdowns as the Ravens ran for 210 yards against the NFL’s top defense.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) November 4, 2019
Lowlights: Cyrus Jones muffed a punt that was recovered by former Raven Justin Bethel at the 20, leading to a Tom Brady-to-Mohamed Sanu touchdown pass. The Ravens reluctantly released Bethel to protect a free-agent compensation draft pick, knowing they were losing a special-teams star.
Next: The Ravens (6-2) visit the Bengals (0-8) on Sunday.
The Bengals are the last NFL team still looking for their first win in 2019. pic.twitter.com/DxsAnqZy3q
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 4, 2019
Highlights: The Bengals moved into position for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, without even having to lose. They can thank the New York Jets, as the Miami Dolphins claimed their first victory to leave Cincinnati as the lone winless team left.
— Cincinnati 💔 (@CincyProblems) November 3, 2019
Lowlights: On the other hand, Cincinnati lost even when it didn’t play. Former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer publicly ripped the organization on a podcast, claiming that ownership puts finances first and winning second.
Next: The Bengals (0-8) play host to the Ravens (6-2) on Sunday.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) November 3, 2019
Result: Lost to the Denver Broncos, 24-19.
Highlights: Baker Mayfield threw more touchdowns (one) than interceptions (none), even though the Browns went 1 for 5 in the red zone and settled for four field goals inside the 40.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) November 4, 2019
Lowlights: Things went from bad to worse when Jermaine Whitehead threatened fans and media members on Twitter, causing the Browns to condemn his comments at “totally unacceptable and highly inappropriate.” They waived Whitehead on Monday.
Next: The Browns (2-6) play host to the Buffalo Bills (6-2) on Sunday.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK: 96-YARD PICK 6!
— NFL (@NFL) November 3, 2019
Result: Beat the Indianapolis Colts, 26-24.
Highlights: The Steelers scored 17 points off turnovers, including safety Minkah Fitzpatrick’s 96-yard interception return for a touchdown. Kicker Chris Boswell converted four field-goal attempts, including the game winner.
Minkah Fitzpatrick reached 21.48 MPH on his 96-yard interception return TD, covering 113.0 yards of distance.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 3, 2019
Lowlights: The Colts played without leading receiver T.Y. Hilton and lost starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the first half, yet were only an Adam Vinatieri missed 43-yard field goal from taking the lead in the final two minutes.
Next: The Steelers (4-4) play host to the Los Angeles Rams (5-3) on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .