The fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers took the loss yesterday was certainly not the result that anybody in the fanbase was looking for, but it was perhaps some small consolation that everybody else in the division lost as well—and in spectacularly backbreaking fashion. Indeed, the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, and Cleveland Browns all allowed the game-winning score in the final minutes of the game after sharing 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 responding with what was at the time a lead-seizing 51-yard Justin Tucker field goal with 2:18 to play.
But Tua Tagovailoa kept at it and led yet another scoring drive, finding Jaylen Waddle for the second time in the end zone. The quarterback threw for 469 yards, the receiving accounting for 171. By Tyreek Hill added 190 to Tagovailoa’s total, with two 40-plus-yard touchdowns in the fourth quarter just minutes apart.
This is a long way of saying that the Ravens are the first team to play a 21-point fourth-quarter lead in a dozen years, and is the biggest blown lead in franchise history. Between 2011 and the start of the 2022 season, teams who owned a 21-point fourth-quarter lead or better went 711-0—until yesterday.
Likewise, Cleveland’s defeat was similarly remarkable. They held a 13-point lead with under two minutes to play, and managed to blow that. It’s the first time a team has lost while leading by 13 or more with under two minutes to play since 2001—and the team that blew that lead also happened to be the Browns.
As a reminder, the Bengals are the defending AFC North champions—indeed, the defending AFC Champions. They would have been Super Bowl champions if they hadn’t blown leads (whether owned outright or shared) in the final minutes, which they’ve done in the first two games this year to start 0-2. They’re 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 one victories, Baltimore’s more convincing than Cleveland’s, but nevertheless, the entire division is already at least one in the loss column. The Steelers and Browns will find out on Thursday night who joins the Bengals with two losses.
Oh yeah, did I mention that the Browns lost to the New York Jets—with Joe Flacco starting at quarterback? Because I really feel like I should mention that. The Browns blew a 13-point lead to Joe Flacco with under two minutes to play. Cool, Joe.