Cleveland Browns: Loss of Odell Beckham Mars Comeback Win
The Browns' 37-34 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals came with a heavy price.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter. The Browns officially announced Beckham was done for the season after an MRI on Monday morning.
Beckham's absence will put more pressure on everyone to pick up the slack as Cleveland (5-2) tries to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Wide receiver Rashard Higgins (six catches, 110 yards) stepped up Sunday, as did tight end Harrison Bryant (four catches, 56 yards, two touchdowns).
However, Beckham's loss is a huge blow to Cleveland. Baker Mayfield played well after Beckham left the game, throwing five touchdown passes. But the fiery quarterback said it weighed on his mind to see Beckham go down, trying to make a tackle after Mayfield threw an interception on his first toss of the game.
"I'd be lying to say that I was not beating myself up about it," Mayfield said via ESPN.com. "To go into halftime and see him, and I told him I love him, and he said, 'Go be great.' That was what he left me with to open up the second half. That was something I continued to remember throughout the second half."
Cleveland may lean more on its potent running attack that is currently being led by Kareem Hunt (18 carries, 72 yards), with running back Nick Chubb (knee) not expected back until November. Cleveland also has another proven wide receiver in Jarvis Landy, who leads the Browns in catches (29).
However, Beckham's presence forces opposing defenses to be wary of his big-play ability, even when he isn't putting up huge stats. Now the Browns know they'll be playing the rest of 2020 without him.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Focus Is on Ravens, Not Being 6-0
There's only one unbeaten team left in the NFL, and it resides in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers (6-0) are doing whatever it takes to win. They escaped with a hard-fought 27-24 victory over the previously undefeated Tennessee Titans, overcoming three interceptions thrown by Ben Roethlisberger.
That increases the anticipation for the AFC North showdown between the Ravens (5-1) and Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday (Nov. 1). Following their victory in Tennessee, the Steelers were quickly thinking about Baltimore. Head Coach Mike Tomlin brought up the fact that the Ravens enjoyed a bye in Week 7, giving them extra time to prepare.
"We realize that we've got AFC North ball next week on the road," Tomlin said during his postgame video conference via PittburghSteelers.com. "We're going to a group that has seven days advantage on us. There's a lot for us to be urgent about. We won't spend a lot of time celebrating this or appreciating this, because there's just more work that lies ahead."
It's not shocking that the Steelers are contenders again, after the return of Roethlisberger from last year's elbow surgery. But it's their defense that has carried them. Pittsburgh leads the NFL in total defense (286.3 yards per game), and against the Titans they kept Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry (20 carries, 75 yards, one touchdown) from dominating.
Pittsburgh's front seven is difficult to control, even without inside linebacker Devin Bush, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 6. Robert Spillane started in place of Bush and brought a physical presence, including a massive hit at the goal line on Henry.
Sunday's Ravens-Steelers matchup could be another classic between the two rivals – two superb defenses and two teams with huge goals in mind. They'll meet again in Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night, but Roethlisberger would love to see the Steelers remain the league's only unbeaten team with a victory in Baltimore.
"We feel we have a very good football team," Roethlisberger said. "It could be very special. We're happy with where we are right now, but that's going to be a short-lived happiness because we know what's coming up next. We've got a team coming off the bye that's one of the best in football."
Cincinnati Bengals: Carlos Dunlap's Frustration Boils Over on Sidelines
The rift between veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap and the Bengals coaching staff may have reached the breaking point.
ESPN reported that Dunlap got into a sideline argument with Defensive Coordinator Lou Anaromo, but other reports said he was arguing with Defensive Line Coach Nick Eason after Cleveland scored the game-winning touchdown with 16 seconds to play.
After the game, Dunlap posted his house for sale on social media, fueling speculation that he might be dealt before the Nov. 3 trade deadline. Dunlap originally voiced his displeasure several weeks ago after his role was reduced earlier this season. Sunday's loss continued a frustrating trend for Cincinnati (1-5-1), with a porous defense wasting another strong performance by rookie quarterback Joe Burrow (career-high 406 yards passing, three touchdowns).
A few Bengals said they were disappointed with Dunlap's outburst.
"I know a lot of people are frustrated with whatever's going on, but at the end of the day we're family, so we've got to keep all this in house," wide receiver A.J. Green said via ESPN.
The Bengals have given up at least 30 points in five of their seven games and will host Tennessee in Week 8.