AFC East week five recap: The Patriots move into first place
Week 5 for the AFC East was a positive for everyone who’s not a Dolphins fan. Miami’s loss put the Patriots back in familiar territory – on top.
The Jets and the Bills had some impressive wins of their own, respectively, to pull within just one game ahead of the division lead, even though we all know it’s New England’s to lose.
While the rest of the AFC East had good reason to celebrate, Dolphins fans had good reason to be fed up with their quarterback and current regime. Here’s a recap of how all the teams within the division squared off this past weekend.
The Dolphins lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Bengals to drop their second game in a row. For many, this was the last straw in regards to quarterback Ryan Tannehill and/or head coach Adam Gase. Despite coming into the game as 6-point underdogs, Miami held a very comfortable lead at 17-0 in the 3rd quarter.
A win on the road against a good Cincinnati team looked imminent until things fell apart. The Bengals would score 27 unanswered points for a 27-17 victory, and the loss can be held squarely on the shoulders of the quarterback and head coach. A key point to the momentum change can be placed past the halfway point of the 3rd quarter when Miami had possession on a pivotal 3rd and 1, leading 17-3.
Throughout the game, Miami’s rushing attack had been solid, led by Frank Gore, who finished the day with over 5 yards per carry. The Dolphins simply could’ve handed the ball to him on the play to get the first down, and extend the drive. Instead, Gase called a designed pass that, initially, was intended for Albert Wilson, but the Bengals had him bottled up. Now, Tannehill had the option to tuck the ball and run himself with plenty of room, but he decided to throw a deep ball pass to Kenny Stills that fell incomplete.
Miami was forced to punt, and the Bengals took the following drive for a touchdown to pull within 17-10. The Bengals would quickly tie the score up with a Tannehill interception after he threw it off the face mask of one of his linemen (yes, you read that right), and it ricocheted right into the hands of the Bengals Michael Johnson who returned it for a score.
The Dolphins would punt the ball again on their next possession. Cincinnati moved down the field and took the lead with a field goal. Any hope for a comeback was lost on the ensuing possession when Tannehill again threw a pick six.
For many Dolphins fans, this was the last straw as many turned to social media to voice their frustrations with both Tannehill and Gase for his terrible play calling. Yes, the Dolphins injuries continue to mount, and Sunday was no exception. Their left tackle, and by far their best lineman, Laremy Tunsil, was forced to exit, but by all accounts Miami should have found a way to win this game.
Owner Stephen Ross cannot be happy, and one has to wonder if everyone is on the hot seat following this season. It doesn’t get any easier for the Dolphins next week when they host a very good Chicago Bears team, led by defensive monster Khalil Mack.
New England Patriots
The Patriots helped to kickoff week 5 in their home matchup against the Colts this past Thursday night. Just four days removed from their thrashing of the Dolphins 38-7, all signs pointed to another blowout against a depleted Colts team. Indianapolis had so many injured players heading into this game that they had to list two players as active, Darius Leonard and Nate Hairston, just to fill their 46-man roster for the evening, although neither player dressed.
The injuries continued throughout the game for the Colts, and by the time the 4th quarter rolled around, they were missing 12 starters. In fairness to Indianapolis, however, that didn’t stop them from going down without a fight.
The Patriots led at halftime 24-3, but Andrew Luck brought his team back with a pair of touchdown passes to cut it to 24-17 with 12:48 remaining in the 4th quarter. Tom Brady was on fire this night, however, and he responded on the very next drive with his third touchdown pass of the night, and the 500th of his career, to the newly acquired Josh Gordon. Gordon became the 71st player to record a touchdown thrown by Brady, a new NFL record. Brady also had a one-yard touchdown run earlier in the game. The Colts would turn the ball over again on the very next possession, and Sony Michel capitalized with a 34-yard touchdown run on the very next play to extend New England’s lead back to 38-17.
Despite the loss, Indianapolis showed their competitiveness in this game, which is what I’m sure a lot of Dolphins fans would like to have seen against the Patriots in week 4. If the Colts could have done a better job at protecting the football, we probably would have seen a much tighter game, and a possible upset.
The Patriots defense still appears to be their weakest link, but they have 10 days to prepare for one of the NFL’s hottest offenses in the Kansas City Chiefs in what should be a terrific Sunday night matchup in week 6.
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New York Jets
The Jets held their first home game since their week 2 loss to the Dolphins, and by all accounts, they were glad to be home. Whether it was their ability to take advantage of the Broncos on a short week after a tough Monday night loss to the Chiefs or not, New York convincingly ran away with this one 34-16.
The Jets were unstoppable running the ball, led by Isaiah Crowell, who broke out for 219 yards on just 15 carries and a score. Crowell opened the Jets scoring early in the 2nd quarter with a 77-yard gash to the end zone. Bilal Powell added 99 yards on the ground himself, and the Jets finished with a whopping 323 yards rushing on the day.
Rookie Sam Darnold also added three touchdown passes with only 10 completions all day. The win puts the Jets at 2-3 with another winnable matchup coming up at home against an injury-riddled Colts team.
The Bills have now won two games more than they were probably projected to do all season. Okay, I’m sure they were expected to win at least a few games, but definitely not the ones they have so far. Buffalo may have surprised Minnesota in week 3, but surely the 3-1 Tennessee Titans wouldn’t overlook them two weeks later, would they? Well, whether or not they were overlooking them, they didn’t come out of Buffalo with a win.
The Titans offense has failed to show consistency to the start of the season, and often at times, it has been pretty ugly. For the second game this season, they failed to score a touchdown, relying instead on 4 Ryan Succop field goals. They almost pulled away with it too like they did in Jacksonville in week 3, but a 46-yard Steven Hauschka field goal as time expired gave the Bills the 13-12 win.
Going into the season, expectations were very low for the Bills, and truthfully, they still are. In their eyes, however, they are just one game out of the division lead, and will convince themselves all they can that they belong. Despite some massive blowout losses to start the season, you have to admire the fight that Sean McDermott is inserting into his team. Buffalo will be at Houston next Sunday.