AFC East Report: Patriots back in the division lead after week 5

Death, taxes, and the New England Patriots leading the AFC East. While the team started the year slowly at at one points was two games behind in the division, it has quickly climbed up the standings again. After their 38-24 victory over the visiting Indianapolis Colts last Thursday, the Patriots are now back in the AFC East driver’s seat thanks to the second straight defeat by:

2. Miami Dolphins (3-2)

Week 5: 27-17 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cincinnati OH

After starting the year 3-0, the Miami Dolphins have now dropped back-to-back games and as a result lost the division lead on a tiebreaker to the Patriots – and it all happened despite the team going up 17-0 during its week five contest against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, self-inflicted mistakes and inopportune play in the second half allowed the home team back into the game and ultimately take away a win.

The contest’s first big play was made by Miami’s defense: after letting the Bengals drive into the red zone, linebacker Kiko Alonso (4 TKLs, 1 INT) registered an interception. While Miami failed to take advantage of the takeaway, the team still went up 7-0. Two drives after Alonso’s pick, the Dolphins went on a 11-play, 95-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill (20/35, 185 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs) to Kenyan Drake (13 touches/115 yds, 1 TD).

After the touchdown it was the Miami special teams unit’s turn to make big plays. First, defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (2 TKLs, 1 BLK) blocked a Bengals field goal attempt. One possession later, Jakeem Grant (6 total returns/175 yds, 1 TD) returned a Cincinnati punt for a 71-yard touchdown to give the Dolphins a 14-0 lead at the half. On their first offensive series after the break, Miami was able to increase its lead to 17-0.

From that point on, all went downhill. First, the team gave up a field goal to make it a two-possession game again. After an offensive three-and-out, momentum shifted further to the Bengals as they scored their first touchdown of the day. Only five plays later, the game was tied: Tannehill tried to get rid of the football to avoid a sack but instead threw it right to defensive edge Michael Johnson (3 TKLs, 1 INT), who returned the interception for a score.

Miami failed to answer and after another punt had to watch Cincinnati take a three-point lead with only 3:33 left in the game. Four plays after the field goal, the home team effectively shut down the Dolphins’ hopes for a win: Tannehill was sacked, lost the football, and the recovery was again returned for a Bengals touchdown. Miami’s quarterback threw a second interception on the next drive but it did nothing to change the final score.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

3. Buffalo Bills (2-3)

Week 5: 13-12 win against the Tennessee Titans, in Orchard Park NY

Coming off a 22-0 loss in Green Bay, the Buffalo Bills were able to bounce back against the visiting Tennessee Titans to record their second win of the year. The team set the tone from the very first drive of the game: four plays after receiving the opening kickoff, the Titans turned the football over thanks to Bills linebacker Matt Milano (10 TKLs, 1 FR) recovering a fumble forced by fellow defender Tremaine Edmunds (8 TKLs, 1 FF).

Buffalo’s offense made the most of the takeaway and marched 47 yards in 11 plays to go up 7-0 on a 14-yard touchdown run by quarterback Josh Allen (10/19, 82 yds, 1 INT). The game then turned into a mostly defensive affair with the next big play being another takeaway by the Bills defense. After a field goal by Tennessee made it a 7-3 game, cornerback Taron Taron Johnson (4 TKLs, 1 INT) ended the Titans’ next series with an interception.

The Bills almost were able to turn the takeaway into more points but a field goal attempt after the ensuing drive was botched and ended with ex-Patriots punter Corey Bojorquez (4/43.8 avg) throwing an incomplete pass. Instead, Tennessee added points to the scoreboard next: as time expired in half one, the team scored on a 54-yard field goal to make it a one-point contest.

Neither team was able to generate much offense early in the third quarter, with Buffalo’s defense again producing a turnover. Shaq Lawson (1 TKL, 1 FF) forced ex-Patriot Dion Lewis (12/34 yds) to fumble and the recovery by Jordan Poyer (3 TKLs, 1 FR) set up a Bills field goal. However, the team’s inability to turn its last two takeaways into touchdowns allowed Tennessee to stay in the game and ultimately take the lead: following a field goal, a Josh Allen interception led to another successful kick and a 12-10 Titans lead.

With under five minutes left in the game, Buffalo’s mostly inconsistent offense was forced to answer – and it did, driving from its own 25-yard line to the Titans 28 in 10 plays to set up Stephen Hauschka’s (2/2) game-winning 46-yard field goal as time expired. A surprising outcome.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

4. New York Jets (2-3)

Week 5: 34-16 win against the Denver Broncos, in East Rutherford NJ

After three straight losses, the New York Jets are back in the win column thanks to a dominant victory over the Denver Broncos. Behind a big-play offense that was especially productive on the ground – New York had 323 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries – and an opportunistic defense with a knack to make plays at the perfect moment, the team blew out the visiting Broncos with a score of 34-16.

New York started the game badly. On the second play of the team’s first offensive possession, Bilal Powell (20/99 yds) lost a fumble that set up a Broncos touchdown three plays later. The Jets’ next possession did not go much better as it ended with a missed field goal attempt. The team was finally able to get on the board on its very next offensive play: early in the second quarter, Isaiah Crowell (15/219 yds, 1 TD) broke free for a 77-yard touchdown.

One possession later, the team added to its lead thanks to another big play – a 76-yard scoring pass from Sam Darnold (10/22, 198 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT) to Robby Anderson (3/123 yds, 2 TDs). Denver added a field goal shortly thereafter, but it did not break the Jets’ momentum: the team answered with Darnold’s second touchdown pass of the day – a 35-yarder to Anderson – to head into halftime with a 21-10 lead.

While the third quarter started with an interception by New York’s rookie quarterback, the team still was on the board first by adding a field goal on its second drive. Gang Green scored on another kick early in the fourth period before it was time for the defense’s next big play: after the unit had been efficient all day long, it was also able to stop Denver on a fourth down attempt with nine minutes left in the game.

The stop set up another New York touchdown – a 20-yard pass from Darnold to Terrelle Pryor (1/20 yds, 1 TD) – that all but secured the home team a victory. While Denver added a touchdown late, an interception on the last play of the game ended the contest in the Jets’ favor.

To watch highlights of the game, click here.

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