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AFC East Report: Bills almost blow a 28-3 lead but hold on to stay undefeated

Related: Instant analysis from Patriots’ 36-20 win over Raiders

Los Angeles Rams v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

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

1. Buffalo Bills (3-0)

Week 3: 35-32 win over the Los Angeles Rams, in Orchard Park NY

For the second year in a row, the Buffalo Bills are undefeated three weeks into the season. Victory number three was a hard-fought one for head coach Sean McDermott’s team: the team almost let a 28-3 lead over the Rams slip through its fingers only to score a game-winning touchdown with only 21 seconds left in the game.

Buffalo began the game slowly: the offense went three-and-out before the defense allowed its opponent to drive into field goal range. Back-to-back sacks, however, turned what would have been a 43-yard kick into a 53-yarder that was missed wide to the left. Starting in solid field position, the offense marched to its first score of the day when quarterback Josh Allen led his troops on an 11-play drive that covered 57 yards and ended with a touchdown pass to Lee Smith — Allen’s first of four TDs on the day.

Momentum continued to stay with the home team. Cornerback Levi Wallace intercepted a pass early in the second quarter to end Los Angeles’ next possession and set up another touchdown drive, this one capped by Allen rushing into the end zone from one yard out. The Rams answered with a field goal, but the Bills only added to their lead when their quarterback found Tyler Kroft for another touchdown to put his team up 21-3 late in the first half.

The third quarter started with L.A. driving into Bills territory only to turn the football over on downs. Buffalo, meanwhile, drove 52 yards in seven plays with Allen and Stefon Diggs connecting to increase the lead to 28-3. With 8:05 left in the third quarter, however, there was plenty of time for the visitors to come back into the game — and come back they did.

After Buffalo allowed a touchdown on the next drive, Allen was intercepted to set up another score. Up 28-17, the Bills went three-and-out and to watch the Rams march 97 yards in 10 plays to come within three points of at least tying the contest. When the team’s otherwise impressive quarterback turned the football over for a second time — Allen was sacked and lost a fumble — Los Angeles was in prime position to take its first lead of the day.

The Bills’ defense was unable to prevent it from happening: the unit surrendered a 37-yard drive that was capped with the Rams’ fourth straight touchdown. Their perfect record in jeopardy with only 4:30 remaining in the game, Buffalo’s offense marched right down the field in 11 plays — aided by a dubious pass interference call on 4th-and-8 — to regain the lead on another scoring pass from Allen to Kroft. Now up 35-32, the Bills were able to hang onto their lead to improve to 3-0.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. New England Patriots (2-1)

Week 3: 36-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, in Foxborough MA

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Miami Dolphins (1-2)

Week 3: 31-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, in Jacksonville FL

The AFC East’s first Thursday night game of the season saw the Dolphins travel north to take on the Jaguars in Jacksonville — a contest that saw the visitors dominate from the get-go to register their first win of the season in rather convincing fashion.

Miami started the ball in possession of the football and went to work right away: led by an impressively efficient Ryan Fitzpatrick, who completed 18 of his 20 pass attempts on the day, the team’s offense marched 84 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead. The drive ended with Fitzpatrick hitting Preston Williams for a 3-yard touchdown. The Dolphins’ defense, meanwhile, also had a good start: the unit allowed one first down before forcing a punt.

Fitzpatrick and company did also not waste any time on their next possession by driving 80 yards in just six plays to increase their lead to 14-0 on a 1-yard Jordan Howard run up the gut. The home team was able to respond by driving to its first touchdown of the day this time, but the Dolphins quickly regained momentum: Fitzpatrick and Mike Gesicki connected from 15 yards out for Miami’s third touchdown of the day and a 21-7 lead that remained intact into the second half.

The third quarter began like the second ended: with the Jacksonville offense failing to establish any rhythm. The Dolphins forced a quick punt to open the period before a Kyle Van Noy fumble and recovery set the offense up at the Jaguars’ 5-yard line. Four plays later, Fitzpatrick scored from one yard out to put his team up 28-7 with just over 17 minutes to go in the game.

Jacksonville did score a touchdown to make it a two-possession game again, but the Dolphins replied by successfully draining the clock down to under six minutes on their next drive. A fourth down sack by the defense, a 30-yard field goal by Jason Meyers, and an interception by Xavien Howard ultimately sealed the deal in the visitors’ favor: Miami 31, Jacksonville 13.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (0-3)

Week 3: 36-7 loss against the Indianapolis Colts, in Indianapolis IN

The Jets continue to look like the worst team in the NFL, and Sunday’s blowout loss in Indianapolis is further confirmation of that. Adam Gase’s squad gained just 260 yards all day, while averaging 4.3 yards per play and going 3-for-13 on third and fourth down — all while turning the football over three times and failing to stop a Colts team that also did not post eye-popping statistics but was in full control from early on.

The game’s very first drive was a sign of things to come. The Jets started on offense but just five plays in gave the football away the first time: Sam Darnold tried to connect with rookie wide receiver Lawrence Cager but the pass was undercut by Indianapolis cornerback Xavier Rhodes and returned 44 yards for a touchdown.

The Jets were still very much in the game at that point, however, with Darnold bouncing back nicely. Immediately after the pick-six, the third-year passer led his offense on a 14-play, 88-yard series that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass to former Patriots wide receiver Braxton Berrios. Momentum did not stay with New York for long, as the team’s quest at winning its first game of the season started to unravel fast after the tying score.

The Colts, after all, replied with a touchdown of their own and were able to add three more points after a Jets punt. Down 17-7, the Jets’ offense drove all the way to the Indianapolis 7-yard line but Darnold again was picked off by Rhodes while targeting Lawrence Cager. New York never came closer to making it a game again, and got lucky late in the second quarter when an Indianapolis field goal attempt bounced off the right upright.

The two teams opened the third quarter by exchanging punts before New York’s defense surrendered a 55-yard series that ended with the home team’s third touchdown of the day. The fourth came shortly thereafter. Following an exchange of punts, Darnold was picked off for a third time with the interception again being returned for a touchdown — this time from 47 yards out — to give Indianapolis a 31-7 lead.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the game was all but over. The Jets seemingly tried to run out the clock but surrendered another two points when Darnold was sacked in the end zone for a safety. Indianapolis’ final field goal moved the game to 36-7, and the Jets to 0-3 on the year.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.