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AFC East Report: Week 3

Week 3 is in the books; here is how it went for the Patriots’ divisional rivals.

Last Thursday, the New England Patriots improved to 3-0 with a 27-0 blowout of the Houston Texans. The win solidified the team’s standing atop the AFC East - as did Sunday’s games.

Let’s take a look at this week’s AFC East report.

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

Week 3: loss (3-24 against the Kansas City Chiefs, in Kansas City MO)

The NFL’s website has a clip of the Jets’ week three game online, which includes nine scenes of the team being in possession of the football. Eight of the nine scenes concluded with the Kansas City Chiefs either being in possession of the ball or having just scored. In short: turnovers were the story of the game for the Jets, who fall to 1-2 mainly due to their inability to hold onto the football.

New York was able to move the ball early in the game but could simply not avoid shooting itself in the foot – forcing the team in an early hole it could not get out of. The first of six interceptions thrown by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (20/44, 188 yds, 6 INTs) led to the first touchdown of the game, a fumble by running back Bilal Powell (4/30 yds) on the next drive to a field goal and the subsequent kickoff was caught and fumbled by wideout Jalin Marshall (2/19 yds) and returned by the Chiefs for a score.

The Jets finally got on the board late in the first half – entering the locker room down 17-3. Only down two touchdowns, New York was still in the game. However, Fitzpatrick ending each of the Jets’ final five drives with an interception, one of which was returned for the lone second-half touchdown, destroyed any hopes for a comeback. As did the fact that three of his six picks took place in Kansas City’s endzone after promising drives by the team.

As pathetic as the Jets’ ball security was, the team lost by "only" three touchdowns – mainly because of solid defensive play. The unit allowed Kansas City to gain only 293 yards, being particularly stout against the run (2.7 yards per carry, six tackles for loss). In the end, though, New York’s defensive work was too little to overcome the miscues on offense and special teams.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

t-2. Miami Dolphins (1-2)

Week 3: win (30-24 in overtime against the Cleveland Browns, in Miami Gardens FL)

It took the Dolphins 66:34 to get their first win of the season – but get their first win of the season they did. The team was able to best the visiting Cleveland Browns thanks to an 11-yard Jay Ajayi (7/28 yds, 1 TD) touchdown run on Miami’s second possession of overtime. To get to the fifth quarter, the Dolphins benefitted from a missed 46-yard Browns field goal by the end of regulation, when the two teams were tied at 24.

The missed kick, which itself was the result of a lost fumble by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (25/39, 315 yds, 3 TDs, 2 INTs), is a perfect example for what has been a sloppy game by both teams. Tannehill’s first passing attempt was intercepted, while the Browns lost a fumble on the very next drive. Overall, the two teams combined to turn the ball over four times (Dolphins 3, Browns 1) while both struggled with penalties (Dolphins 8, Browns 13) and sustaining offensive possessions (Dolphins 2/10 on 3rd down, Browns 4/15).

Miami started the game with a 7-0 lead thanks to a DeVante Parker (3/51 yds, 1 TD) 26-yard touchdown catch. However, Cleveland – led by first-time starting quarterback Cody Kessler (21/33, 244 yds) – eventually started to get into a better rhythm. Thus, the Dolphins found themselves in a 13-10 hole entering halftime; a major reason for that was a pick-6 off Ryan Tannehill. The second half started better for Miami, which scored 14 consecutive points before allowing the Browns to tie the game at 24.

While the Dolphins won their first game of the season, it was not exactly a triumphant victory; Miami struggled with consistency on both sides of the football. The team gained 426 yards of offense but held the ball eight minutes less than the opponent. It amassed four sacks and a fumble recovery, but did neither stop the run nor the pass effectively throughout the game. In the end, though, a win is a win is a win.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

t-2. Buffalo Bills (1-2)

Week 3: win (33-18 against the Arizona Cardinals, in Orchard Park NY)

The Buffalo Bills registered their first win of the season in resounding fashion. Rex Ryan’s squad was able to blow out the visiting Arizona Cardinals 33-18, thanks to a dominant running game and an efficient and opportunistic defensive performance. Thus, the game felt never really as close as the final two-score point-difference might indicate.

While the Bills’ offense was unable to gain much the first two drives, it picked up steam midway through the first quarter to jump to a 10-0 lead. Strong running by quarterback Tyrod Taylor (14/25, 119 yds, 1 INT; 9/76 yds, 1 TD) and LeSean McCoy (17/110, 2 TDs) helped turn momentum Buffalo’s way early in the contest. As did a dominating defensive effort: the Bills forced five consecutive 3-and-outs to start the game. By the time Arizona was on the board late in the first half, Buffalo was already up 17-0.

The team kept its foot on the gase in the third quarter, starting with the sixth forced 3-and-out, followed by a 20-yard Taylor touchdown run and a blocked Arizona field goal attempt that was returned for a score by safety Aaron Williams. At this point late in quarter three, the Bills led 30-7. While Arizona finally began finding some offensive rhythm in the fourt quarter and started to slow down Buffalo’s ground game, four consecutive interceptions thrown by Carson Palmer (26/50, 287 yds, 4 INTs) halted any hope of a comeback. Therefore, both teams are now 1-2.

To get to this record, the Bills used some good old ‘ground and pound’-football. The team rushed for 208 yards and three scores on 32 carries (6.5 yds/carry), while the defense registered five turnovers and stifled the Cardinals’ normally potent unit in the first half. This recipe worked for Rex Ryan-coached teams in the past and it also worked against Arizona. It remains to be seen if it does the same when the Bills visit New England on Sunday.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.