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AFC East Report week 13: Dolphins beat Bills to return to .500; Jets are headed for a top-five draft pick

Notes from around the division.

NFL: New York Jets at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-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 (9-3)

Week 13: 24-10 win against the Minnesota Vikings, in Foxboro MA

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. Miami Dolphins (6-6)

Week 13: 21-17 win against the Buffalo Bills, in Miami Gardens FL

After two straight losses that brought a losing record upon them for the first time all season, the Miami Dolphins are back at .500 — and still very much alive in the race for a postseason spot — thanks to a hard-fought win over the Buffalo Bills. Despite the visitors gaining almost 250 more yards of offense, Miami was able to hold onto the win behind an opportunistic defense and an offensive excellent performance in the red zone.

The game started in the best possible fashion for the Dolphins, as they received the opening kickoff and marched right down the field. 10 plays and 75 yards later, the team scored its first touchdown of the day on an 18-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill (16/24, 137, 3 TDs, 1 INT) to DeVante Parker (4/43 yds, 1 TD). Miami’s defense also started well into the contest and allowed the team to stay on top 7-0 until early in the second quarter.

At that point, the Bills scored their first touchdown but failed to hit the extra point. Miami’s offense, meanwhile was having a hard time against a solid Buffalo defense — and needed a little help before its next score: late in the second quarter, the Bills muffed a punt that was recovered by Dolphins running back Senorise Perry (1 FR). Six plays after the takeaway, Tannehill connected with Kenyan Drake (9 touches/45 yds, 1 TD) to put his team up 14-6.

While a Bills Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half landed the arms of cornerback Xavien Howard (4 TKLs, 2 INTs), the visitors were able to cut into their deficit by scoring a field goal on the third quarter’s opening possession. At that point, the defenses took center stage again: they forced three straight punts before a series of turnovers. First, Howard registered his second pick of the day. Only one play later, Tannehill also threw an interception.

Buffalo turned its takeaway into its first lead of the day, thanks to a touchdown and successful subsequent two-point attempt. Down three early in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins offense came to life again: the unit marched 75 yards in six plays to re-take the lead on a pass from Tannehill to Kenny Stills (4/37 yds, 1 TD). Buffalo had two more drives to go on top again but Miami’s defense held twice to preserve the victory.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Buffalo Bills (4-8)

Week 13: 21-17 loss against the Miami Dolphins, in Miami Gardens FL

Coming off back-to-back victories, the Buffalo Bills were clearly trending up heading into their week 13 game in Miami. However, the team took another step back and was beaten 21-17 by the Dolphins — despite dominating the opponent in almost every major statistical category. However, Buffalo simply was unable to overcome its errors and as a result will finish without a winning record for the 16th time this century.

The Bills started the contest on defense and immediately had to give up a long touchdown drive to the Dolphins. Their own offense, meanwhile, was slow out of the gate and needed until the early second quarter to finally get going — but going it got and went 55 yards in nine plays to score Buffalo’s first six points of the game: Josh Allen (18/33, 231 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) hit Zay Jones (4/67 yds, 2 TDs) for a touchdown.

However, Steven Hauschka’s (1/2 FG, 0/1 XP) extra point sailed wide left and the Bills found themselves down one after their first score of the day. That deficit would soon grow to eight points: after a muffed punt by returnman Isaiah McKenzie (3/31 yds) was recovered by the Dolphins, the home team scored its second touchdown. The Bills had a minute left in the first half to respond but ultimately failed as Allen’s Hail Mary pass was intercepted.

The third quarter started better for Buffalo. The team quickly drove into scoring range and cut its deficit to five points on a 32-yard Hauschka field goal. However, any momentum the Bills appeared to have at that point was lost again when Allen threw his second pick of the day. Luckily for Buffalo, the Dolphins returned the favor just one play later and threw an interception to safety Micah Hyde (4 TKLs, 1 INT).

Buffalo was able to turn Hyde’s pick into a 6-play, 83-yard touchdown drive that was capped by Allen’s second scoring pass to Jones. The team successfully added a two-point try — another Allen-Jones connection — to take a 17-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. However, a Bills defense that had been relatively stout up until this point allowed Miami to re-take the lead on the very next drive.

Sean McDermott’s team answered by driving into scoring range again but Hauschka missed another kick, this time from 55 yards away. The Bills came close to scoring one more time but a desperation fourth down pass attempt from Allen to Charles Clay (1/9 yds) did not quite reach the intended target and ultimately sealed the game in the home team’s favor.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (3-9)

Week 13: 26-22 loss against the Tennessee Titans, in Nashville TN

The New York Jets looked ready to put an end to their five-game losing streak in week 13 against the Tennessee Titans. The team jumped to an early lead and held onto it... until there were only 34 seconds left on the clock. Once again the Jets’ offense is the primary reason for the team’s sixth loss in a row — the longest such streak in the league: the unit was unable to finish drives, which allowed the Titans to get back into the game.

New York opened the game on defense and forced a quick three-and-out. The following possession led to the team’s first points off a 54-yard Jason Myers (5/5 FG, 1/1 XP) field goal. Three plays later, the Jets would add to their lead courtesy of their defense: cornerback Trumaine Johnson (3 TKLs, 1 INT) recorded an interception and returned it 31 yards to the end zone to give New York a 10-0 lead.

The Jets added a field goal early in the second quarter, before a big special teams play led to another score: linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (1 BLK) blocked a punt and recovered the loose ball to set up Myers’ third field goal of the day. Down 16-0, the home team finally got its offense going and drove to a touchdown late in the first half. However, the ensuing extra point attempt was also blocked by New York’s kicking game unit.

Coming out of halftime, the Jets added to their lead on their second possession when Myers hit his fourth field goal attempt. Tennessee, however, answered in style and drove to another touchdown to cut New York’s lead to six points. A 15-play, 55-yard drive later, it was back at nine again: once more Myers turned a missed scoring opportunity into a field goal. The Titans then needed until midway through the fourth quarter to respond.

While New York’s offense continued to be inconsistent, Tennessee got into a rhythm and scored field goals on back-to-back fourth period drives. The Jets had a chance to ice the game after the second of the kicks but failed to do so despite two opportunities. Instead, Todd Bowles’ team had to watch the Titans go on one final scoring drive that ended with a touchdown and put New York down 26-22 with 36 seconds left.

The Jets’ subsequent attempt at a game-tying drive lasted just two plays: quarterback Josh McCown (17/30, 128 yds, 1 INT) threw a game-sealing interception. As a result of the loss, New York dropped to 3-9 and is now tied for the third-worst record in the NFL. It appears as if the club is once again heading towards a top-five draft pick.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.