Week seven of the 2012 NFL Season is in the books and the division leading Baltimore Ravens suffered their first loss since week two, but still hold a game and a half lead in the division. All four AFC North teams were in action during week seven and only two will be in action in week eight as Baltimore and Cincinnati have bye weeks.
We will begin with the division leading Baltimore Ravens who suffered one of the worst losses of its franchise history in week seven at the hands of the Houston Texans 43-13. Baltimore took an early 3-0 lead on the road as they marched down the field on their first drive of the game, and rookie kicker Justin Tucker drilled a 51-yarder to put the Ravens on top. The 51-yarder by Tucker broke the franchise record for most 50+ yard field goals in a season with three, and later he would add a fourth when he made a 54-yarder. Tucker, along with the return of the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs were the only bright spots of the game for Baltimore in an otherwise abysmal game. Suggs had four tackles, one sack, and one pass defended on the game, and looked like he hadn't missed a step as it was his first start since suffering an Achilles injury just six months ago. Trailing 3-0, Houston would reel off 29 unanswered points to take a 29-3 lead at halftime. After WR Tandon Doss caught his first career touchdown pass for the Ravens to open up the second half and pull Baltimore within 19 points, Houston stepped on the gas and put the game away driving right back down the field for a touchdown of their own to seal the victory for the top team in the AFC. The loss dropped the Ravens' record to 5-2 on the season.
The Cleveland Browns were coming off of their first victory of the season in week six as they traveled to Indianapolis to take on Andrew Luck and the Colts. Cleveland played a good ball game keeping it close all the way to the end, but Indianapolis prevailed with a 17-13 victory. Browns QB Brandon Weeden had one of his best performances on the season completing 25 of 41 pass attempts for 264 yards, two touchdowns, and most importantly zero interceptions. The problem was that Weeden got no help from his rushing game, as Cleveland only mustered 54 yards on the ground, as rookie running back Trent Richardson attempted to play through a rib injury, but after rushing for just eight yards on eight carries in the first half, he was pulled from the game as the injury was obviously hindering his play. Richardson stated on CBSSports:
"The injury was pretty bad, I guess it limited me a lot. I sat down, so you know it just hurt me not being out there, hurt me inside not being out there."
The loss dropped the Brown to 1-6 on the season, but should be encouraged with how well Weeden played.
An AFC North battle between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals was the showcase of the week on Sunday Night Football, and the national television audience got to experience just what AFC North football is all about. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh played an old fashioned slobber knocker that saw each team have the lead twice and the game tied twice, with the Steelers coming out on top with the 24-17 road victory. Two major storylines came out of this game, first was Steelers running back Jonathon Dwyer rushing for a career high 122 yards, which was a big boost in the arm for Pittsburgh as they ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing coming into the game. Secondly was the play of Steelers CB Ike Taylor as he shut down one of, if not the best wide receiver in the game right now AJ Green holding him to just one catch for eight yards, albeit an eight yard touchdown, it was still one of the more impressive performances of the season in my book. The win brought the Steelers back to .500 at 3-3 and the loss, Cincinatti's third straight, dropped them to 3-4 on the season.
Only two of the AFC North teams will be in action in week eight:
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) vs Washington Redskins (3-4) Sunday 1PM EST
Cleveland Browns (1-6) vs San Diego Chargers (3-3) Sunday 1PM EST
The Ravens will look to heal and get healthy on their bye week while watching Pittsburgh who can pull within one game of the division lead with a win in week eight. Here are how the AFC North standing look as of now:
AFC North Standing after week 7
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