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AFC East Report: Week 9; Bills lose tight one in Seattle, Dolphins beat Jets in wild game

Week 9 is in the books, let’s take a look at what happened in the Patriots’ division.

While the New England Patriots enjoyed their bye week, their three AFC East rivals all had to play. This led to a change in the divisional standings, as the Miami Dolphins have been able to overtake the Buffalo Bills.

How? Find out in this week’s edition of the AFC East Report.

2. Miami Dolphins (4-4)

Week 9: win (27-23 against the New York Jets, in Miami Gardens FL)

For the first time this year, the Dolphins faced the New York Jets – and it was a successful meeting for the home team. While the Jets went up with an early field goal, Miami fought right back as Jay Ajayi (24/111 yds, 1 TD) registered a 20-yard touchdown run on his team’s first possession of the day. However, the Dolphins’ defense did not fare any better on its second series, giving up another scoring drive – this one went for a touchdown.

Early in the second quarter, Miami took the lead again on a touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill (17/28, 149 yds, 1 TD) to tight end Dominique Jones (3/42, 1 TD). Since the defense gave up another long drive that ended with a field goal, the Dolphins headed into halftime up 14-13. The second half started slow until a Miami field goal kicked off a wild final 20-minutes.

On the next play from scrimmage after the Dolphins took a 17-13 lead, defensive tackle Jordan Philipps registered an interception, which led to another field goal. The Jets were able to score a field goal of their own before driving into the red zone again. However, Brice McCain registered the Dolphins’ second takeaway of the afternoon when he picked off a pass in the end zone.

The Dolphins could not take advantage of the takeaway, though, as the team went 3-and-out. To make matters worse, punter Matt Darr lost the football on the punt attempt and New York took over at Miami’s 18-yard line. Two plays later, the Dolphins found themselves in a 23-20 hole. Enter rookie running back Kenyan Drake (1/6 yds), who returned the following kickoff (after a Jets offsides forced a re-kick) 96 yards to give Miami a lead neither its defense nor offense would give up again.

Miami and New York played a relatively balanced game on Sunday, with neither team standing out in any particular statistic. Consequently, big plays made the difference – and the Dolphins had more of them especially in the second half. Whether it is takeaways or Drake’s return touchdown, Adam Gase’s team made the big plays, the Jets were unable to make. As a result, Miami improves to .500 and second place in the division for the first time this season.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Buffalo Bills (4-5)

Week 9: loss (31-25 against the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle WA)

Buffalo played a solid game, was competitive on the road against the Seahawks, and came close to winning the prime time matchup. In the end, though, Rex Ryan’s squad was unable to overcome the adversity it faced and thus lost the game (and starting center Eric Wood to a broken ankle). For the first time since week 4, the Bills now have a losing record.

The contest started very well for the Bills, who forced a 3-and-out and blocked the ensuing punt attempt to set up the offense on Seattle’s 3-yard line. On the very next play, quarterback Tyrod Taylor (27/38, 289 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) rushed for a touchdown. However, a long kickoff return and pass completion helped Seattle tie the game just four plays later. Buffalo was unfazed by the score, though and went right back to work with a 17-play, 10:00 drive that gave the team a 14-7 lead thanks to Taylor connecting with wideout Justin Hunter (1/5 yds, 1 TD).

Seattle answered with a touchdown of its own, scoring on the very first play of the second quarter. The Bills were able to again move the ball well on their next possession but were stopped in the red zone to kick a field goal; destroying the offensive rhythm a little. While the home team was able to score two touchdowns over its next three possessions, Buffalo came closest to scoring in the final seconds of the first half. However, a blatant unnecessary roughness penalty was missed by Walt Anderson’s officiating crew, with the ensuing chaos resulting in a missed field goal.

After a scoreless third quarter, which saw the game’s only turnover (an interception by Taylor), Buffalo decreased the deficit early in the fourth quarter with a touchdown run by Mike Gillislee (8/32 yds, 1 TD) and a successful two-point conversion. However, a Seahawks field goal made a touchdown a must for the Bills. The offense was unable to deliver and ultimately stalled in the Seahawks’ red zone on 4th and goal with :20 left in the game.

The Bills played a very competitive game in a tough environment, besting the Seahawks in most statistical categories. They ran more plays (82-42), held the ball longer (40:17-19:43), gained more first downs (30-19) and yards (425-278) and were more successful on 3rd down (70%-28%). However, Buffalo lost two important categories: turnovers (-1) and red zone efficiency (60%-100%). While a lot of the blame will rightfully fall on the poor officiating, the Bills still had plenty of chances to win the game. They just couldn’t.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (3-6)

Week 9: win (27-23 against the New York Jets, in Miami Gardens FL)

For the first time this year, the Jets faced the Miami Dolphins – and it was not a successful meeting for the visiting team despite the game actually starting well for Todd Bowles’ squad. New York received the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards in 13 plays to take a 3-0 lead. However, the Dolphins took a 7-3 lead on the ensuing drive, aided by three consecutive defensive penalties (two of which 15-yarders).

New York fought back and scored its first touchdown of the day when Matt Forte (12/92 yds, 1 TD) found the endzone from 31 yards out – but Miami scored another touchdown on the next possession. The Jets were able to add a field goal prior to halftime to make it a one-point game.

The third quarter started with the two rivals exchanging field goals before the Dolphins widened the gap to four points. On the very next play from scrimmage, Ryan Fitzpatrick (17/28, 193 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs) threw an interception to set up another Miami field goal. The next drive did not go better for New York’s passer, who temporarily had to leave the game because of injury. He was replaced by Bryce Petty (2/2, 19 yds), who led the team to another field goal.

After Fitzpatrick returned to the game, he drove the Jets’ offense into the red zone but threw his second interception of the day. Miami could not cash in, however, and turned the ball over on downs on its own 18-yard line after fumbling an attempted punt. Two plays later, the Jets were on top thanks to a Brandon Marshall (3/59 yds, 1 TD) touchdown catch. New York’s lead did not last long: the ensuing kickoff was returned 96 yards for a Miami score. The Jets were unable to answer, falling to 3-6.

While New York outgained Miami 332-274, the team kept itself shooting in the foot in all three phases of the game. Undisciplined penalties, turnovers, red zone struggled (1 of 5 compared to the Dolphins 1 of 4) and finally the kickoff return touchdown all played a major part in the Jets’ loss. While the team’s playoff hopes are technically still alive, it needs a quick and major turnaround or else the Jets’ offseason will start early for the sixth straight year.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.