The fifth week of NFL regular season action is in the books, which means that it is now also time for the fifth edition of this year’s AFC East Report — and to look back at what happened in the New England Patriots’ division while the reigning champs were on their bye. So, without any further ado, let’s dive straight in.
1. Buffalo Bills (4-1)
Week 5: 42-16 loss against the Tennessee Titans, in Nashville TN
The Bills started their 2020 season in impressive fashion, and by winning all of their first four games. The team hit its first roadblock in Week 5, however, and it was a big one: traveling to Tennessee on Tuesday night to take on the Titans, they were blown out with a final score of 42-16 — a good result from the Patriots’ perspective as it prevented Buffalo from pulling farther away in the race for the AFC East crown.
The game started in disastrous fashion for the Bills. On just the third play from scrimmage after the opening kickoff, quarterback Josh Allen threw an interception to ex-Patriot Malcolm Butler that was returned to the Buffalo 16-yard line. Two plays later, the home team took a 7-0 lead. Allen and company, however, responded in style by driving to a touchdown of their own: a 15-play sequence that covered 76 yards was capped with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah McKenzie.
Tennessee, however, regained the lead in the early second quarter — partially because Buffalo’s punt coverage unit allowed a 40-yard return to set up the drive. Once again, however, the Bills were able to answer the Titans’ score with one of their own. While it came only in the form of a 43-yard Tyler Bass field goal, the team was still very much in the game midway through the second period.
Before the half, however, Buffalo’s defense allowed another touchdown drive — this one covering 90 yards in 12 plays while taking just 2:39 off the clock. Coming out of the locker rooms down 21-10 and with the Titans receiving the opening kickoff, the Bills defense forced a punt to get some momentum back. However, it did not remain on the team’s side for long: the next drive started promising, but Allen threw his second pick of the day with Malcolm Butler once more on the receiving end.
Three plays after Butler returned the pick 68 yards to the Buffalo 12, the Titans added another touchdown to go up 28-10. Allen responded with a touchdown pass of his own — from 22 yards out to T.J. Yeldon — but the team’s defense simply failed to come up with a big play, or even a stop, when it was needed the most: Tennessee drove right down the field again after the Yeldon touchdown to go up 35-16 with only four minutes left in the game.
Following a third Buffalo turnover, a fumble lost by Andre Roberts on the ensuing kickoff return, the Titans added insult to injury by finalizing the 42-16 score with another touchdown. At the end of the day, the Bills simply made too many mistakes in all three phases to hang with a Tennessee team that is now 4-0.
To watch highlights of the game, click here.
2. New England Patriots (2-2)
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: vs Denver Broncos (1-3)
Week 7: vs San Francisco 49ers (2-3)
Week 8: at Buffalo Bills (4-1)
Week 9: at New York Jets (0-5)
Week 10: vs Baltimore Ravens (4-1)
Sitting at 2-2 after four games, the Patriots’ record reflects their inconsistency so far. While they had some impressive moments — from the running game dominating against Miami and Las Vegas, to the defense playing lights-out for most of the Kansas City game — they also made just too many mistakes in their two losses to come away victoriously. Still, the team did show its potential time and again before Covid-19 forced the team into an early bye.
3. Miami Dolphins (2-3)
Week 5: 43-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers, in Santa Clara CA
Despite having to face the reigning NFC champions on the road, and entering Week 5 with a 1-3 record, the Dolphins played their best game of the season against 49ers: they jumped to an early lead and never looked back, blowing out their overmatched opponent with a final score of 43-17 — their most lopsided win of the Brian Flores era, and in fact their biggest margin of victory since a 35-9 win over the Denver Broncos in 2017.
After forcing a three-and-out on the game’s first possession, the Dolphins drove straight to the game’s first touchdown: a six-play, 79-yard series was capped with a 3-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to tight end Adam Shaheen. Following another stop forced by the defense — the unit held on a 4th-and-1 in its own territory — Miami increased its lead to 14 points, with Myles Gaskin finding the end zone from one yard out.
Things did get a bit better for the home team and former New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second quarter. The team’s defense finally made a stand, allowing Garoppolo and company to score their first touchdown of the game. Miami, however, responded in perfect fashion: Fitzpatrick led his unit on a 78-yard series that ended with his second touchdown pass of the day, a 22-yarder to DeVante Parker. The team was far from done, though.
Another San Francisco punt later, Miami took over with 4:40 left in the first half. What followed was a quick succession of events. Jason Sanders kicked a 26-yard field goal to put Miami up 24-7 with 2:04 left, which was followed by a Brice McCain interception and 19-yard return that led to a 50-yard field goal with 43 ticks remaining. Another Dolphins interception — this one by Xavien Howard — allowed Sanders to add a third field goal in a two-minute span to give the Dolphins a 30-7 lead heading into the half.
At that point in time, and with Garoppolo being benched at intermission, Miami was in total control of the game. The 49ers did score their second touchdown of the day midway through the third period, but another Fitzpatrick scoring pass — from 32 yards out to Preston Williams — put the team up by 23 points again. The two teams went on to exchange field goals before Sanders’ fifth kick of the day finalized the score at 43-17 in Quarter Four.
Miami’s defense added one more fourth down stop and another takeaway for good measure: first the team forced an incomplete pass on 4th-and-2 to set up Sanders’ final field goal, before Emmanuel Ogbah forced a fumble that was recovered by Christian Wilkins. And thus, the Dolphins are at 2-3 heading into a game against the NFL’s worst team. Speaking of which...
To watch highlights of the game, click here.
4. New York Jets (0-5)
Week 5: 30-10 loss against the Arizona Cardinals, in East Rutherford NJ
New York is a wasteland devoid of talent and hope, and Sunday’s 30-10 home loss against the Cardinals was another illustration of that. The team, which had to start Joe Flacco at quarterback in place of an injured Sam Darnold, was only competitive for so long before eventually falling apart yet again to bring head coach Adam Gase’s record since taking over last year to 7-14.
The game began as a defensive affair, with neither team gaining a new set of downs on the first three combined possessions. The Cardinals, however, were first to find some offensive success — and they made it count: the team drove 89 yards in eight plays to go up 7-0 on a 29-yard rushing touchdown on a 3rd-and-1. New York did show some life following the score by not only gaining its first first down of the day but also by driving into the Arizona red zone one series later.
While the Jets did reach the Cardinals 13-yard line, however, they failed to come away with points: after tight end Trevon Wesco was stopped on 3rd-and-1, Le’Veon Bell was unable to gain the necessary yardage on 4th-and-1. Luckily for New York, the turnover on downs was followed by a turnover through air: Avery Williamson picked off Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray to set the offense up at the Arizona 10. Flacco and company gained only two net yards, however, and had to settle for a 26-yard Sam Ficken field goal.
The team’s four-point deficit quickly grew to 11. The Cardinals marched 75 yards in 10 plays on the following possession, to score their second touchdown of the day. With under three minutes to go in the half, Flacco had plenty of time to get his team into scoring range again but he failed to do so. Instead, after a Jets punt, the Cardinals were given another chance to add to their lead — and they did by marching 52 yards in 50 seconds to score a field goal.
Coming out of the break, the teams again exchanged punts before the Jets’ first touchdown drive of the afternoon. Flacco led his men on a 74-yard march in just six plays — including a 52-yard pass to Jamison Crowder — before the two connected once more from 11 yards out to bring New York within a touchdown again. Momentum, however, moved back to the visitors rather quickly.
The Jets defense gave up another touchdown drive following Crowder’s score, and saw another interception nullified by penalty one possession later. Instead, the Cardinals were able to find the end zone a fourth time to go up 30-10 midway through the fourth quarter. Gase’s team was unable to come back from the 20-point deficit, with a turnover on downs on the next drive essentially sealing the club’s fate.
To watch highlights of the game, click here.