AFC East: 2012 Week 12 Rapid Reaction
November, 25, 2012
By James Walker | ESPN.com
MIAMI -- Here are some thoughts on the Miami Dolphins’ 24-21 victory over the Seattle Seahawks:
What it means: The Dolphins improve to 5-6 and snap a three-game losing streak. Seattle is a tough team that owns victories over the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. So this victory by the Dolphins counts as one of the best of the season. It shows the Dolphins are not going to lie down the rest of the season and are still mathematically in the playoff hunt. At the very least, Miami has something to play for in December.
Tannehill edges Wilson: Sunday’s game presented an underrated battle of rookie quarterbacks. Seattle third-round pick Russell Wilson showed his athleticism and elusiveness. He threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for an additional 38 yards. Ryan Tannehill overcame some early adversity and showed mental toughness. He threw for 253 yards, one touchdown and an interception. But Tannehill did his best work on the final drive by getting Miami in field goal position. Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter nailed a 44-yard field goal to end the game. Tannehill improved to 1-1 against fellow rookie quarterbacks this season. He lost to Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts in October.
AFC East flashback: Former New York Jets tailback Leon Washington, now with the Seahawks, stuck it to his former rival with a big play in the fourth quarter. Washington returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Washington played many games in Miami as a member of the Jets and probably enjoyed producing against his former division rival.
Run defense returns: Miami’s usually stout run defense has fallen off in recent weeks. But the Dolphins made it a point to stuff Seattle tailback Marshawn Lynch. The Dolphins held Lynch to just 46 yards on 19 carries.
What’s next: The Dolphins continue their toughest stretch of the season. Next week they host the reigning AFC champion Patriots (8-3) at Sun Life Stadium.
November, 22, 2012
By Mike Reiss | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rapid reaction from the Patriots’ 49-19 victory over the Jets at MetLife Stadium:
What it means. Impressive. Dominating. The Patriots improve to 8-3 and remain in firm control of the AFC East, as the Bills (4-6), Dolphins (4-6) and Jets (4-7) are well behind them. In terms of the overall AFC picture, they are still looking up at the Texans (10-1) and Ravens (8-2), while the Broncos (7-3) are right there.
Offensive explosion in 5 days. After beating the Colts 59-24 on Sunday, and pasting the Jets in this game, it had researchers digging up the last time a team scored as many points in back-to-back weeks. One ESPN Stats & Information researcher was double-checking if the answer was indeed the 1950 Rams, as it initially appeared to be.
Three touchdowns in 52 seconds ... really. The teams played a scoreless first quarter, and at that point, one had to say it was a victory for the Jets. Quarterback Tom Brady was struggling to develop a rhythm and the Jets were hanging tough. But then the Patriots exploded for three touchdowns in 52 seconds -- a Shane Vereen 83-yard touchdown catch-and-run, a Steve Gregory 32-yard fumble return when Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ran into his own lineman and a Julian Edelman 22-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Researchers were checking if that was some type of record. The Patriots' defense and special teams, once again, came up with the big turnovers as that is a big part of their identity.
Belichick hits 200. Head coach Bill Belichick recorded his 200th career victory, becoming the eighth head coach in the history of the NFL to reach that mark. That it came against the Jets had to be sweet for him.
Life without Gronkowski, Part I. One of the big questions leading into the game was how the Patriots would fill the Rob Gronkowski’s void for the first time, and in this game, they did it with six-year veteran Daniel Fells, who had been a healthy scratch in Sunday’s win over the Colts. The Patriots ran the majority of their plays in the 2 WR/2 TE/1 RB grouping (53 of 66 snaps when Brady was in the game), which they preferred because the Jets matched with their nickel defense, and didn’t miss a beat (Fells had one catch for 24 yards). The return of tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was playing for the first time since Oct. 21 and was on for 57 snaps, helped the cause.
Edelman concussion. On the injury front, Edelman left the game in the third quarter with a concussion and did not return. That was the only injury announced by the team. If there are long-term effects, this leaves the Patriots thin at receiver as Edelman was No. 3 on the depth chart and special-teamer Matthew Slater is next. If Deion Branch (hamstring) is healthy, he could be a candidate to return. Another option could be to re-sign Greg Salas, who was waived Thursday, if he isn’t claimed by another team.
Patriots write Jets’ obituary. The Jets entered the game at 4-6 and were playing for their season. The effort they put forth, coupled with the beatdown delivered by the Patriots, raises major questions about them and their future under general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan.
What’s next. The Patriots travel to South Florida to face the Dolphins on Sunday, Dec. 2. The Jets host the Cardinals that day.