The 2017 NFL season is underway and it started with a surprising home loss by the defending world champion New England Patriots last Thursday. Due to a late-game collapse, the team fell to the visiting Kansas City Chiefs 42-27 and will now start the year with an 0-1 record and third place in the AFC East.
Let's take a look at how that happened in this year's first installment of the AFC East Report.
1. Buffalo Bills (1-0)
Week 1: win (21-12 against the New York Jets, in Orchard Park NY)
For the first time since week 2 of the 2014 season, the Buffalo Bills are in sole first place in the division. The team was able to accomplish that by playing sound and opportunistic football on the defensive side of the ball while simultaneously controlling the game via its offense. As a result, Buffalo held the ball for over 33 minutes while outgaining the visiting New York Jets 408 to 214.
The game started with the Bills receiving the opening kickoff and driving the ball to the Jets' 8-yard line on 12 plays. However, an endzone interception following a tipped pass by quarterback Tyrod Taylor (16/28, 224 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT) destroyed the home team's chances of coming away with points on its oppening possession. Ultimately, however, the Bills were still able to take the lead.
Early in the second quarter, set up by a 23-yard LeSean McCoy (22/110 yds) run, Taylor found tight end Charles Clay (4/53 yds, 1 TD) in the endzone to give Buffalo a 7-0 lead. Buffalo, however, allowed two consecutive field goal drives that brought the Jets within one point at halftime while missing a 46-yard field goal attempt in between. Buffalo was able to expand its lead to eight thanks to Taylor's second scoring pass of the day, this one to former Patriot Andre Holmes (1/1 yd, 1 TD).
On the very next drive, New York came close to tying the game but Buffalo's defense stopped the Jets' two-point attempt and the score remained at 14-12 in the Bills' favor. One drive later, it was 21-12: Fullback Mike Tolbert (12/42 yds, 1 TD) scored from one yard out. With almost 13 minutes left in the contest, it was the Bills' defense that secured the win: The unit came up with two late takeaways to keep the score at 21-12.
Due to the victory, Buffalo now sits atop the AFC East with a trip to the 1-0 Carolina Panthers on the horizon.
To watch highlights of the game, click here.
2. Miami Dolphins (0-0)
Week 1: bye
The Dolphins' week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was cancelled and rescheduled to week 11, the two teams' original bye, due to Hurricane Irma.
t-3. New York Jets (0-1)
Week 2: loss (21-12 against the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park NY)
The Jets opened their season against one of their AFC East rivals, on the road against the Buffalo Bills. New York, which was seen as an offseason candidate to earn the first overall pick in next year's draft, played a competitive game but ultimately ran out of gas down the line as shortcomings especially on the offensive side of the football became apparent against an opportunistic Bills defense.
Overall, the game started well for the Jets even though the home team quickly took the opening possession to the red area: Cornerback Juston Burris intercepted a pass and was able to return it 48 yards. Despite solid field position, however, New York was unable to advance any further and went three-and-out. Third downs in general were an issue for the team on Sunday as the Jets only converted four of its 14 attempts.
New York failed to move anywhere on its next possessions as well and had to watch the home team drive 77 yards on 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Jets responded with two consecutive scoring drives, each capped by a Chandler Catanzaro (2/2) field goal. After halftime, which Todd Bowles' team entered down 7-6, the Jets' fell behind by eight points. On the next drive, however, the Jets came close to tying the game.
After a reversed touchdown catch set up the team on the 1-yard line, a fourth-down sneak by quarterback Jets McCown (23/39, 187 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs) set up a two-point attempt. Howver, McCown's pass was tipped and intercepted and the score remained at 14-12. It was the last time New York was within striking distance as the Bills increased their lead to nine points on the very next drive.
The Jets were unable to respond as two of their final four possessions ended with interceptions, while the other two ended by punts. Thus, New York starts the season with an 0-1 record before a trip to the 1-0 Oakland Raiders.
To watch highlights of the game, click here.