The Ravens found themselves trailing at home by 9 with 4:01 to play against the New England Patriots last night, and were starring at a 1-2 start to a season that had hoped to be another AFC North crown and deep playoff run. Then, Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, playing with a heavy heart after losing his brother earlier in the day to a fatal motorcycle crash, caught his second TD pass of the game to pull the Ravens to within 2, and on the ensuing Ravens drive, rookie kicker Justin Tucker booted in the game-winning field goal to give the Ravens a 31-31 victory. In the fourth quarter, Joe Flacco completed 12/15 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown, and finished the night 21/29 with 299 YDS and 2 TDs, both of which he threw to Smith, who finished the night with 6 catches for 127 yards.
Former Bengals QB Carson Palmer led the Oakland Raiders to 34-31 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, as he completed 24/34 passes for 209 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in Sunday’s win. Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler had a highly productive effort with 11 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Steelers RB Isaac Redman rushed for just 27 yards on nine carries as the Steelers run game continues to remain non-existent, and the team will gladly welcome the return of Rashard Mendenhall in week 5 after the teams’ bye week. WR Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, while fellow receiver Mike Wallace caught eight passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. QB Ben Roethlisberger completed 36/49 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Roethlisberger also became the first QB in NFL history to finish a game with a 120+ passer rating on at least 45 attempts, and still manage to lose the game, which may be the biggest indicator of how bad their defense and running game is right now.
The Cleveland Browns fell to 0-3 after losing at home to the Buffalo Bills, 24-14. After the Bills lost RB C.J. Spiller to a shoulder injury, third-string RB Tashard Choice was able to accumulate 20 rushes for 91 yards, while QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went 22/35 with 208 yards and 3 TDs. Browns ookie QB Brandon Weeden completed just 27/43 passes for 237 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. Rookie RB Trent Richardson gained only 27 yards on 13 carries. Browns coach Pat Shurmur also indicated today that WR Greg Little may be benched for dropping the football too much after finishing second in the NFL in drops in 2011.
As for the AFC North standings, the Bengals and Ravens are tied atop the division with 2-1 records, with the Ravens holding the head-to-head tiebreaker as of now. The Steelers sit in 3rd-place with a 1-2 make, while the Browns are well on their way to another last-place finish after an 0-3 start.