The fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost yesterday certainly wasn’t the result anyone in the fan base was looking for, but it was perhaps a small consolation that everyone else in the division lost, too — and in spectacular fashion. Indeed, the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns all allowed the game-winning score in the final minutes of the game after splitting the lead or owning it outright.
The losses suffered by the Ravens and Browns were particularly remarkable. Baltimore led the Miami Dolphins by 21 points entering the fourth quarter. The defense then fell apart, giving up four touchdowns, with the Ravens only answering with what was then a 51-yard Justin Tucker field goal with 2:18 to play.
But Tua Tagovailoa kept at it and led another scoring drive, finding Jaylen Waddle for the second time in the end zone. The quarterback threw for 469 yards, the receiver accounting for 171. N Tyreek Hill added 190 to Tagovailoa’s total, with two 40-yard touchdowns in the fourth quarter just minutes apart.
That’s a long way of saying that the Ravens are the first team to blow a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter in a dozen years, and it’s the largest lead in franchise history. Between 2011 and the start of the 2022 season, teams that held a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter or better went 711-0 — until yesterday.
Likewise, Cleveland’s loss was equally remarkable. They held a 13-point lead with less than two minutes to play and managed to chip away at it. It’s the first time a team has lost while leading by 13 or more with less than two minutes to play since 2001—and the team that blew that lead was also the Browns.
As a reminder, the Bengals are the defending AFC North champions — indeed, the defending AFC champions. They would be Super Bowl champions if they didn’t blow a lead (either by full or shared ownership) in the final minutes, which they have done in the first two games this year to start 0-2. They are the first AFC Champions to start a season 0-2 since 1999. The last time any Super Bowl participant started 0-2 the following season was the Seattle Seahawks in 2015.
The Ravens and Browns are at least 1-1 after Week 1 wins, Baltimore’s more convincing than Cleveland’s, but still, the entire division is already at least one in the loss column. The Steelers and Browns will find out Thursday night who joins the two-loss Bengals.
Oh yeah, did I mention the Browns lost to the New York Jets with Joe Flacco starting at quarterback? Because I really feel like I should mention this. The Browns blew a 13-point lead on Joe Flacco with less than two minutes to play. Nice one, Joe.