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Around the AFC North: Browns Win, But Battered Baker Mayfield Is Struggling

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plays against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Cleveland.

Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield Doesn't Address Media Following Tough Day

Heading into a Sunday night showdown against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, Baker Mayfield is taking heat in Cleveland after the Browns struggled to beat the winless Detroit Lions.

Mayfield declined to speak with the media following Sunday's 13-10 victory after one of his worst performances (15 for 29, 176 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions).

The Browns were blanked in the second half and Mayfield received some booing from home fans after missing on several throws.

Mayfield has been playing with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder for weeks, and he was dealing with other injuries against the Lions, including a bone bruise in his knee and a bruised heel, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski did not second-guess his decision to keep Mayfield in the game instead of turning to backup Case Keenum.

"He was cleared to go in there; I think you guys know he's toughing it out," Stefanski said via the team’s website. "He's battling."

The Browns have been held to 17 points or less in five of their last six games, and their offense is being carried by running back Nick Chubb, who has run for at least 100 yards in four of his last five games.

"We have to score more points," Stefanski said. "We have to find ways to be explosive in the run and the pass. We have to stay on the field on third down to give ourselves another set of downs. We've got to score when we get in the red zone. It's a combination of things but we absolutely have to score more points."

The AFC North is a four-team race, but the Browns (6-6) are in last place, with their next two games against the division-leading Ravens (7-3). Following their game in Baltimore on Sunday night, the Browns have a bye in Week 14, then host the Ravens in Cleveland.

The next three weeks will be critical not only for Mayfield, but for the Browns' season.

"We've got a two-game series with Baltimore with a bye in the middle of that," Stefanski said. "We have to be at our best moving forward."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Cam Heyward Says Apparent Punch Thrown At Justin Herbert 'Was Nothing Malicious'

There were plenty of wild plays during the Steelers' 41-37 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football. But one of the strangest moments involved Steelers star defensive tackle Cam Heyward, who appeared to punch quarterback Justin Herbert as he was on the ground.

Rapoport reported that Heyward faces a possible fine for his actions, but not a suspension. He was flagged for a unnecessary roughness on the play.

Heyward said after the game that he was not trying to punch Herbert.

"To be honest, I was running after the ball and I caught my hand under, and so when I was trying to get up, I couldn't get back up and I fell back on him," Heyward said via Greg Beacham of The Associated Press. "I know it looks terrible, (but) there was nothing malicious behind it. I don't think that I was trying to punch him, but know it looks more worse than it is in slow motion. I'm sorry if I did anything to offend anybody. I wish I had said more to Justin after, but there was nothing behind it."

Herbert shredded the Steelers for 382 yards passing, three touchdowns and 90 yards rushing in a performance that dropped Pittsburgh to 5-4-1 heading into a key AFC North game against the Cincinnati Bengals (6-4).

Head Coach Mike Tomlin will be hoping the Steelers do a better job defending Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow than they did containing Herbert, whose running ability hurt Pittsburgh badly.

"We just weren't effective at keeping him in the pocket," Tomlin said, via the Steelers website. "It wasn't a surprise to us. We didn't perform well enough against it.

"It was us today. It was about what we did or did not do. No disrespect to him or those guys. We didn't rush well enough. We didn't keep him in the pocket. And we weren't tight enough in coverage."

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon Doing Heavy Lifting in Offense

Running the football successfully can be particularly crucial late in the season, and Joe Mixon is on a roll. He had 130 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday as the Bengals rolled past the Las Vegas Raiders, 32-13.

Mixon has rushed for over 1,000 yards twice in his career, but he's on pace to have his most productive season, and only Derrick Henry (219 carries), Jonathan Taylor (193) and Najee Harris (188) have more rushing attempts this season than Mixon. Against the Raiders, he finished many runs with physicality and earned extra yards.

Mixon said he is welcoming the workload down the stretch.

"With the history of me being in Cincinnati, usually November and December become them games where they lean on me," said Mixon via the team’s website. "I've been really doing big things and finishing very strong. I'm ready for it."

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