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AFC East Report: Division stays perfectly balanced after Week 3

Let’s find out what happened in Week 3.

NFL: SEP 22 Dolphins at Cowboys Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.” – Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War

The NFL’s 2019 season is only three weeks old, but the AFC East is already shaping up to be a two-class society: the top two teams hold perfect 3-0 records heading into Week 4, while the bottom two squads have yet to win a game this year. Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take a step back and find out how we got here in the latest edition of the AFC East Report.

1. Buffalo Bills (3-0)

Week 3: 21-17 win against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Orchard Park NY

Coming off two straight wins on the road, the Buffalo Bills returned to New Era field for their home opener — and it turned into a victorious one. The 21-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals was a hard-fought affair, however, that saw the Bills give away a two-touchdown lead, only to come back late in the fourth quarter to win and set up a meeting of two undefeated AFC East rivals this Sunday.

The game against Cincinnati started as a defensive affair, as both teams exchanged three-and-outs to open the contest. It took until the game’s fifth possession for a team to finally cross midfield and subsequently put points on the board: it took Buffalo six plays to drive 72 yards and reach the Bengals’ one yard line, and an additional 1-yard pass from Josh Allen to Dawson Knox to give the club an 8-0 lead following a successful two-point attempt.

The visitors responded with a 92-yard return touchdown, but saw it nullified on a hold penalty. Instead, Buffalo’s defense forced its third straight three-and-out to set up another scoring drive for the offense. This time, the Bills marched 46 yards in 10 plays — including a fumble and recovery by Allen — to set up a Stephen Hauschka 34-yard field goal and put them up 11-0 early in the second quarter.

Buffalo’s defense continued its strong play on the next drive, with linebacker Matt Milano recovering a fumble on the very first play from scrimmage. Unfortunately for the home team, however, it failed to take advantage: the Bills also turned the ball over on the ensuing possession due to a fumble by running back T.J. Yeldon. Once again, though, the team’s defense got the football back after just three plays.

This time, the Bills offense was able to add more points to the board: Allen and company drove 17 yards in six plays with Hauschka kicking a 45-yarder to give his team a 14-point lead. Buffalo’s defense forced another takeaway — a Jorden Poyer fumble recovery — to close the second quarter, but was unable to keep its momentum into half number two with the offense especially starting to struggle even more.

After the defense forced another takeaway on an interception by Tre’Davious White, Allen gave the football right back: the second-year man threw a pick of his own just three plays later to set up Cincinnati’s first touchdown of the day. Following another Bills punt, the Bengals were able to tie the game in the early fourth quarter on a massive 11-play, 82-yard drive. Buffalo, on the other hand, was forced to punt again.

Cincinnati scored for a third straight time on its next drive to take a 17-14 lead with under five minutes left in the game. This time, however, the home team was able to respond properly: led by Allen, the Bills marched 78 yards in seven plays with running back Frank Gore scoring from one yard out to put the club ahead again 21-17. White’s second interception of the day finally sealed the game for Buffalo.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. New England Patriots (3-0)

Week 3: 30-14 win against the New York Jets, in Foxborough MA

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Miami Dolphins (0-3)

Week 3: 31-6 loss against the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington TX

After getting blown out 59-10 on opening day and 43-0 one week later, the Miami Dolphins suffered another lopsided defeat in Week 3. Going up on the road against the Dallas Cowboys, the team of former Patriots defensive play caller Brian Flores lost with a score of 31-6 — progress compared to the first two games of the season, but still another sign that Miami should be considered the frontrunners for the first overall draft pick at this point.

The game did actually began well for the Dolphins, who started Josh Rosen at quarterback after going with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the first two weeks. After receiving the opening kickoff, it took the team just three plays to drive from its own 25-yard line to the Dallas 29. The drive stalled at that point, however, and things immediately got even worse as kicker Jason Sanders missed a 47-yard attempt wide to the right.

Dallas did not waste any time to make the Dolphins pay for their miscue, driving down the field and taking a 3-0 lead. Following a Miami three-and-out, the team was quickly down 10-0 thanks to a nine-play, 54-yard series that ended with the Cowboys’ first touchdown of the day. This time, however, Flores’ team was able to answer at least somewhat: a 10-play, 72-yard series was capped by a 22-yard Sanders field goal.

Miami tried to get even more momentum on its side by going for an onside kick, but the team failed to recover. However, and interception by safety Booby McCain just three plays later quickly changed possession again. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, all they could do was punt again after three offensive plays. The next drive turned out to be a more successful one for the club, as it added three more points to cap a 10-play, 49-yard series.

The visitors came close to another score on their very next drive, but once more shot themselves in the foot: driving all the way to the Dallas 7-yard line, running back Kenyan Drake turned the football over on a fumble. While the Cowboys couldn’t take advantage late in the second quarter, the Dolphins never came this close again to potentially taking the lead: on the very first possession of the second half, the home team scored another touchdown to go up 17-6.

The Dolphins again replied with a punt, which set the stage for another Cowboys touchdown. Miami’s offense failed to respond, however, which allowed the team’s opponent to keep adding to its lead: after Dallas missed a 55-yard field goal, Jason Garrett’s team first forced a turnover on downs before adding seven more points to its total late in the fourth quarter. The game ended 31-6 after Rosen was unable to lead his team to another score.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (0-3)

Week 3: 30-14 loss against the New England Patriots, in Foxborough MA

Final Score: Patriots 30, Jets 14

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.