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AFC East Report: Patriots, Bills suffer losses in Week 17 before heading into the playoffs

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

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The NFL’s 2019 regular season is in the books, and it was a rather successful one for the AFC East — at least at the top: the division sent two of its teams to the postseason. The other two, meanwhile, are in the middle of rebuilding and will enter the offseason with considerable work to be done in order to compete in 2020. Before getting ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take one final look back in this week’s edition of the AFC East Report:

1. New England Patriots (12-4)

Week 17: 27-24 loss against the Miami Dolphins, in Foxborough MA

Patriots vs Dolphins recap: 27-24 loss costs New England a first-round playoff bye

Instant analysis from Patriots’ 27-24 loss to Dolphins

Patriots vs Dolphins: Watch the Pats Pulpit Postgame Show live!

Bill Belichick explains why the Patriots ran out the clock to end the first half against the Dolphins

Patriots look ahead after losing to Dolphins: ‘We put it behind us and focus on the next challenge’

3 winners and 6 losers from the Patriots’ 27-24 loss to the Dolphins

The Lane Breakdown: Who’s to blame for Patriots’ loss to the Dolphins?

The Patriots are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Scho Show Episode #57: What. Was. That.

Patriots vs. Dolphins: Fan Notes from the Game

Patriots vs Dolphins snap counts: Starting O-line goes wire-to-wire for first time all season

Was Sunday’s loss the Patriots’ worst regular season defeat of the Brady-Belichick era?

Patriots vs Dolphins advanced stats: New England’s secondary collapses in Week 17

Pats Pulpit Podcast Episode 183: Patriots hand away first round bye with disappointing loss to Dolphins

Coping With Loss: Miami Dolphins Edition

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. Buffalo Bills (10-6)

Week 17: 13-6 loss against the New York Jets, in Orchard Park NY

Following their Week 16 loss against the Patriots, the Buffalo Bills were locked into the fifth playoff seed in the AFC and therefore did not go all-out to win their regular season finale. Some key starters played only a handful of snaps before being pulled, which led to the game against the New York Jets being a low-scoring affair that was eventually won by the visitors with a final score of 13-6 — one that should not be seen as an indicator for Buffalo’s potential playoff success.

The home team started the contest on defense and allowed the Jets to get into an early rhythm while driving into Buffalo territory. There, the drive stalled and New York missed a 51-yard field goal to keep the game scoreless midway through the first quarter. Buffalo’s offense, meanwhile, went three-and-out on its first two possessions before the defense made the first big play of the game: Levi Wallace registered and interception that gave the Bills the football near midfield.

With backup quarterback Matt Barkley now in the game instead of starter Josh Allen, however, the team failed to take advantage and again saw the drive end after just three offensive plays. In turn, the Jets took a 3-0 lead on another long drive — one that was answered with the Bills’ best series of the day to that point, but one that again ended with punter Corey Bojorquez kicking the football away.

Buffalo’s offensive struggles continued on the next drive, with Barkley throwing an interception that set up another scoring opportunity for New York. The team missed another field goal attempt to keep the score at 3-0 heading into the half, however, which allowed the Bills to tie the game on their second possession of the third quarter (the first had ended with Barkley losing a fumble on a sack): Sean McDermott’s team marched 77 yards in 16 plays to get on the board with a 28-yard Stephen Hauschka field goal.

The tie did not hold long as the Buffalo defense surrendered another long drive — this one ending with a Jets touchdown. The Bills failed to answer: Barkley threw his second interception of the day to set up another Jets field goal, before leading the team to three more points on a 29-yard Hauschka kick with under a minute left in the game. But since Buffalo failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, the team will head into the playoffs having lost three of its last four games.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. New York Jets (7-9)

Week 17: 13-6 loss against the New York Jets, in Orchard Park NY

Entering their final game of the regular season with a 6-9 record, the New York Jets had little to play for: they were already out of the playoff picture and would have only slightly improved their draft position by suffering their 10th loss of the year. Seeing head coach Adam Gase, who will return in 2020 despite the Jets’ struggles this season, play his starters was therefore no real surprise — and a move that allowed the team to secure a win in Buffalo.

Gang Green opened the game with the football and despite starting at its own 8-yard line quickly drove down the field against one of the better defenses in the NFL. The drive eventually stalled on a wildcat play in Buffalo territory which forced the team to settle for a 51-yard field goal. However, kicker Sam Ficken hooked the attempt to the left and the game remained scoreless midway through the first period.

The Jets defense, meanwhile, opened the game by forcing two straight three-and-outs to help tilt the field position battle in their favor. Once again, though, the team failed to take advantage: quarterback Sam Darnold was intercepted to end New York’s third possession. Luckily, the defense rose to the occasion again and forced another three-and-out — one that set up the first scoring drive of the day for the visitors.

Darnold and company drove 71 yards in 11 plays before Ficken made a 30-yard attempt to give the Jets a 3-0 lead — one that would hold until the half as the Jets failed to take advantage of a James Burgess interception in the late second period: despite starting in Buffalo territory after the pick and driving all the way down to the 10-yard line, the team came up empty after a sack and a 34-yard field goal try that sailed wide right as time expired.

Half number two did start better for the Jets, however: Jordan Jenkins forced a strip-sack that was recovered by Tarell Basham to end the Bills’ first drive of the third quarter. However, the offense was unable to do much with the takeaway, which in turn allowed Buffalo to tie the game on a 16-play drive. This time, New York did reply in style and went on a scoring march itself as Darnold led his men on a 75-yard series that ended with a touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder from one yard out.

Then, it was time to shine for New York’s defense: the unit forced two straight punts before Arthur Maulet registered an interception that set up a 47-yard field goal by Ficken. While the Bills also scored a field goal afterwards, it was too little too late as the Jets recovered the onside kick that followed to secure their seventh and final win of their season.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. Miami Dolphins (5-11)

Week 17: 27-24 win against the New England Patriots, in Foxborough MA

Dolphins at Patriots final score, immediate reactions, and recap

DeVante Parker outshines Stephon Gilmore in Dolphins 27-24 victory

Phinsider Radio: Surprising finish to the Miami Dolphins 2019 season

To watch highlights of the game, click here.