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AFC North Recap: Ravens slip to last place to finish the season

After the Browns won a meaningless game, and the Steelers beat the Ravens, Baltimore finds themselves in the basement of the division.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL Regular Season is behind us, and it was quite the week in the AFC North division. With that said, it is time to see how the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns all did in the week that was.

Time to take a look...

Cleveland Browns - 21
Cincinnati Bengals - 16

In the battle of backup quarterbacks, Case Keenum was able to deliver the Cleveland faithful a win in a meaningless game. The Bengals, who had already locked in their spot in the AFC Playoffs and clinched the AFC North, had very little to play for and it showed. Meanwhile, the Browns’ victory had a ripple effect for the franchise. A 7-10 finish would have had the Browns drafting near the Top 10, instead they will be picking 13th overall. On top of that, the victory put them in third place in the division, meaning they’ll be playing the Houston Texans, Washington Football Team and Los Angeles Chargers next season as a result. You play every game to win, and the Browns found a way to give their home fans one more win in Week 18.

Pittsburgh Steelers - 16 (OT)
Baltimore Ravens - 13

In what might go down as one of the craziest days of football for Steelers fans around the globe, it all started with the win at M&T Bank Stadium in overtime vs. the Ravens. The win pushed the Steelers into position to make the postseason, killed the Ravens’ hopes of getting in and also equated in Baltimore finishing last with a losing record of 8-9. The Ravens lost their final six games of the season, and to think they once controlled the division is still mind-boggling. But for the Steelers, as the fan base celebrated, there was this tiny ounce of doubt in the back of everyone’s minds. If the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers tied on Sunday Night Football, the Steelers would be on the outside looking in of the playoffs.

We all thought about it, but likely finished with the same response, “Nah, they won’t tie.” What likely followed were the scenarios of an overtime game where neither team truly needed to win, and just settling for a tie.

Again, “Nah, that won’t happen.”

Black and gold fans watched as the Chargers and Justin Herbert erased a 14-point deficit in the final 5 minutes of the game, and overtime looked to be playing out just how every fan feared. “Oh my goodness, they are going to tie!” Then, for some reason, the Steelers were given a gift when Brandon Staley, Chargers head coach, called a timeout with 30 seconds remaining in the game. Staley told reporters after the game the reasoning behind the timeout was to ensure his defense has their best personnel grouping at the ready.

The Raiders changed their approach, and got a big run by Josh Jacobs to set up the game-winning field goal. An excruciating loss for the Chargers to end the season, and Steelers faithful around the globe breathed a huge sigh of relief. They are in, now comes the hard part — the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card Round.

As Mike Lange used to say, “Get in the fast lane grandma, the bingo game is ready to roll!”

AFC North Standings

Cincinnati Bengals - 10-7-0
Pittsburgh Steelers - 9-7-1
Cleveland Browns - 8-9-0
Baltimore Ravens - 8-9-0

AFC North Playoff Schedule:

Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals — 4:30 p.m. ET, Saturday
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs — 8:15 p.m. ET, Sunday

AFC North 2022 NFL Draft Order:

13. Cleveland Browns
14. Baltimore Ravens