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AFC East Report: Week 1

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While the Patriots have won their first game of the season, the other teams of their division were less successful.

After 2016 opening day, the AFC East looks like it has looked for the majority of the last 15 seasons: the New England Patriots (1-0) are on top. The team was able to beat the Arizona Cardinals 23-21 on Sunday Night Football, becoming the division’s lone victor on Sunday.

The other three teams were less successful as a look at this season's first edition of the AFC East Report shows.

t-2. Miami Dolphins (0-1)

Week 1: loss (10-12 against the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle WA)

With 4:12 left in the game, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (16/29, 186 yds) rushed for a two-yard touchdown to give his team a 10-6 lead in Seattle. However, Miami’s defense was unable to close out the game – despite two opportunities to stop the home team on fourth down. The Seahawks re-took the lead with only 31 seconds on the clock and would not let Miami get anywhere close to winning the game.

Overall, it was a sloppy game, dominated by defense. Miami’s was on a level playing field with Seattle’s for most of the game – just not when it most needed to be. The unit gave up 358 yards – playing well against both the pass and the run – and finished with three sacks and two takeaways. In the end, though, the two wasted fourth down came back to haunt the unit.

While the defense’s overall performance was solid, special teams left three points on the field due to a blocked field goal attempt and the offense in general struggled. The unit finished with 214 yards and 11 first downs and converted only 3 of 14 3rd down attempts. Tannehill was unspectacular but neither his pass catchers nor his offensive line, which struggled in the passing game (five sacks) and running game (3.2 average), did much to support him. Combine all those factors and it is no surprise that the team was unable to score more than 10 points – and lose Adam Gase’s head coaching debut.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

t-2. New York Jets (0-1)

Week 1: loss (22-23 against the Cincinnati Bengals, in East Rutherford NJ)

Opening day started well for the New York Jets. After forcing a three-and-out, the offense drove 78 yards in ten plays to take a 7-0 lead. On the very next drive, the team’s defense stepped up again when cornerback Marcus Williams intercepted Andy Dalton (23/30, 366 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) near midfield. However, the Jets were unable to take advantage of the takeaway – courtesy of a blocked field goal – and the Bengals were able to get back into the game; eventually turning it into a head-to-head race.

The Jets were able to turn a four-point deficit into a two point lead late in the fourth quarter but allowed the Bengals to drive into field goal range and kick the game-winning field goal with :58 left. As the fourth quarter showed, it was an up-and-down game for the Jets – in all three phases of the game.

The defense was dominant at times, especially along the front seven: it registered seven sacks, gave up a run-average of only 3.0 yards, and allowed Cincinnati to convert just 3 of 11 3rd downs. However, despite producing constant pressure, the unit struggled in the passing game, as the secondary was unable to contain the Bengals’ receiving corps.

Neither special teams – kicker Nick Folk missed both a chip-shot field goal and an extra point – nor the team’s offense fared much better as both did look good at times, but were unable to play a consistent game. While the Jets’ running game led by Matt Forte (27 touches, 155 yards from scrimmage) was able to gain 152 of the team’s 340 yards of offense, the passing game led by Ryan Fitzpatrick (19/35, 189 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT) was uneven throughout the day. Consequently, the team was unable to pull away from its opponent despite being in a good position to do so multiple times.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

t-2. Buffalo Bills (0-1)

Week 1: loss (7-13 against the Baltimore Ravens, in Baltimore MD)

The Bills’ first game of the season was a defensive battle – one, that saw the Ravens come out on top. The major reason for that was the team’s inability to consistently move the ball on offense. After the Bills’ first three possessions netted a grand total of two yards, Rex Ryan’s team found itself in a 10-0 hole. At that point, the team put together its best drive of the day: Buffalo marched 75 yards in 12 plays to cut the deficit to three points thanks to a LeSean McCoy (16/58 yds, 1 TD) 1-yard touchdown run.

Entering the second half, the Bills had the momentum on their side but were unable to take advantage. Instead, a promising-looking opening drive ended with a missed field goal attempt. Buffalo never found itself in scoring position again and lost the game by one touchdown. Only one touchdown that is, because despite coming up short in almost every major statistical category, Buffalo was not out of the game until the very end thanks to a solid defensive performance.

The unit gave up 308 yards – mostly between the 20s –, registered four sacks and a fumble recovery, and stifled Baltimore’s ground game at a 3.0 yards average gain per rush. Led by Jerry Hughes’ two sacks, the Bills defense proved why it is projected to be one of the best in the NFL this year – something that cannot be said about Buffalo’s offense.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (15/22, 111 yds) was shaky in his first start after signing a six-year, $92 million contract extension in August. He held the ball too long, his decision-making was questionable and he was unable to put the offense on his back on a day the running game struggled (only 65 yards on 25 carries). The offensive line did not help him either, as it too was shaky – both in passing (four sacks given up) and running situations. Overall, the offense gained a mere 160 yards and 11 first downs, while struggling to sustain drives (3 of 23 on 3rd down). Too little to beat the Ravens.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.