Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
To sum up the third week in the AFC North: There were three first-quarter touchdowns by a Ravens rookie (wide receiver Torrey Smith), two last-minute game-winning scores (by the Steelers and Browns) and one missing offense (at least that's the rumor in Cincinnati, where there were 20,000 empty seats for a home opener).
As a result, there's a three-team tie atop the AFC North with the Browns, Ravens and Steelers all sporting 2-1 records. The Bengals have lost two straight to fall into sole possession of last place.
At this moment, no other division has three teams in first place, although that could change in the NFC East if Dallas beats Washington on Monday night.
BROWNS: In filling in for running back Peyton Hillis (illness), Montario Hardesty ran 14 times for 67 yards and caught three passes for 19 yards. His 10-yard catch on fourth-and-4 was a key play on the game-winning touchdown drive, as the Canton Repository pointed out. Hensley's slant: There's no question that the Browns need Hillis to return. But Hardesty's play should have earned him some more well-deserved playing time.
BENGALS: With running back Cedric Benson possibly serving a three-game suspension from the NFL, the Bengals are bringing in Larry Johnson for a tryout, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Johnson was signed in 2009 by the Bengals after Benson suffered a hip flexor injury. Hensley's slant: Losing Benson for a three-game stretch would be a substantial blow to Cincinnati. After watching Andy Dalton suffer through some growing pains Sunday, it's apparent that he can't carry the team, especially in third-and-long situations.
RAVENS: Baltimore decided to replace injured left guard Ben Grubbs (toe) with Andre Gurode instead of Mark LeVoir, and the results were much better than last Sunday's outing in Tennessee, according to The Baltimore Sun. Unlike a week ago, the offensive line opened big enough holes to allow running backs to average 9.3 yards per carry and gave Joe Flacco enough time to find Smith deep downfield. Hensley's slant: Gurode is one of the most accomplished backup offensive linemen that the Ravens have ever had. The only surprise is that Baltimore waited one week before putting him in the lineup to fill in for Grubbs.
STEELERS: Cornerback Bryant McFadden was scratched for the second time in three games because of a hamstring injury, according to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. William Gay started in McFadden's place. Hensley's slant: The Steelers had better get their secondary in order before playing next week against Matt Schaub and the Texans. That includes Ike Taylor, who got saved by an overthrown pass after getting faked out on a double move.