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AFC East Report Week 1: Jets, Dolphins start the 2018 season in impressive fashion

Let’s take a look around the division.

NFL: New York Jets at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The first week of NFL action is in the books and it has been an interesting one for the AFC East. The nine-time reigning division champion New England Patriots, for example, defeated the visiting Houston Texans 27-20. But we are not here to talk about the Patriots – at least not in this article – and instead will focus on the team’s three rivals in the first installment of this year’s AFC East Report.

t-1. Miami Dolphins (1-0)

Week 1: 27-20 win against the Tennessee Titans, in Miami Gardens FL

It took them 7 hours and 8 minutes, but the Miami Dolphins were able to start their 2018 regular season with a win: the team defeated the visiting Tennessee Titans 27-20 in a game that saw two separate weather delays due to lightning in the area – for a total of 3 hours and 59 minutes full of waiting. When the game was actually played, the home team showed plenty of promise at times when going against a 2017 playoff squad.

Miami started the game slowly and gave up a field goal drive on its opening series, before nearly falling behind farther: however, a fourth-down stop inside the 5-yard line left Tennessee without points on its second possession. Instead, the Dolphins were able to go 98 yards on their next possession to take a 7-3 lead on touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill (20/28, 230 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) to Kenny Stills (4 catches/106 yds, 2 TDs).

Midway through the second quarter and shortly after Miami failed to convert on 4th and 1 at the Titans’ 15, the game was interrupted for the first time. It resumed after nearly two hours but in the third quarter – after the teams traded interceptions on two consecutive possessions – had to be stopped again. Two hours and and another interception by the Dolphins defense later, Miami went up 10-3.

Tennessee was able to answer this time: with backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11/22, 117 yds, 1 INT) inserted into the lineup instead of an injured Marcus Mariota (9/16, 103 yds, 2 INTs), the team scored a game-tying touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The tie did not last long, though, as Miami’s Jakeem Grant (2 returns/125 yds, 1 TD) returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown.

After the defense forced another punt, the Dolphins added to their lead thanks to the second scoring pass from Tannehill – in his first game back from injury – to Stills. The 75-yard pass put Miami up 24-10 for a whole 11 seconds. That is how long it took the Titans’ Darius Jennings (2 returns/121 yds, 1 TD) to outrun the kickoff coverage and score a touchdown. The momentum appeared to shift even more to Tennessee after Tannehill’s second pick of the day.

However, Reshad Jones’ (7 tackles, 2 INTs) second interception set up a short field goal that gave Miami a 10-point lead with under four minutes to go. The Titans were only able to generate one more field goal, which is why the Dolphins start the season 1-0.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. New York Jets

Week 1: 48-13 win against the Detroit Lions, in Detroit MI

The Sam Darnold era is off to a good start as the New York Jets blew out the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football 48-13 – not only because of the first-round rookie quarterback, but also due to impressive outings on defense and special teams. However, it appeared to turn into a long night for New York early on as the very first play from scrimmage saw Darnold (16/21, 198 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT) throw a pick-six.

The team did not fare much better on its second series but saw a big special teams play set up its first scoring drive: five plays after a 43-yard punt return by Andre Roberts (3 returns/137 yards, 1 TD), Isaiah Crowell (10 rushes/102 yds, 2 TDs) tied the game. Following a Morris Clayborne (1 INT) interception, the Jets added a field goal to their lead. They had a chance to widen the gap but another interception on the very next drive was fumbled away again by Trumaine Johnson (3 tackles, 1 INT).

Late in the second quarter, however, New York was finally able to add to its lead thanks to Darnold’s first career touchdown pass. The third overall selection of this year’s draft connected with Robby Anderson (1 catch/41 yds, 1 TD) for a 41-yard score to put his team up 17-7. By the time the Jets received the football again, their lead was gone: Detroit scored 10 points before and after the half to tie the game at 17.

However, the close game was blown open by New York in the third quarter thanks to big plays in all three phases: first, Darnold threw a 21-yard touchdown to Quincy Enunwa (6 catches/63 yds, 1 TD). Three play later, Darron Lee (7 tackles, 2 INTs) scored on a 36-yard interception return. Four plays after the pick-six, Roberts had another big punt return and found the end zone from 78 yards out.

In just over two minutes of game time, the Jets turned the contest from a tie into a 38-17 blowout – and they were not done. Following Lee’s second pick, the visitors added a field goal. Detroit, meanwhile, was unable to bounce back and after its second missed kick of the day, saw Crowell add a 62-yard touchdown run. New York’s defense added a fifth interception in the fourth quarter before the game came to an end – a disappointing one for former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, now the Lions’ head coach.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. Buffalo Bills (0-1)

Week 1: 47-3 loss against the Baltimore Ravens, in Baltimore MD

As successful as opening day was for the Dolphins as Jets, as disappointing it turned out for the Buffalo Bills. Coming off their first playoff berth of the century, the team was blown out on the road by the Baltimore Ravens in a game that was never close. The contest started with the Bills’ defense giving up a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive and the offense driving -4 four yards before punting the football away again – a sign of things to come.

Buffalo’s offense was putrid in the first half, while the defense and special teams did little to lift the team: after the Ravens took a 14-0 lead following a 10-play, 66-yard drive, the Bills gave up a 51-yard punt return that set up a field goal. Meanwhile, the team’s offense – led by second-year quarterback Nathan Peterman (5/18, 24 yds, 2 INTs) – continued to struggle and failed to take advantage of a defensive takeaway midway through the second period.

Despite being in field goal range, Buffalo came away empty as a 52-yard Stephen Hauschka (1/2) attempt fell short. Things did not get any better afterwards: a Peterman interception set up another Ravens field goal before the home team was allowed to drive 85 yards in nine plays to bring its lead to 26-0 just right before halftime – two quarters during which the Bills failed to gain even a single first down.

While the unit did that on its first play of the third quarter, things went even further downhill fast: Buffalo was forced to punt again, but former Patriots rookie Corey Bojorquez fumbled the football which set up Baltimore in prime field position. Four plays later, the Ravens led 33-0. Three plays after that, Peterman threw his second interception of the game – a pick that was returned to the 1-yard line. Unsurprisingly, Baltimore scored one play later.

Down 40-0 early in the second half, the Bills inserted first-round rookie Josh Allen (6/15, 74 yds) into its offense – but the improvements were only marginal. Allen did, however, lead the team to a field goal on his second drive. Overall, though, Buffalo continued to struggle mightily and finished the game with only 153 yards of offense. A disappointing performance coming off a playoff appearance.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.