Around the AFC North: James Conner Leads Potent Ground Game for Steelers

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Steelers RB James Conner

Pittsburgh Steelers: James Conner Is Rolling and Steelers Remain Unbeaten

The Steelers are thrilled to have Ben Roethlisberger healthy, but their running attack is making his job easier.

James Conner had his second straight 100-yard game (109 yards, 18 carries) in Pittsburgh's 28-21 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday. The running game has continued to roll no matter who carries the rock for the unbeaten Steelers (3-0). When Conner was injured in Week 1, Benny Snell subbed in and ran for 113 yards.

Conner had 65 yards rushing during the fourth quarter Sunday to help Pittsburgh ice the win. Even when Houston expected the Steelers to run, they ran with success. As the Ravens have shown, being able to control games on the ground can be deflating to opponents.

"It's been critical because all of these games are close," Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said via the Pittsburgh Tribune. "Everything in the National Football League is a one-score game, so your ability in the waning moments to possess the ball and not put your defense back in harm's way (is important), to win the critical possession downs (is important), be it a run or run-like action."

When Conner is healthy, he will continue to be the Steelers' "bell cow" according to Tomlin. Pittsburgh visits the unbeaten Tennessee Titans (3-0) in Week 4, and the Steelers will enter that game with at least a share of the AFC North lead.

Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett Makes Difference-Making Plays

When the Cleveland Browns signed defensive end Myles Garrett to a five-year contract extension reportedly worth $125 million, they were expecting him to be a dominant player. Through three games, Garrett has delivered. He was a one-man wrecking crew Sunday in Cleveland's 34-20 victory over Washington, causing three turnovers on seven pressures and two sacks.

Garrett almost undressed Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins on one throw.

Garrett also had a strip sack against Haskins, and the Browns have a winning record for the first time since 2014. Cleveland has bounced back well from its Week 1 loss to the Ravens, and the Browns believe they can make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

"This is a chance we haven't had in a long time, just to have a winning record whether it's early or late," Garrett said via clevelandbrowns.com. "We have to start changing history here and our legacies right now."

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow Takes Punishment as Bengals Settle for Tie

Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked eight times Sunday while throwing for 312 yards and two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles. Burrow showed plenty of toughness withstanding the punishment, but Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor knows he can't afford to have his young quarterback hit that often. Burrow has been sacked 14 times, the most of any NFL quarterback.

"That's something we got to fix right away," Taylor said via cincinnatibengals.com. "I don't care what play you call; you're going to have problems when you can't block a guy for a second. That part is frustrating."

Burrow was momentarily shaken up after one sack, but he quickly reentered the game.

"I got the wind knocked out of me for about 10 seconds," Burrow said. "They told me I had to go out for a play. I was good after that."

Wide receiver Tyler Boyd believes the Bengals will start winning if they do a better job protecting Burrow. Cincinnati (0-2-1) hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4.

"I know how much Joe wants to win," Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd said after catching 10 passes for 125 yards. "To see him take those hits and for him (to) go down and for him to get injured, it hurts. We have to figure out a way to protect him and figure a way to make tough catches on our end as well."

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