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AFC East Report: Week 5

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New England still sits atop the division, while the Bills start to establish themselves as their top contender.

Week 5 is in the books and it went very well for the New England Patriots, who improved their overall record to 4-1 thanks to a convincing 33-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns. The team has been able to bounce back in style from last week’s home-loss to the Buffalo Bills to keep the spot in the divisional standings.

The division, after Sunday’s games, now looks as follows:

2. Buffalo Bills (3-2)

Week 5: win (30-19 against the Los Angeles Rams, in Los Angeles CA)

Buffalo, coming off a 16-0 victory over the Patriots, started its week 5 game slowly – but did rebound quickly. First, the defense allowed the Rams to march 60 yards in 12 plays to take a 3-0 lead, then the offense nearly ran into disaster following a fumbled snap due to a miscommunication. This led to the Bills finding themselves in a 3rd and 19 – and that is when quarterback Tyrod Taylor (12/23, 124 yds, 2 TDs) took it upon himself to swing momentum his team’s way.

Taylor converted the 3rd down by scrambling for 22 yards, ultimately setting up a five-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Justin Hunter (1/4 yds, 1 TD). It did not take long for Buffalo to add to the 7-3 lead. Only two plays after cornerback Corey Graham recovered a fumble, the team scored its second touchdown of the day. However, the extra point attempt was blocked, which is why the Rams were able to tie the game at 13 with a field goal and a touchdown.

The teams traded field goals before Buffalo’s defense came up big: Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Los Angeles quarterback Case Keenum (21/31, 271 yds, 2 INTs) late in the third quarter and returned the ball 41 yards for a score. The home team would only add another field goal, which the Bills answered with a crucial 4th down stop followed by Taylor’s second touchdown pass of the day.

While the Rams were statistically on par with the Bills, turnovers, red zone efficiency and a dominant running game tipped the scales in favor of the visitors. Overall, Buffalo was able to gain 193 yards on the ground on just 27 carries (7.1 yards/carry), was able to register three takeaways without turning the ball over itself, and converted three of five red zone trips into touchdowns – as opposed to only one the Rams were able to turn into six points.

Los Angeles did gain more yards and first downs than the Bills, but in the end made too many mistakes. Consequently, Buffalo improves to 3-2 and establishes itself as the frontrunner for the title of "team trying to catch the Patriots".

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

t-3. New York Jets (1-4)

Week 5: loss (31-13 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Pittsburgh PA)

Despite the relatively clear final result, the New York Jets began their week 5 game in Pittsburgh competitively. On the opening drive, the team marched 58 yards in eight plays to take a 3-0 lead. However, just three plays later, cornerback Marcus Williams got beaten on a deep go-route leading to a 74-yard touchdown catch to put the Steelers on top 7-3.

Early in the second quarter, the Jets added another field goal and after stopping Pittsburgh short of the first-down marker on a fake punt attempt took a 13-7 lead: Ryan Fitzpatrick (25/38, 255 yds, 1 TD) connected with receiver Brandon Marshall (8/114 yds, 1 TD) from 15 yards out. However, the defense once again could not hold on to the lead and gave up a 75-yard, 11-play touchdown drive in a mere 1:25. Thus, New York entered the locker room down by one point.

The Jets would never come closer to the Steelers, who shut the team down in the second half while adding a field goal and two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Gang Green was outplayed in all three phases in the game’s final 30 minutes. The fact that the team ran only one offensive play in Pittsburgh territory in quarters three and four is a perfect example for this.

Overall, New York had issues across the board. The offense, after a promising start, stalled in the second half and thus finished the game with only 316 yards. The unit had major troubles sustaining drives, converting only 2 of 11 3rd down attempts. On defense, 3rd down was a problem as well: the Steelers were able to convert half of their attempts allowing them to keep the momentum even despite losing the turnover battle 0-1. The Jets lose their third straight game and now head into their Monday night matchup in Arizona with a 1-4 record.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

t-3. Miami Dolphins (1-4)

Week 5: loss (30-17 against the Tennessee Titans, in Miami FL)

In a battle of two 1-3 teams, the Miami Dolphins came up short against the visiting Tennessee Titans. Early on, neither team was able to consistently move the ball when on offense. It took until the final minute of the first quarter for the first team to break the scoreless tie: the Titans took a 7-0 lead. Miami’s offense was unable to immediately answer – but its special teams unit was. Punt returner Jakeem Grant tied the game with a 74-yard run-back.

The subsequent three drives all ended in touchdowns. The Titans went up 14-7 before Miami tied the game with a four-yard run by Jay Ajayi (13/42 yds, 1 TD), and the Titans went back up again. Thus, the Dolphins headed into halftime facing a 7-point deficit. The team did receive the second half kickoff but the opening drive ended abruptly with an interception thrown by Ryan Tannehill (12/18, 191 yds, 2 INTs). Tennessee took advantage of the turnover and scored a field goal off it.

The Dolphins answered with a field goal of their own but another touchdown by the Titans put the game out of reach (as did Tannehill’s second pick of the day). While Adam Gase’s team lost by "only" 13 points, it was thoroughly outplayed on offense and defense. Tannehill and the offense were only able to gain 200 yards and eight first downs, struggling both on the ground (3.0 yards/rush) and through the air (6 sacks given up). Furthermore, the fifth-year quarterback turned the ball over twice.

Miami’s defense did not fare much better as it surrendered 398 yards, 235 of which on the ground (5.7 yards/carry). The unit also struggled in the red zone, giving up three touchdowns on three Titans opportunities. With the defense, which was on the field almost 37 minutes due to the offense’s anemic play, being unable to carry the other side of the ball, it is no surprise to see Miami fall to 1-4

To watch highlights of the game, click here.