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AFC East Report week 9: Terrible offensive performances again cost Bills and Jets

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Notes from around the division.

Chicago Bears v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

We are past the halfway point of the 2018 regular season and the AFC East is shaping up as a one-team affair at the top, with a second trying to earn a wild card playoff spot. The only race teams number three and four are currently in, meanwhile, is the one for the number one pick in next year’s draft. Before getting ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take a look at this week’s edition of the AFC East Report:

1. New England Patriots (7-2)

Week 9: 31-17 win against the Green Bay Packers, in Foxboro MA

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. Miami Dolphins (5-4)

Week 9: 13-6 win against the New York Jets, in Miami Gardens FL

Coming off back-to-back losses, the Miami Dolphins are back above .500 thanks to a hard-fought 13-6 win against the New York Jets — one that happened mostly because of a solid defensive performance: Miami did not give up a touchdown, registered four takeaways and two fourth down stops, and gave up just 282 yards of offense (for comparison, the team’s own offense gained just 168 yards). Furthermore, the unit outscored the offense.

The game started with a 26-yard pass from Brock Osweiler (15/24, 139 yds), who again filled in for an injured Ryan Tannehill, to ex-Patriot Danny Amendola (5/47 yds) but quickly saw the defenses take over: the first five drives of the game all ended in punts, the sixth one with an interception by the Dolphins defense. Linebacker Kiko Alonso (7 TKLs, 1 INT) undercut a pass to register a pick that set up a 43-yard Jason Sanders (2/2) field goal.

After the score, the game went back to being a defensive one. Four straight punts later, it was the Dolphins who added to the the scoreboard again as Sanders’ second field goal — this one from 27-yard out — put Miami up 6-0. This time, the Jets were able to respond and the contest headed into half time with the visitors up 6-3. It would take until the fourth period for the score to change again.

The second half opened with a string of five punts interrupted by a missed New York field goal. However, early in the fourth quarter, rookie linebacker Jerome Baker (5 TKLs, 1 INT) registered the Dolphins’ second interception of the day — one he returned 25 yards to the end zone for the game’s first and only touchdown. However, a Jets field goal on the very next drive cut the lead to seven points again with six minutes left to go.

While Miami’s offense failed to ice the contest, its defense did all it could to secure the victory as it registered interceptions on both New York drives after the aforementioned field goal. First, T.J. McDonald (9 TKLs, 1 INT) had a pick, then Walt Aikens (1 INT) had another one to give the Dolphins defense its fourth turnover of the day and the team as a whole its fifth victory of the year.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. New York Jets (3-6)

Week 9: 13-6 loss against the Miami Dolphins, in Miami Gardens FL

The New York Jets started the season 3-3 but have since suffered three straight defeats — the latest of which coming at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. Once again, it was the team’s offense that needs to carry the bulk of the blame. Led by Sam Darnold (21/39, 229 yds, 4 INTs) and his four turnovers, the unit scored just two field goals and went 2 of 15 on third and fourth down attempts. If not for their defense, the Jets would not have been in the game for as long as they were.

The game started as a defensive affair, with neither team being able to generate much offense in the early first quarter. The game’s first big play was made by the New York offense — but for all the wrong reasons: Darnold threw an interception on a pass intended for fellow rookie Deontay Burnett. The pick set up Miami in Jets territory and ultimately led to the game’s first score, a 43-yard field goal.

New York’s offense continued to struggle as the unit did not reach scoring territory until there was less than one minute remaining in the first half. At that point, the Jets were already down 6-0 and had four punts and a giveaway on their offensive résumé. However, a 48-yard Jason Myers (2/3) field goal allowed the team to cut its deficit to three points at intermission.

Coming out of the half, the story was more of the same. While New York’s defense delivered stops, the offense failed to take any advantage: after two more punts, Myers missed a 50-yard field goal attempt. On the very next Jets possession, Darnold then threw a pick-six to put his team down 10 points. A 56-yard field goal on the next drive made it a one-score game again, but the Jets offense was now in a do-or-die situation.

It did not make it. While the Jets offense received two opportunities to at least tie the game inside of six minutes left in the fourth quarter, it was unable to get anything going. Instead, Darnold threw two more interceptions to effectively seal the game for New York’s opponent.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. Buffalo Bills (2-7)

Week 9: 41-9 loss against the Chicago Bears, in Orchard Park NY

After their Monday night loss against the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills suffered a defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bears — their fourth straight and second in a row at home. Once again, the story of the day for Buffalo was the offense’s inability to get into any rhythm and take care of the football. Even though the defense played a solid statistical game (it gave up just 11 first downs and 190 yards), the team therefore was blown out.

The contest started slowly with neither team being able to penetrate the opposing defense. After a scoreless first quarter, however, the floodgates opened. After the Bears scored a touchdown early in the second period, Buffalo tight end Jason Croom (3/36 yds) lost a fumble that was picked up by Chicago and returned 65 yards for another score. Two plays later, Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman (31/49, 189 yds, 3 INTs) threw his first interception of the day.

While this pick did not hurt the home team — the Bears went three-and-out and had to punt —, the next one did: Peterman’s interception on the next Bills possession was taken back 19 yards to the end zone to put the visitors up 21-0. The second quarter was not over yet, though, and saw Chicago score a fourth time; two plays after Buffalo’s special teams units gave up a 36-yard punt return.

Down 28-0 at the half, the Bills finally were able to get on the scoreboard early in the third period thanks to a 41-yard Stephen Hauschka (1/1) field goal. Not every team is able to come back from being down 25 in the third quarter, however, and Buffalo surrendered another score — a 23-yard field goal — on the very next drive. Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White (3 TKLs, 1 INT) then registered an interception on Chicago’s next possession but his team again failed to take advantage.

Instead, the team had two more turnovers: first it failed to convert a fourth down in Bears territory, then Peterman threw his seventh interception of the season. Four plays after the pick, Chicago added another field goal to its lead. But while Peterman scored on a one-yard run on the next possession, it did little to change the optics of the blowout as the Bears added one final touchdown to win the game 41-9.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.