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AFC East Report: How the Patriots’ division rivals fared in Week 8

Related: NFL playoff picture: Patriots are starting to make some noise in the AFC

Cincinnati Bengals v New York Jets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The eighth 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 — one that saw the Patriots get back to .500, the Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins, and the New York Jets celebrate one of the biggest upsets of the season so far.

Let’s dive straight in.

1. Buffalo Bills (5-2)

Week 8: 26-11 win over the Miami Dolphins, in Orchard Park NY

The Bills started slowly coming out of their bye week, but at the end of the day they made enough plays to fend off the visiting Miami Dolphins and improve to 5-2 on the season. Remaining as the fourth seed in the AFC, the team of head coach Sean McDermott continues to be in the driver’s seat in the division.

The game against Miami started as a defensive affair, with neither club unable to pull away early. While Buffalo did take a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter thanks to a 57-yard Tyler Bass field goal, the team’s offense had a hard time to get going in the first half: it registered just five first downs and had a hard time sustaining drives; Josh Allen and company went 1-for-6 on third down over the first 30 minutes and failed to convert their lone fourth down try.

The Bills defense, on the other hand, looked very good against its opponent. Buffalo did allow a field goal in the second quarter to tie the game at 3-3, but the team’s defense also registered the stops when it had to — including in the late second period. With the Bills having turned the football over on downs inside of a minute left to play, the unit had a crucial takeaway when Micah Hyde recovered a fumble at his own 13-yard line.

Coming out of the half, the game continued to be a defensive affair: the teams traded three-and-outs before the Bills finally found their rhythm. The home team took a 10-3 lead when Josh Allen found Gabriel Davis to cap off a 13-play, 80-yard series.

In the fourth quarter, Allen added another touchdown pass when he hooked up with Stefon Diggs for a 19-yard score. Up 17-3 and with the defense in full control of its opponent, the game already appeared to be out of reach for Miami.

While the club did score its first touchdown of the day on the very next drive and also added a successful two-point try, it was not enough: the Bills scored another field goal and — following a Jordan Poyer interception — added their third touchdown on a Josh Allen run from 7 yards out.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

2. New England Patriots (4-4)

Week 7: 27-24 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, in Inglewood CA

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To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. New York Jets (2-5)

Week 8: 34-31 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, in East Rutherford NJ

Coming off their worst beatdown in years — a 54-13 blowout in New England — and with their starting quarterback out due to a knee injury, the Jets were clear home underdogs against the 5-2 Bengals: oddsmakers had Cincinnati favored by 11 points, which actually seemed low given the circumstances. However, the NFL is nothing if not unpredictable.

Led by fourth-year man Mike White, the Jets started the football on offense and immediately made a statement: the unit drove 75 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a Michael Charter touchdown run from 8 yards out. New York then added a defensive three-and-out, to give White and company a chance to quickly add to their lead.

Despite driving into Cincinnati territory yet again, however, they failed to come away with points. Quite the opposite, actually: White was intercepted, with the Bengals returning the football 65 yards to the Jets’ 1-yard line. What followed, however, was an impressive goal-line stand by New York’s defense: the unit stuffed Joe Mixon twice for a loss of yards, forced a incomplete pass on third down, and sacked Joe Burrow for a 12-yard loss on 4th-and-goal from the 3.

The Jets offense, on the other hand, gave the football right back to its opponent. Two plays after the Quinnen Williams sack on fourth down, White threw another interception to set up the Bengals in the New York red zone. This time, they would not be denied: Mixon found the end zone on the first play of the second quarter to tie the game.

New York had a chance to regain the upper hand on its next drive, but rookie kicker Matt Ammendola sent a 54-yard field goal try wide to the left. Instead, Cincinnati went up 14-7 later in the second period. The visitors then added three more points to their total after yet another Jets turnover: Jamison Crowder lost a fumble to set up a 50-yard scoring drive.

The Jets, however, fought back before the half and managed to drive 67 yards in 1:36 to score their second TD of the day: White found Braxton Berrios from 8 yards out to bring his team within three heading into the locker room.

The third quarter started with a Bengals punt followed by a 24-yard Ammendola field goal to tie the game. The tie was short-lived, however, as Cincinnati scored yet another touchdown to go up 24-17. While another field goal from 24 yards out added three points in favor of New York, the team still trailed 24-20 in the early fourth period — a deficit that would grow to 11 points with only 7:29 left in the game.

However, the Jets were not done yet. The team answered the Bengals’ fourth touchdown with a 75-yard drive that took only 2:53 off the clock. White and Ty Johnson capped it with a 19-yard touchdown connection.

One play later, the defense came up in the clutch as well: Shaq Lawson intercepted Joe Burrow to set up the Jets offense at the Cincinnati 14-yard line. Two plays later, White hit Tyler Kroft for a 13-yard score to put his team up 34-31 after a successful trick play two-point try (one that saw Mike White catch a Jamison Crowder pass).

The Bengals still had plenty of time to at least tie the game, but New York played some perfect complementary football to close it out. First, the defense forced a stop in Cincinnati territory; then, the offense successfully ran out the clock to give the Jets their second victory of the season.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. Miami Dolphins (1-7)

Week 8: 26-11 loss to the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park NY

Six weeks removed from a 35-0 beatdown by the Bills, the Dolphins looked like a much improved team. However, Miami playing better football — especially on defense — did not prevent the team from suffering another loss: the team dropped to 1-7 on the year after its sixth straight defeat. Accordingly, the seat of head coach Brian Flores appears to be getting warmer.

As for the game itself, it started with a quick three-and-out forced by the Miami defense. The stop would have set up a score, had the usually reliable Jason Sanders not missed a 36-yard field goal attempt wide to the left on the ensuing drive. The miss allowed Buffalo to go up 3-0, but Sanders redeemed himself in Quarter 2: he hit a 51-yard attempt to tie the game.

While both teams were on the board at that point, the contest remained a defensive affair — one that saw Miami make a big play late in the second quarter. With only 53 seconds left on the clock, the team stopped Buffalo on a 4th-and-4, taking over possession at the Bills’ 41-yard line with all three timeouts available.

However, the Dolphins failed to capitalize: Miami did drive deep into the Buffalo red zone, but the drive ended when Austin Reiter’s snap hit tight end Mike Gesicki to force a fumble that was recovered by the defense. Gesicki had motioned across the formation, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa aligned in a shotgun look. The turnover ended a promising scoring opportunity and kept the game at 3-3 heading into halftime.

Miami’s offensive issues continued in the third quarter. After going three-and-out on its first two possessions, the Dolphins defense finally broke: the unit surrendered a seven-minute drive that ended with the game’s first touchdown. Another three-and-out later, the Bills were up 17-3.

In dire need of some points, Miami scored its first touchdown of the day. Tagovailoa snuck into the end zone from a yard away; he then added a two-point pass to Gesicki to bring his team within six. Now, the pressure was on the defense to regain its earlier form and force another stop.

It couldn’t. Buffalo took six minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter to go up 20-11 on another field goal. The Dolphins had a chance to get off the field on a 3rd-and-11 in Bills territory, but instead they gave up a 20-yard pass play.

With the game seemingly out of reach, Tagovailoa threw an interception that allowed Buffalo to score another touchdown three plays later.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.