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AFC East Report: Bills and Jets celebrate blowout wins in Week 12

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

Denver Broncos v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The NFL’s regular season is 12 weeks old, and it becomes increasingly likely that the AFC East will send more than one team to the postseason for just the seventh time since the league changed its divisional alignment in 2002. Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, however, let’s instead find out what happened this weekend in the latest edition of the AFC East Report.

1. New England Patriots (10-1)

Week 12: 13-9 win against the Dallas Cowboys, in Foxborough MA

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. Buffalo Bills (8-3)

Week 12: 20-3 win against the Denver Broncos, in Orchard Park NY

After two straight road games, the Buffalo Bills returned home to Orchard Park to take on a visiting Denver Broncos team that had won just three games entering the game. Seeing Buffalo emerge victoriously from the contest was therefore the expected outcome, and the Bills delivered: the defense clamped down on its opponent, while the offense and special teams units also performed well en route to a 20-3 victory.

Buffalo elected to kick off to start the game, and started somewhat slowly on defense by allowing the Broncos to quickly cross midfield. The series eventually stalled, however, and the team’s offense responded with a massive 17-play drive that covered 69 yards and took almost nine minutes off the clock before Stephen Hauschka kicked a 39-yard field goal to give the Bills a 3-0 lead in the late first quarter.

Following a three-and-out by the Broncos and a muffed but ultimately recovered punt, Buffalo’s offense went on another long drive — a 12-play, 87-yard series that ultimately ended with Hauschka’s second field goal of the day. Denver finally got some momentum back on the Bills’ next possession, when the defense intercepted quarterback Josh Allen and set its offense up near midfield with four minutes left in the half.

However, the team failed to capitalize on the turnover despite initially moving the ball well. Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White picked off the Broncos’ Brandon Allen in the red zone to preserve the 6-0 shutdown at halftime. Coming out of intermission, Buffalo continued its strong play after a short kickoff that set the team up at its own 41-yard line: driving 59 yards in eight plays, Allen connected with Cole Beasley to cap the series with the game’s first touchdown.

This time, however, the Broncos were able to answer at least somewhat appropriately and scored their first points on a 45-yard field goal. But despite the kick and the defense stopping Buffalo quickly on its next drive, the home team remained in control of the game with the team’s own defense forcing five straight three-and-outs to end the contest. Along the way, Allen and wide receiver John Brown connected for another touchdown form 34-yards out to put the finishing touches on the win.

With the victory, Buffalo remains the front-runner to earn one of the two wild-card spots in the AFC’s playoff picture. However, the toughest part of the team’s challenge awaits as four playoff competitors are on the schedule over the next four weeks: the Bills will visit the Dallas Cowboys before hosting the Baltimore Ravens and traveling to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Patriots in back-to-back weeks.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. New York Jets (4-7)

Week 12: 34-3 win against the Oakland Raiders, in East Rutherford NJ

Following a slow start to their season, the once 1-7 New York Jets have rebounded nicely and entered Week 12 with back-to-back victories under their belt for the first time since last October. That was not all, though: despite going against an Oakland Raiders team that was in the playoff race at 6-4, the Jets added a third straight win — the organization’s first winning streak of that kind since the early 2017 season — in dominant fashion.

Things did not look rosy for the team early on, however, as the Raiders received the opening kickoff and marched 46 yards in 11 plays to take a 3-0 lead. The Jets, however, bounced back by scoring a field goal of their own: after driving 69 yards in nine plays — including a touchdown nullified by penalty — kicker Sam Ficken hit a 24-yarder to tie the game at three. It was the last time the game truly would be a close affair.

Following an Oakland punt to cap the next drive, the Jets took over at their own 4-yard line and embarked on a massive series that took more than seven minutes off the clock and ended with the game’s first touchdown: on the 12th and final play of the drive, Sam Darnold scrambled to his right from four yards out into the end zone. The Raiders failed to reply to the score despite moving into field goal range, as a 43-yard attempt sailed wide to the left.

The miss gave New York solid field position and the team took advantage with Ficken kicking his second field goal of the day to put his team up 13-3. The first-year Jet had a chance to add to his team’s lead later in the first half but also missed to the left from 48 yards out. Gang Green therefore headed into the locker rooms up by 10 points — a lead that would increase on just the fifth play of the third quarter.

After a 69-yard catch-and-run by former Patriot Braxton Berrios set up New York at the Oakland 1-yard line, Darnold connected with tight end Ryan Griffin to give the home team a 20-3 lead that prompted the Raiders to attempt a 4th and 1 on their next possession. The Jets’ defense stepped up and forced a turnover on downs on a rushing attempt for no gain, setting up the offense at the Oakland 39. Four plays later, it was in the end zone again.

This time, Darnold hit wide receiver Robby Anderson from a yard away after the veteran pass catcher already caught a 30-yard pass earlier during the series. Down 27-3 at that point, the Raiders began to unravel: quarterback Derek Carr was intercepted by cornerback Brian Poole on the very first play from scrimmage after Anderson’s touchdown, and Poole went on to return the pick 15 yards for another score.

Oakland was unable to bounce back, and later even benched Carr in the late third quarter. The two teams ended the game by exchanging punts on eight straight drives.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. Miami Dolphins (2-9)

Week 12: 41-24 loss against the Cleveland Browns, in Cleveland OH

The Miami Dolphins won back-to-back games after their 0-7, but have since returned to their early-season form with two straight 17-point losses against the Bills in Week 11 and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The game in Cleveland was, by all accounts, a bad one for the team of first-year head coach Brian Flores: Miami trailed 28-0 in the late first half, and never was able to get itself out of this early hole despite a rally in the third quarter.

The game started accordingly: Cleveland received the opening kickoff and marched right down the field to take a 7-0 lead to which Miami’s offense responded with a three-and-out. While the team’s defense also forced a punt on the next drive, Ryan Fitzpatrick and company again failed to get going and instead had to leave the field again after three more plays, setting up another touchdown drive by the Browns.

Down 14-0 in the late first period, Miami was able to gain its first first down of the day only to turn the football over on downs after a fake punt on 4th and 7. The Browns, starting at the Dolphins’ 44-yard line, went on another scoring drive — one that covered just six plays and put the home team up 21-0. Miami’s offense answered with another bad series: despite driving into field goal range, the club came away empty-handed after a Fitzpatrick interception.

The Browns capitalized on the turnover by driving 73 yards in nine plays and increasing their lead to 28-0. With a minute left in the first half, Miami went into hurry-up mode and finally found some success: the team went 63 yards in eight plays, before Jason Sanders kicked a 36-yard field goal to put his team on the scoreboard as time expired on the second quarter. Entering the third, however, the game was more of the same for the Dolphins as the offense quickly went three-and-out.

This time, however, the defense came up with a big play as cornerback Ryan Lewis picked off Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield in Cleveland territory. Seven plays after the interception, Fitzpatrick connected with tight end Mike Gesicki from 11 yards out to bring the Dolphins within 18 points — a deficit that remained intact following a missed field goal by Cleveland on the very next series. Starting in solid field position, the visitors were able to add more points to their total.

Fitzpatrick scrambled up the middle from eight yards out for his team’s second touchdown of the quarter — one that cut its deficit to 11 points in the late third period. However, the Browns made it a two-touchdown game again on their next drive thanks to a successful 40-yard field goal attempt. Another kick as well as Fitzpatrick’s second pick of the game then essentially put the contest out of reach. Cleveland’s final touchdown as well as another one by Fitzpatrick to Allen Hurns did not change the outcome.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.