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AFC East Report: Bills have a two-game lead over the Patriots four weeks into the season

Related: Instant analysis from Patriots’ 26-10 loss to Chiefs

Buffalo Bills v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The fourth week of NFL regular season action is in the books, which means that it is now also time for the fourth edition of this year’s AFC East Report — and to look back at what happened in the New England Patriots’ division over a wild weekend. Without any further ado, let’s dive straight in.

1. Buffalo Bills (4-0)

Week 4: 30-23 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, in Paradise NV

Four weeks into the regular season, the Bills are now up two games over the Patriots in the race for the AFC East title. A long season is still ahead for the two teams, but Buffalo has nevertheless impressed behind the rapid development of third-year passer Josh Allen and its usual stout defense. Both were again on display in Week 4, when the team traveled to Nevada to take on the 2-1 Raiders.

The visitors wasted no time showing why they were listed as 3-point road favorites entering the game. With Allen serving as the main catalyst, the team’s offense marched right down the field on the opening possession to take a 7-0 lead when the former first-round draft pick hit rookie receiver Gabriel Davis from 26-yards out. The defense did allow the Raiders to answer with a field goal drive, but the Bills struck back immediately.

Allen connected with Cole Beasley for an 11-yard touchdown, to cap an 11-play, 75-yard series and increase Buffalo’s lead to 11 points. Buffalo’s defense again was able to hold Las Vegas’ attack to a field goal to set up another Bills scoring drive. And while it eventually stalled in the Raiders red zone, kicker Tyler Bass still added three more points to his team’s total when he was good from 34 yards out.

With four minutes to go in the first half, the Bills defense was in prime position to secure momentum heading into the locker room but it failed to do just that: for the third straight series it surrendered a score, this time coming in the form of a short touchdown pass that left almost no time on the clock. Buffalo and Las Vegas therefore headed into the locker rooms at intermission with the visitors up 17-13.

The Bills’ four-point lead decreased to just one of the opening series of Quarter Three, as the Raiders marched right down the field before being held to a field goal yet again. Following an exchange of punts, Josh Allen and company managed to drive into scoring range yet again — and to increase their lead to seven points again: the Bills’ quarterback snuck into the end zone from one yard out, but Bass missed the ensuing extra point.

Luckily for the Bills, there defense made it biggest play of the day on the next drive when Josh Norman forced and recovered a fumble. What followed was a four-play scoring drive that included a 49-yard pass to Stefon Diggs and ended with a 2-yard touchdown by Devin Singletary. Up 30-16 with 11 minutes to go in the game, Buffalo found itself in a comfortable position — especially after the defense stopped the Raiders on a 4th-and-1 on the subsequent series.

The Bills didn’t capitalize — they lost eight yards on their next drive — but another turnover helped them keep Jon Gruden’s team at bay: Quinton Jefferson forced and recovered a fumble, setting up a drive that allowed the Bills to drain two more minutes off the clock. The Raiders did eventually score another touchdown, but when their onside kick attempt came up in the arms of Bills safety Jaquan Johnson, the game was essentially over.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. New England Patriots (2-2)

Week 4: 26-10 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs, in Kansas City MO

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Miami Dolphins (1-3)

Week 4: 31-23 loss against the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle WA

One week after registering their first win of the season, the Dolphins found themselves back in the loss column. While they did play a competitive game against the undefeated Seahawks on the road, they ultimately did not make enough plays and failed to take advantage of having more time to prepare coming off a Thursday night game in Week 3.

Brian Flores’ team started the game in possession of the football, but on the fourth play had to give it up again when Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception. That pick set up a 57-yard touchdown drive that put Miami in an early 7-0 hole — one that was made a bit smaller when, after an exchange of punt, the team’s offense drove into Seattle territory before Jason Sanders kicked a 41-yard field goal.

The home team responded with a field goal of its own, which in turn was answered by another Dolphins kick — Sanders was good from 29 out on his second attempt to keep Miami down by four early in the second period. What followed was another Seahawks drive into scoring range, but the defense came up with its biggest play up until that moment: facing a 4th-and-3 at the Miami 18-yard line, Seattle kept its offense on the field. Emmanuel Ogbah, however, sacked quarterback Russell Wilson for a 7-yard loss and turnover on downs.

The Dolphins capitalized on the play, by once again driving to a Sanders field goal — this one from 45 yards away. With only 24 seconds left in the first half, however, the Seahawks aggressively attacked down the field and it took them just four plays and 21 seconds to cover 75 yards and score their second touchdown of the day with a mere six ticks left on the clock.

Coming out of the locker room down 17-9, Miami again allowed Seattle to drive right down the field. Once more, however, the defense made a stand: on a 3rd-and-goal from the 6-yard line, Xavien Howard was able to intercept Wilson to keep the game a one-possession contest. And just like after the fourth down sack, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense drove to another score when Sanders’ fourth field goal of the day brought Miami within five of the Seahawks.

That deficit shrunk to only two points after a massive 17-play, eight-minute series ended with yet another field goal. It did not take the Seahawks long to regain momentum, however, and they scored their third touchdown on the ensuing possession to go up 24-15. With their backs against the proverbial wall, the Dolphins needed some spark on offense. What they got, however, was Fitzpatrick’s second interception of the day. Two plays later, the Seahawks were up 31-15.

While a Fitzpatrick touchdown run on the next drive brought the Dolphins back into the game, the Seahawks were able to run out the clock on their next possession by converting a 3rd-and-3 at midfield.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (0-4)

Week 4: 37-28 loss against the Denver Broncos, in East Rutherford NJ

With two 0-3 teams going against each other on Thursday Night Football, one of the two was in prime position to get that first win of the season. That team was, unsurprisingly, not the New York Jets. Despite playing at home, Adam Gase’s team came up short against the Broncos — losing not just their fourth game of the season but also starting quarterback Sam Darnold due to a shoulder injury.

Early on during the game, however, the Jets looked competitive. Their first possession of the game was a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a spectacular 46-yard touchdown run by the team’s starting quarterback. The defense did give up a long drive, meanwhile, but eventually held to force Denver to settle for a field goal. On the very next series, however, the game took a change for the worse from New York’s perspective: Darnold was sacked and after one more play had to come out of the game because of a sprained AC joint. Enter ex-Bronco Joe Flacco.

Flacco failed to salvage the drive that included Darnold’s sack, which allowed the Broncos to take the lead in just three plays: a roughing-the-passer penalty against the defense was followed by a 48-yard touchdown pass given up. Flacco started the next drive under center as well, before eventually giving way to Darnold again: the Jets’ starter was cleared to return to action, and finished the game (that said, he has already been ruled out for Week 6).

Darnold’s return did initially not tip the scales for the Jets, but an interception by cornerback Pierre Desir did: the pick set up the team’s second scoring drive, as a 26-yard Sam Ficken field goal tied the game at 10 midway through the second period. The Broncos replied with a score of their own and went up 17-10 on their next drive. With under two minutes left in the half, however, Darnold and company marched down the field again to cut their deficit to four points on another field goal.

After forcing a three-and-out on the first drive of the second half, the Jets added three more points to come within one. Denver, however, answered with another score: the Jets’ defense allowed the team to drive 75 yards in 13 plays on a drive that took seven minutes off the clock and ended with a touchdown. New York’s eight-point deficit grew to 11 after the defense surrendered a field goal early into the fourth quarter.

Darnold did lead his team to a field goal of its own right after that, and momentum continued to shift the Jets’ way when Desire registered his second interception — one he returned 35 yards for a touchdown. New York failed to tie the game, however, as the ensuing two-point conversion fell incomplete. Still, the team was in business now: Brian Poole added another pick on the next drive, which allowed the Jets to go up 28-27 on Ficken’s fifth field goal of the afternoon.

That lead did not last long, however, as the Broncos added three point of their own on their next possession. With three minutes remaining in the ballgame, the Jets drove all the way up to midfield only to see Darnold get sacked on a 4th-and-3. One play later, the game was basically over: Denver running back Melvin Gordon took a handoff 43 yards into the end zone to put his team up 37-28. Darnold, for good measure, was sacked a sixth time on the next drive and New York turned the football over on downs again.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.