AFC East: 2012 Week 14 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: 49ers 27, Dolphins 13

December, 9, 2012

Here are some thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 27-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins:

What it means: The Dolphins lost their fifth game in six weeks and fall to 5-8 on the season. Similar to the Buffalo Bills' loss Sunday, this game ends any realistic chance Miami had of getting a wild card. No one expected Miami to win this game on the road against one of the top teams in the NFC. But the Dolphins played hard and kept it competitive until the final minutes.

What I liked: Miami packed its defense on the road. The Dolphins matched the physical 49ers hit for hit and kept the 49ers to just six points in the first half. San Francisco didn't get a third-down conversion until late in the third quarter, but Miami's defense eventually wore down late. Miami defensive end Cameron Wake continued his Pro Bowl-level play with three more sacks. Miami tailback Reggie Bush also was more involved in the offense and accounted for 103 total yards.

What I didn’t like: Miami’s special teams were awful. First, linebacker Jonathan Freeney had a brain cramp when he grabbed the football but failed to down it inside the 5-yard line. Freeney inexplicably trotted inside the end zone for a touchback. Then, Dolphins return man Marcus Thigpen muffed a punt inside Miami's 10-yard line in the third quarter to set up a San Francisco touchdown. Plays such as this in the third phase are costly in a competitive game. Dolphins rookie Jonathan Martin struggled in his first start at left tackle. Aldon Smith beat him for two sacks. Martin is auditioning to potentially replace Jake Long next season. Long is on injured reserve with a triceps injury and will be an unrestricted free agent.

What's next: The Dolphins will return home to face the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11). It will mark the return of former Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, who played in Miami from 2008 to '11.

Wrap-up: Rams 15, Bills 12

December, 9, 2012

Some thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 15-12 loss to the St. Louis Rams:

What it means: The Bills blow another game late and fall to 5-8. That puts any chance Buffalo had for a wild card to rest. It's fitting because questionable play in the fourth quarter has been the story of the Bills' season. They lost their fourth game by a touchdown or less Sunday against St. Louis. There will certainly be more questions about the coaching decisions that allowed St. Louis to hang around and eventually win the game.

What I liked: Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams continued his solid play. Williams had a sack and forced fumble in the first half. Williams now has 10.5 sacks on the season and is the first Bill to post double-digit sacks since Aaron Schobel in 2009. Buffalo's defense failed to make the final stop when the team needed it most, but it was a solid performance for three quarters. Bills No. 1 receiver Steve Johnson also played through a hamstring injury and caught six passes for 71 yards.

What I didn’t like: The Bills controlled the pace of the game but couldn't put the Rams away. Buffalo let the Rams hang around too long, and that usually results in a loss. St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford threw a late touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Gibson with less than a minute remaining to win the game. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a chance to get his team in field goal range but threw another late interception on the final drive. Buffalo also botched an extra point in the third quarter, which you don't see often in the NFL. It's head scratching again that Buffalo tailback C.J. Spiller only gets seven carries in a close game. Bills tailback Fred Jackson's poor luck with injuries continued, as he suffered a leg ailment in the fourth quarter and didn't return.

What’s next: The Bills will conclude their three-game home stand next week against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle is 2-1 against the AFC East this season with wins over the New England Patriots and New York Jets.