Usually, when the AFC East registers only one win over the course of a weekend, it belongs to the New England Patriots. In week 10, however, the Patriots lost 31-24 to the Seattle Seahawks to fall to 7-2.
So, who has earned the lone divisional victory? The Miami Dolphins, who have established themselves as the number two team in the AFC East over the last few weeks. Let’s take a look at their week 10, and the New York Jets’ as well.
2. Miami Dolphins (5-4)
Week 10: win (31-24 against the San Diego Chargers, in San Diego CA)
For the first time all year, the Miami Dolphins have a winning record thanks to a 31-24 road victory, their first since week 10 of last season, over the San Diego Chargers. The game started as a slow defensive stalemate that neither team was able to break in the first quarter. The home team finally found some rhythm and took a 10-0 lead midway through the second period. However, the Dolphins were able to respond with a long touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill (17/24, 240 yds, 2 TDs) to Kenny Stills (2/47 yds, 1 TD).
Thus, Miami headed into the locker room with a three point deficit, which would be turned in a four point advantage on the opening drive of the second half: It took the Dolphins only five plays to take the lead on a Damien Williams (2/2 yds, 1 TD) touchdown run. San Diego answered with a 12-play touchdown drive before the Dolphins were able to retake the lead again. Tannehill connected with Williams on an 18-yard pass to take Miami up 21-17. However, after forcing a Chargers punt, the Dolphins turned the ball over inside their own five yard line when returnman Jakeem Grant muffed the catch.
Backed up, Miami’s defense made a big play, though, when cornerback Tony Lippett intercepted Philipp Rivers (23/44, 326 yds, 3 TDs, 4 INTs) in the end zone. After a Dolphins 3-and-out, the Chargers were driving for the lead but another interception – this time by Byron Maxwell – stopped the drive. However, Miami’s defense went 3-and-out again, giving the Chargers another chance to take the lead; one, the home team did not miss. This time, Miami was able to fight back and tied the game at 24 with three minutes remaining.
San Diego had enough time to drive for a potentially game-winning score but the Dolphins’ defense stepped up again: Linebacker Kiko Alonso undercut the pass route and returned the interception 60 yards for a touchdown. Any chance of a Chargers comeback was eliminated when Lippett registered his second pick – the defense’s fourth in the fourth quarter – three plays later.
Despite not quite playing a perfect game, the Dolphins were able to make the plays when they needed to be made; especially in the fourth quarter. Thus, the team improves to 5-4 and the seventh seed in the AFC. However, with three AFC West teams having already registered seven wins, Miami still faces an uphill battle to earn a spot in the playoffs.
To watch highlights of the game, click here.
3. Buffalo Bills (4-5)
Week 10: bye week
4. New York Jets (3-7)
Week 10: loss (9-6 against the Los Angeles Rams, in East Rutherford NJ)
With nominal starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick dealing with a knee injury, the Jets turned to former third-stringer Bryce Petty (19/32, 163 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) to lead their offense against the visiting Los Angeles Rams. However, despite the new quarterback, the unit still struggled en route to a 9-6 loss – the seventh time this year, the team came out on the losing side.
The game started with a 12-play drive by the Rams that put them ahead 3-0. New York’s defense was able to limit the damage, though, by stopping Los Angeles from scoring a touchdown despite having 1st and goal from the 1-yard line. The Jets’ offense did not have the same partial success and went 3-and-out. After another long drive by the Rams, that ended in a punt, Petty and New York’s offense took over on their own 1-yard line.
Petty then drove his team 99 yards nine place, capped by a neatly designed touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall (4/15 yds), who lateraled the ball back to Bilal Powell (11 touches/89 yards, 1 TD), who in turn ran it in for the score. It was an impressive drive that – after missing the extra point – gave the Jets a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter, which ended with five consecutive punts.
After three punts to start the second half, the Rams went on a 15-play drive that took 8:25 off the clock and tied the game at six. Despite the score, neither team found its offensive rhythm until Los Angeles went on another long scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter. It ended in another field goal and forced the Jets’ offense to answer. The unit was unable to do so and an interception by Petty with 1:52 left in the game, sealed the contest for the visitors.
With the loss, the Jets now stand at 3-7 and are currently in the running for a top-five draft pick next year. First things first, though, New York now heads into its bye week before traveling to Foxboro to take on the Patriots.
To watch highlights of the game, click here.