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AFC East Report: Division goes 3-1 in Week 12 and you can probably guess who the one loss was

Related: Patriots vs Cardinals recap: Last-second 20-17 win keeps New England’s playoff hopes alive

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The 12th week of NFL regular season action is in the books, which means that it is now also time for a new edition of the AFC East Report and for a look back at what happened in the New England Patriots’ division over the weekend — from the Buffalo Bills returning out of their bye with a victory, to the Miami Dolphins’ backup quarterback leading the team to a win, to the New York Jets remaining winless.

Let’s dive straight in.

1. Buffalo Bills (8-3)

Week 12: 27-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, in Orchard Park NY

Coming out of their bye week, the Bills may have looked a bit rusty at times against the visiting Chargers but they still did enough to secure their eight victory of the season: the defense was stout and the offense was carried by a potent running game and some timely trickery by offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

After forcing a quick three-and-out to start the contest, Buffalo’s offense drove right down the field in just four plays to take a 7-0 lead when Josh Allen found Dawson Knox for a 2-yard touchdown. Despite their opponent’s quick start, the Chargers bounced back on the very next possession by marching 79 yards in 13 plays to score their first touchdown of the afternoon. However, the Bills retained the lead following a missed extra point.

What followed was an exchange of punts: the ensuing for drives did not move the needle much. It took until midway through the second period for one team to finally find some offensive rhythm again. That team was the Bills, who went on a seven-play, 76-yard rally that was capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Cole Beasley to fellow wide receiver Gabriel Davis.

Following another successful defensive series, Buffalo was then able to add to its lead thanks to a 45-yard Tyler Bass field goal. Head coach Sean McDermott’s squad therefore headed into the locker room at the half up 17-6.

That lead to 18 points on the very first drive of the second half. Aided by a 38-yard kickoff return from Andre Roberts, Buffalo moved down the field in 12 plays with its quarterback ending the series on a 3-yard run into the end zone. At that point, however, the Chargers began fighting back by going on another touchdown drive as well — one that also included a successful two-point try to make it a 24-14 ballgame in the late third period.

L.A. had a chance to add another score in the early fourth, but the Bills’ defense was able to get off the field by stuffing a 4th-and-1 in its own territory. Just two plays later, however, the visitors were again in possession of the football — and this time they made it count: following a fumble by Devin Singletary, the Chargers turned the game into a one-possession contest thanks to a field goal.

Momentum continued to stay with the team even after a 44-yard pass by the Bills on the very next play from scrimmage. Just one play later, after all, the Chargers recovered a botched snap to give the offense a chance to tie the game. However, Buffalo’s defense came through to force a three-and-out. It did not matter, though, because the offense’s ball security issues continued: the next drive also ended with a giveaway when Josh Allen threw an interception.

Luckily for the Bills, the Chargers failed to capitalize yet again: they turned the football over themselves just three plays later when Tre’Davious White was able to pick off rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. That pick set up a 43-yard field goal that increased Buffalo’s lead to 10 points again with under four minutes left to play.

And yet, the Chargers did not go down without a fight: Justin Herbert completed two straight deep passes on 4th-and-long — the first was called back due to an offensive penalty — to set up the team with a chance to make things interesting again. What followed, however, was some terrible clock management by L.A. head coach Anthony Lynn that sealed the game at 27-17 in Buffalo’s favor.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. Miami Dolphins (7-4)

Week 12: 20-3 win over the New York Jets, in East Rutherford NJ

Even with starting quarterback Tua Tagovaioloa out because of a thumb injury, the Dolphins were able to go into MetLife Stadium and secure their seventh win of the year — positioning themselves well for the homestretch of the regular season. A solid performance by Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver DeVante Parker as well as a good defensive effort (aided by some terrible offensive football on the other side) helped Miami win relatively convincingly.

Brian Flores’ team started the game slowly, though, by giving up a nine-play, 55-yard drive that ended with a Jets field goal. Miami responded by driving into New York territory, but the series eventually stalled to give New York an opportunity to add to its lead. This time, however, the Dolphins were able to stop their opponent before it reached scoring territory — setting up a Miami field goal drive that saw Jason Sanders hit a 54-yarder to tie the game.

That tie stayed intact until midway through the second quarter, when Fitzpatrick led his troops on a 10-play, 88-yard rally that ended with his first touchdown pass since losing his starting job after Week 6: the veteran connected with Mike Gesicki for a 13-yard score to give his team a 10-3 advantage. Following a defensive three-and-out, a 51-yard field goal from Sanders added three more points to the Dolphins’ lead.

The Jets did have a chance to make it a one-possession game again just before the half, but they missed a 29-yard field goal wide to the right as time expired. The teams, therefore, headed into the locker rooms with Miami up 13-3.

That lead was again in danger early in the third quarter and with the Jets driving into the Dolphins’ side of the field. However, an interception by cornerback Nik Needham ended the drive. Miami’s offense, however, failed to take advantage. In general, the unit struggled in the third quarter: first it punted the ball away after the interception, and then it ended back-to-back possession by seeing their running backs — first Matt Breida, then Patrick Laird — lose fumbles.

Luckily for Miami, the Jets’ offensive ineptitude prevented them from doing any damage after the takeaways. Instead, the Dolphins were able to add to their lead in the fourth period when they drove 80 yards in seven plays. Fitzpatrick connected with tight end Adam Shaheen to cap the drive with a touchdown. The Jets replied with an interception — Xavien Howard was able to come away with the ball — and Miami successfully ran out the clock.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. New England Patriots (5-6)

Week 12: 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals, in Foxborough MA

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (0-11)

Week 12: 20-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins, in East Rutherford NJ

Heading into the Week 12 game against the Dolphins, there was some speculation in New York about who would call plays on offense. Was it head coach Adam Gase? Assistant offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains? Somebody else? Ultimately, it probably did not matter: the unit was incapable of playing NFL-level football yet again, scoring just three points despite a comparatively solid defensive effort.

The game, however, did start well for the home team: with former first-round pick Sam Darnold returning to his starting spot at quarterback, New York drove 55 yards in nine plays to take a 3-0 lead on a 38-yard Sergio Castillo field goal. That kick, however, remained the high-water mark for the Jets’ offense.

While the team’s defense forced a punt on the Dolphins’ opening possession, Darnold and company failed to take advantage by gaining just one first down before kicking the ball away again. This time, Miami was able to tie the game at 3-3. The Jets, meanwhile, replied with a three-and-out that set up the first touchdown of the day — courtesy of a New York defense that surrendered a 10-play, 88-yard series.

The Jets went three-and-out after the touchdown, with the Dolphins adding three more points on the ensuing possession. While New York did show some signs of life on offense right after that field goal, a promising series that started at their own 7-yard line ended without points: Castillo pushed a 29-yard field goal wide to the right as time expired on the first half.

The third quarter did go better for the Jets, though, at least on defense. The unit forced two straight punts to open the half and followed them up with a pair of fumble recoveries by Harvey Langi and Neville Hewitt. Unfortunately, though, none of it mattered as the offense was unable to get out of its own way. Not only did Sam Darnold throw an interception, the also Jets gained just two first downs the entire quarter.

In the early fourth, meanwhile, it was stopped on 4th-and-1 at the Miami 17-yard line. The Dolphins eventually were able to build some offensive rhythm again midway through the final period to take a 20-3 lead on another touchdown. Down 17 points, the game was very much out of reach for the Jets. Darnold threw his second pick just two plays later, with the visitors successfully running out the clock on a six-minute series.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.