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AFC East Report: Bills are still the second best team in the conference after Week 7

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Let’s take a look at what happened in the division this week.

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the 2019 regular season, the AFC East remains one of the best conferences in the NFL at the top and one of the worst at the bottom. All in all, the four teams combine for a 13-12 record — making it the third most successful division in the league at this point. With all that in mind, let’s find out what happened over the last weekend in the latest edition of the AFC East Report.

1. New England Patriots (7-0)

Week 7: 33-0 win against the New York Jets, in East Rutherford NJ

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. Buffalo Bills (5-1)

Week 7: 31-21 win against the Miami Dolphins, in Orchard Park NY

The Buffalo Bills remain in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot six games into their season, and following a 31-21 victory over the Dolphins — a game that was closer than many had anticipated heading into the weekend. Head coach Sean McDermott’s team, after all, had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in order to defeat the still winless visitors and celebrate their fifth game of the season.

The contest started well for the home team, though, as the Bills were able to jump to a 6-0 lead after scoring a pair of Stephen Hauschka field goals on their first two possessions. The inability to finish drives with touchdowns, however, allowed Miami to take a 7-6 lead early in the second period. Buffalo replied with another field goal drive to retake the lead, but ultimately fell behind 14-9 after its defense surrendered another 75-yard touchdown drive.

Entering the third quarter down by five points, the Bills’ defense again allowed its opponent to go on a long march down the field — one that took almost 10 minutes off the clock and also saw the Dolphins convert a 4th and 1 on a fake field goal. However, Buffalo made back-to-back big plays after that fourth down: first, Jordan Phillips registered a 10-yard sack on 1st and goal from the 2-yard line; then, cornerback Tre’Davious White intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick to end the series.

White’s interception was a major momentum shift in the Bills’ favor. Not only did it stop Miami from possibly taking a two-score lead midway through the third period, it also set up a 98-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 20-yard pass from Josh Allen to John Brown. With the subsequent two-point attempt — a designed quarterback run — also being successful, Buffalo suddenly found itself up 17-14.

The defense also held on the next drive, and made another huge play one series later when White forced a fumble that was returned to the Miami 11-yard line by Jerry Hughes. Three plays after the takeaway, a 3-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Cole Beasley gave the home team a 10-point lead. Miami, however, was still in the game after scoring another touchdown to come within three points.

With only 1:45 on the clock and the team out of timeouts, however, it had to try its luck on an onside kick. While a simple recovery would have done it, Bills safety Micah Hyde caught the kick and returned it 45-yards for a touchdown to seal his team’s fifth win of the season.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. New York Jets (1-5)

Week 7: 33-0 loss against the New England Patriots, in East Rutherford NJ

Final Score: Patriots 33, Jets 0

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. Miami Dolphins (0-6)

Week 7: 31-21 loss against the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park NY

The Miami Dolphins remain winless and in prime position to earn a top-three draft pick next year, but they certainly gave the Bills all they could handle on Sunday. The team of first-year head coach and former Patriots defensive play caller Brian Flores went toe-for-toe with Buffalo on the road, and arguably played its best game of the season — even though the contest ultimately ended with a final score of 31-21 in the Bills’ favor.

Miami started the game slowly but was able to get some solid production out of its third down defense early on. As a result, the team held its opponent to two field goals on its first two possessions. Down 6-0, the Dolphins — again led by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in place of Josh Rosen, who was benched last week — finally found their offensive rhythm and drove 75 yards in eight plays to take the lead on a 3-yard run by Kalen Ballage.

While Buffalo answered with another field goal, the visitors were able to regain the lead on the next drive: Fitzpatrick again drove the offense 75 yards, with the final 12 covered by a touchdown pass to DeVante Parker. Even though the team was unable to increase the lead before the half, Miami headed into the locker room with momentum on its side and the knowledge that the second half kickoff would sail its way.

Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Dolphins drove deep into Bills territory again on the first drive of the third quarter. However, the series stalled at the 4-yard line — or so it seemed: Miami sent out its field goal unit but Matt Haack took off with the football instead of holding it, and gained two yards to earn the team a new set of downs. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, they were unable to do anything with it.

After Fitzpatrick was sacked for a 10-yard loss on 1st and goal, the veteran passer threw an interception. To make matters worse, the defense then surrendered a 98-yard touchdown drive and ensuing two-point attempt that gave the Bills a 17-14 lead in the early fourth quarter. The Dolphins’ miscues continued two possessions later, when rookie wide receiver Preston Williams lost a fumble that was picked up by Buffalo and returned to the Miami 11-yard line.

Three plays later, Miami faced a 10-point deficit. While the team did score another touchdown late in the fourth quarter — an 11-yard scramble by Fitzpatrick — the club had to attempt an onside kick in order to stay in the game. The kick was recovered by Buffalo to effectively end the game, and returned 45-yards for a score to add insult to injury. Thus, the Dolphins remain winless heading into their Week 8 meeting with the 2-4 Pittsburgh Steelers.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.