The 14th week of the NFL regular season is in the books, and it was an eventful one even with the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins on a bye. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets still took the field, after all, and suffered some big losses: Buffalo’s widened its gap to the Patriots, while New York’s officially eliminated the team from playoff contention.
With that said, let’s dive straight in. Welcome to the new edition of the AFC East Report.
1. New England Patriots (9-4)
Week 14: Bye
Week 15: at Indianapolis Colts
Week 16: vs. Buffalo Bills
Week 17: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 18: at Miami Dolphins
Coming out of their bye as the leaders in both the AFC East and the conference as a whole, the Patriots will face a challenging four-game stretch to close out the regular season. They will go up against back-to-back opponents currently in the playoff picture, before a game versus the lowly Jaguars. The regular season finale in Miami, meanwhile, could have major postseason implications for both teams.
2. Buffalo Bills (7-6)
Week 14: 33-27 (OT) loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in Tampa FL
After going up against his former team in Week 13, the Bills had to face Tom Brady and the reigning world champion Buccaneers in Week 14. The result was the same as the week before, another “L” being added to Buffalo’s win-loss column. The overtime defeat dropped the team to 7-6 on the year — barely in the playoff picture as the seventh seed in the AFC and looking up even further to New England now.
The game itself started with a quick three-and-out forced by the Bills defense, but the team’s offense was unable to capitalize. Instead, the Buccaneers took the first lead of the game thanks to a 47-yard touchdown run by Leonard Fournette. They added a field goal on their next possession.
The visitors, meanwhile, had to wait until the second quarter to finally get on the board themselves — Buffalo scored its first three points of the day thanks to a 21-yard Tyler Bass field goal. Momentum continued to reside with the home team, however. Tom Brady and company added two more touchdowns before the half to take a 24-3 lead.
For comparison, all the Bills offense was able to manage before intermission was a punt, a Josh Allen interception and a short drive that went nowhere.
The second half initially did not go any better — Buffalo earned one first down before having to punt the ball away — but the Bills defense made one of the biggest plays of the day on its first series: the unit stopped the Buccaneers on 4th-and-2 to set up a nine-play, 81-yard drive that ended with the team’s first touchdown of the day; Josh Allen reached the end zone himself from 18 yards out.
While Tampa Bay added another field goal to go up 27-10 in the early fourth quarter, the game was far from over. The Bills scored two quick touchdowns on throws to Dawson Knox and Gabriel Davis and made two more key stops on defense: they forced a three-and-out between those touchdown drives and prevented the Buccaneers from draining clock after the second score.
Down 27-24, Josh Allen and company therefore had a chance to drive for the victory with three minutes left. The team did march into scoring range, but an incomplete pass on third down forced the Bills to settle for a field goal, and to try their luck in overtime.
They indeed won the coin toss to open the extra period, but went three-and-out. A terrific 61-yard Matt Haack punt set up the defense in promising field position — the Buccaneers had to start at their own 6-yard line — but it did not matter: Tom Brady did as Tom Brady does, ending the game with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman.
To watch highlights of the game, click here.
3. Miami Dolphins (6-7)
Week 14: Bye
Week 15: vs. New York Jets
Week 16: at New Orleans Saints
Week 17: at Tennessee Titans
Week 18: vs. New England Patriots
Winners of five straight, the Dolphins will leave their bye week with two winnable games against New York and New Orleans. The back-two of their post-bye schedule, however, are daunting: the Titans and Patriots are currently the top two seeds in the AFC playoff picture and among the best teams in the league.
4. New York Jets (3-10)
Week 14: 30-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints, in East Rutherford NJ
The writing was already on the wall but now it is official: the longest playoff drought in the NFL continues, with the Jets failing to qualify for the tournament for a 11th straight year. Their 30-9 loss to the Saints was not their undoing per se, but merely the final nail in New York’s postseason coffin.
The Jets opened the game on offense but after a quick three-and-out had to punt the ball to their opponent. The Saints then embarked on a 14-play series that covered 65 yards and ended with a field goal. After going three-and-out two more times, the Jets were able to even the score in the early second period due to a 36-yard Eddy Piñeiro field goal.
New Orleans scored the game’s first touchdown later that period, but the Jets were able to add another field goal — this one from 46 yards out — to keep the game close heading into the half.
The Jets defense forced a quick punt to open the third quarter, but the offense could not capitalize. Instead, the Saints were able to add another three points to their lead to cap off a 15-play drive that took nine minutes off the clock. New York answered with its fifth three-and-out of the day, which in turn allowed the visitors to score another field goal and take a 16-6 lead in the early fourth quarter.
Down 10 points, the Jets were in dire need of some points. Instead, however, they turned the football over when a Zach Wilson pass attempt on 4th-and-6 fell incomplete. Eight plays later, New Orleans scored another touchdown to go up 23-6 with less than six minutes left on the clock.
The Jets did manage to score another field goal on their next drive followed by a defensive stop, but their fate was sealed when Wilson threw incomplete on another fourth down. The Saints added one more touchdown to finalize the score at 30-9.
To watch highlights of the game, click here.