AFC North and NFL Roundup: Week of Dec. 10-14

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Friday, Dec. 14

Steelers Defense Not Forcing Turnovers
The Steelers have one of the NFL's top defenses this season, but the group has not been able to force as many turnovers as past years. The Steelers have the second-lowest number of interceptions in the NFL this season with seven, and then rank 20th in sacks. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Dawson Could Play Final Game In Cleveland Sunday
The Cleveland Browns play their final home game of the season this weekend and it could be the final game in Cleveland for long-time kicker Phil Dawson. The veteran kicker is the only player remaining from the team when the Browns returned in 1999, and it's unknown if he'll be back in Cleveland next season.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Bengals Top Eagles In Philly 
The Cincinnati Bengals got back on the winning track with a 34-13 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football. The win keeps the Bengals playoff hopes alive and also drops the Eagles to 4-10 on the season. The Bengals improved to 8-6 on the year. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Goodell, Payton Reportedly Working On Reinstatement
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the entire season, but he has reportedly started working with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about gaining reinstatement for next season. Payton reportedly wants his reinstatement date moved up to at the end of the regular season, rather than after the Super Bowl. [SI.com] Thursday, Dec. 13

Wallace Understands Fans' Criticisms
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace has been criticized in recent weeks by fans following some untimely drops. Wallace was even booed at home on Sunday. Wallace said that he understands the criticism, especially after his contract dispute and holdout leading up to the season. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Browns Preparing To Face RGIII
The Cleveland Browns will face off with the Washington Redskins this weekend, and the big question heading into the weekend is whether Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III will suit up. RGIII was hurt in Sunday's game against the Ravens, and the Browns are preparing that he will play through the knee injury he suffered. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Lewis Identifies With Reid 
The Cincinnati Bengals are preparing to face the Philadelphia Eagles tonight on Thursday Night Football, and Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis said that he identifies with Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid, who is on the hot seat. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Goodell, Tagliabue Disagree *
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with the media on Wednesday after his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, overruled him on the player suspensions for the Saints bounty scandal. Goodell said that he disagreed with Tagliabue's decision and believed that the players should be punished for their role in the scandal.  [SI.com] *
Wednesday, Dec. 12

RB Mendenhall Suspended One Game
The Pittsburgh Steelers have suspended running back Rashard Mendenhall for one game for "conduct detrimental to the team." The fifth-year running back reportedly skipped Sunday's game against the Chargers after learning that he would be inactive.  [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

LB Fujita's Name Cleared
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita had his suspension overturned by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue for his role in the Saints bounty scandal. Tagliabue's ruling clears Fujita's name, but he won't be able to return to the field because he is on injured reserve with a potentially career-threatening neck injury.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Burfict Blossoms With Better Build 
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict fell out of the draft based on a variety of concerns, both on and off-the-field. But he has blossomed into one of the Cincinnati Bengals top defenders, and that process started with cutting weight and getting in shape this offseason. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Goodell's Player Suspensions Overturned  *
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled against his successor, Roger Goodell, in the appeal of the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. Tagliabue was appointed by Goodell as an independent party to review the appeal, and his ruling vacates the player  suspensions related to the case. [SI.com] *
Monday, Dec. 10

Steelers Fall To Chargers 34-24
The Steelers got Ben Roethlisberger back in the lineup Sunday, but they still came up short to the San Diego Chargers. The Steelers fell at home 34-24, costing themselves an opportunity to make up ground in the AFC North.  [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Cleveland Crushes Kansas City
The Cleveland Browns have won their third straight game after taking down the Kansas City Chiefs 30-7 on Sunday. The Browns controlled the game on all sides of the ball, and now they are 5-3 in their last eight games. "We're in a tough spot, but we still have a chance," said quarterback Brandon Weeden. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Green Takes Blame For Loss 
The Cincinnati Bengals also cost themselves an opportunity to make up ground in the AFC North by losing to the Dallas Cowboys 20-19 at Paul Brown Stadium. One of the problems was that second-year receiver A.J. Green had one off the worst games of his career, and he took blame for the loss after the game.  [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Seahawks Top Cardinals 58-0
The Seattle Seahawks took down the Arizona Cardinals 58-0 on Sunday, the largest margin of victory in the NFL this season. "This was really a different game. This is so much different than everything we've played," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "It's a nice reward. Sometimes you get a chance to win big like that and we haven't had many since we've been here." [SI.com]

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