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AFC East Report week 12: Patriots’ division lead increases thanks to Dolphins collapse in Indianapolis

Notes from around the division.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After the entire AFC East enjoyed its bye in week 11, the four teams were back at it on Sunday — and it was an uneven won for the division: while two squads secured victories against mediocre-at-best opposition, two others were defeated. Let’s find out what happened in this week’s edition of the AFC East Report:

1. New England Patriots (8-3)

Week 12: 27-13 win against the New York Jets, in East Rutherford NJ

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Rob Gronkowski plays 69 snaps in his return because of course he does

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. Miami Dolphins (5-6)

Week 12: 27-24 loss against the Indianapolis Colts, in Indianapolis IN

For the first time all season, the Miami Dolphins have fallen below .500 and they did so despite controlling their game against the Indianapolis Colts for most of the first three quarters. However, a late-game collapse sealed the team’s fate and ended with its second straight defeat — one that hurts Miami in the race for not only the AFC East title but more realistically the one for a wild card playoff spot.

With Ryan Tannehill (17/25, 204 yds, 2 TDs) back in the lineup after a five-game absence, the team’s offense started well into the game. The unit went 75 yards in just six plays to go up 7-0 thanks to a touchdown pass from the quarterback to running back Kenyan Drake (13 touches/96 yds, 2 TDs). The lead did not live long, however, as Miami’s defense allowed the Colts to tie the game in just five plays.

What began as an offensive bonanza quickly turned into a defensive affair — with Miami making a big play on a fumble recovery by safety T.J. McDonald (11 TKLs, 1 FR). Despite the solid field position, the Dolphins failed to take the lead again. Instead, they had to watch the Colts go up 14-7 late in the second quarter. The touchdown kicked off an eventful two minutes of play that saw two total scores and turnovers.

Only two plays after Indianapolis’ touchdown, the game was tied once more as Tannehill hit wide receiver Leonte Carroo on a 74-yard pass (1/74 yds, 1 TD). On the very next play from scrimmage, Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (5 TKLs, 2 INTs) registered an interception. One play later, the team turned the football over again on a fumble by tight end Mike Gesicki (1/5 yds). Just one play after that, the Dolphins had the football again as Howard registered his second pick in a three-play span.

After a wild two-minute warning and subsequent halftime, it was Miami that went up 17-14 on a Jason Sanders (1/1) field goal — one preceded by a partially blocked Indianapolis punt. After a Colts field goal attempt came up short on the very the next series, the Dolphins added to their lead when Drake found the end zone from 14 yards out. Indianapolis made it a one-possession game again on the following drive thanks to a 46-yard field goal.

With almost nine minutes left in the game and up one touchdown, the Dolphins went conservative and as a result of it three-and-out. Indianapolis tied the game on the next possession and, following another three-and-out by Miami’s offense, was able to win on a last-second field goal — erasing a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and potentially the Dolphins’ playoff hopes.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Buffalo Bills (4-7)

Week 12: 24-21 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in Orchard Park NY

For the first time this season, the Buffalo Bills were able to win two games in a row — the second of victories coming against a wildly dysfunctional Jacksonville Jaguars team that is falling apart one year after making it to the AFC Championship Game. Buffalo was able to defeat the visitors thanks to a strong defensive performance and an efficient offensive attack that was led by quarterback Josh Allen (8/19, 160 yds, 1 TD) in his first game since week six.

The two teams, both sitting at 3-7 entering Sunday, exchanged punts before the Bills scored the game’s first points: wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (4 touches/19 yds, 1 TD) found the end zone from six yards out to give his team a 7-0 lead. On its very next possession, the home team added seven more points to its total when Allen connected with rookie receiver Robert Foster (2/94 yds, 1 TD) on a 75-yard catch-and-run score.

This time, however, the Jaguars were able to answer and needed just two drives and a Bills three-and-out to tie the game at 14. Jacksonville came close to getting into scoring range again on its next possession but an interception by Bills linebacker Matt Milano (3 TKLS, 1 INT) ensured that his team would not head into the locker room facing a deficit. Instead, the Bills and Jaguars were tied at 14-14 at the half.

Coming out of intermission, the contest turned into a defensive battle with neither team being able to consistently move the football down the field. The biggest play was made by Jacksonville but a would-be 30-yard touchdown pass was ruled short of the end zone. What followed was a terrific goal line stand by Buffalo’s defense: facing a 1st and goal from the 1-yard line, the Bills, aided by two penalties, drove the Jaguars back to the 24-yard line.

The ensuing 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. Just three plays later, Buffalo added insult to injury by scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run by Allen. The Bills’ defense continued to hold afterwards and registered another interception — safety Jordon Poyer (10 TKLs, 1 INT) came up with the pick — to set up a field goal. While the Jaguars cut into the home team’s lead late in the fourth period it was not enough to change the game’s outcome.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (3-8)

Week 12: 27-13 loss against the New England Patriots, in East Rutherford NJ

Notes from Gang Green Nation:

Final Score: Patriots 27, Jets 13

Patriots 27 Jets 13: Overmatched

Podcast: Jets lose to the Patriots

Jets Week 12 Anti-Game Ball: Front Seven

To watch highlights of the game, click here.