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Bengals return to work, Gilberry, and a tighter AFC North


 Wallace Gilberry re-signed Monday.

The Bengals return to work Monday after their bye week, when they re-signed defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry while gazing upon some different scenery in the AFC North.

Not only did the Bengals get the best possible result Sunday when the Ravens beat the first-place Steelers, but Baltimore did it in a game where neither team showed any semblance of a consistent offense.

The Steelers, who already have a win over the Bengals, got that fourth loss, Baltimore moved into a first-place tie with Pittsburgh at 4-4, and the idle 3-4-1 Bengals head into next Monday night's game in New York against the Giants (8:30-ESPN) with a shot to move ahead of Pittsburgh if the Steelers lose to 7-1 Dallas. But that game is at Heinz Field next Sunday.

 The Ravens, who turn around to host the winless Browns Thursday night, probably move to 5-4, but they still have to play the Bengals twice and the first one is in Baltimore in three weeks.

While the Bengals used their bye week, in part, to mull changes on defense, the first shoe falls Monday when they signed old friend Gilberry to beef up the defensive line rotation. Meanwhile, neither the Ravens nor the Steelers offense lit it up.

Against a Pittsburgh defense ranked 25th in yards per game, the Ravens had to use a missed tackle on wide receiver Mike Wallace's 95-yard catch-and-run, a turnover on a short field, and a blocked punt return to score their touchdowns. Joe Flacco and Co., go into the Browns game ranked 28th in offense.

 The Steelers were working against a more formidable foe. The Ravens are ranked second against the rush and eighth against the pass and in Pittsburgh's first 12 drives the Steelers had two first downs, nine three-and-outs, and two turnovers. They were down 21-0 and cut the final to 21-14 even though wide receiver Antonio Brown had just 85 yards and only two Steelers wide receivers had catches.

The turnovers by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can be explained, no doubt in large part, by his recovery  from arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago. But they also couldn't run the ball with running back Le'Veon Bell gaining 32 yards on 14 carries.

That makes sense against the league's No. 2 rush defense. But the Ravens couldn't make hay against a Steelers' rush defense ranked 24th in the league (the Bengals are 25th)  with running backs Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon  combining for 34 yards on 24 carries. The Bengals are hoping red-hot rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott fares better for the Cowboys Sunday.

(Cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris, waived by the Bengals and claimed by the Ravens last week, was listed as playing Sunday but he wasn't awarded any snaps.)

Yes, the Giants won, beating Philadelphia, 28-23. Yes, they are 5-3. And, yes, Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes. But they aren't coming into the Bengals game exactly tearing it up offensively, either.

Before Sunday Manning had four TD passes in each of the previous four games and they're dead last in rushing after not getting more than 60 yards on the ground in any game the last month. Plus, the guy considered their best offensive lineman, Justin Pugh, sprained his knee.

Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz fired seven passes of at least 20 yards against the Giants and it makes you wonder if old friend Leon Hall is going to be in the lineup against the Bengals. He was a surprise healthy scratch on Sunday, the first one of his career after he played the fourth-most snaps of any New York cornerback with 34 in the win over the Rams in London two weeks ago.  

First-round pick Eli Apple has been nicked most of the  season, so Hall had been averaging 18 snaps per game playing primarily in the slot, where he's ranked 24th in the league among slot corners by The web site has Bengals slot man Josh Shaw ranked 41st.  Before the Giants picked up Hall in training camp, the plan had been to play Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the slot flanked by Apple and Janoris Jenkins .

Also, former Bengals backup quarterback Josh Johnson was the QB behind Manning when Ryan Nassib came up with a bad elbow.

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