AFC East: 2012 Week 2 coverage
September, 16, 2012
By Rich Cimini | ESPN.com
PITTSBURGH -- The Jets flipped the script from the 2010 AFC Championship Game. This time, it was a good start and a lousy finish, adding to up another loss to the Steelers, 27-10, at Heinz Field.
What it means: The Jets dropped to 1-1, falling into a four-way tie in the AFC East. The outmanned Jets, minus three starters, were outplayed in all three phases by a hungrier team. And, by the way, the Steelers didn't have two of their best players, S Troy Polamalu and LB James Harrison. They found a way, the Jets didn't.
Deep freeze: The Jets opened as if they were still playing the Bills -- a 90-yard touchdown drive on their first possession -- but they disappeared on offense. QB Mark Sanchez was 4-for-5 for 80 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive, but he completed only six of his next 22 passes for 58 yards for the rest of the game.
What happened? Santonio Holmes, who scored on a 14-yard reception, dropped two passes. Rookie Stephen Hill, unable to beat the Steelers' aggressive press coverage, couldn't get open -- no receptions. Injured TE Dustin Keller was missed badly. The running game was non-existent. The pass protection broke down. Shall we go on?
Sanchez, too, struggled. To rebound from a performance like this, the offense has to do a much better job of handling pressure, from the receivers to the quarterback. The wide receivers had no catches after the first quarter.
The Invisible Tebow: Surprisingly, the Jets used Tim Tebow for only three plays on offense. It made no sense, especially with the running game struggling. Tebow would've been the ideal change of pace -- he torched the Steelers last year in the playoffs -- but he was kept in moth balls until the third quarter. Finally, he got in for three plays, ripping off a 22-yard run on the first play. So what happened? He was sent back to the bench.
The Revis factor: Did the Jets miss Darrelle Revis (concussion), or what? Without the NFL's top corner, the Jets played more zone than usual, hoping to minimize big plays and trying to protect the vulnerable areas in the secondary. It worked -- for a while. Ben Roethlisberger is too good, too smart to keep down. The Steelers went to a quick-passing game and Big Ben found his rhythm, completing passes to 10 different receivers. More often than not, he found the best matchup.
The Jets didn't get much pressure on Roethlisberger (24-for-31, 275 yards, two TDs) with a conventional rush and, when they got close with a blitz, he found a way to brush off the rushers and located the open man. His biggest play came against the Jets' most accomplished cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, who got burned on a 37-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. He misplayed the ball in the air, letting WR Mike Wallace establish position in the end zone.
LaRon is LaBad: After an impact performance in the opener, S LaRon Landry received effusive praise from fans, media and his own coach. Rex Ryan compared him to Hall of Famer Night Train Lane. Well, Landry crashed to reality. He committed two 15-yard penalties (a late hit and a horse-collar tackle) and he missed a would-be sack of Roethlisberger, one play before Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass. Landry received a humble pie in the face. Leading into the game, he said the Jets have better defensive personnel than the Steelers. It sure didn't appear that way. Fellow S Yeremiah Bell also had a critical penalty.
Heroes to goats: Jeremy Kerley was among the stars in Week 1. Not this week. Kerley, who scored on a punt return in the opener, muffed a third-quarter punt, costing the Jets a valuable possession. It was the only turnover of the game.
What's ahead: The Jets hit the road again, facing the Dolphins (1-1) in a game that features the return of former Miami coach Tony Sparano.
September, 16, 2012
By James Walker | ESPN.com
Here are some thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 35-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs:
What it means: It means the Bills won a key game to get to .500. There are high expectations for this Buffalo team, which could not afford to fall to 0-2. The Bills took care of business against a Chiefs team they match up very well against. Buffalo jumped out to a 35-3 lead and cruised the rest of the way.
What I liked: C.J. Spiller finished Week 1 as the NFL’s leading rusher. He continued his hot streak with another stellar outing against Kansas City. Spiller rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 47 yards. Spiller is a dynamic weapon getting his opportunity to start now that Fred Jackson is out with a knee injury. But Spiller is making a strong case to be the permanent starter. The 2010 first-round draft pick produced the third multi-touchdown game of his career.
What I didn’t like: There wasn't much not to like in this game from Buffalo’s perspective. The Bills pounded the Chiefs for the second straight meeting. Perhaps the two touchdowns Buffalo allowed in garbage time weren't ideal. But that’s being nitpicky. It was a good, all-around performance by the Bills.
What’s next: The Bills have a chance to win two in a row next week when they travel to play the Cleveland Browns (0-2). Buffalo cannot have a letdown against a bad team like Cleveland. The Bills have to win these kind of road games to pad their record and stay in the postseason hunt.
September, 16, 2012
By James Walker | ESPN.com
MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the Dolphins' 35-13 blowout victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.
What it means: Miami won the first game of the Joe Philbin era in convincing fashion and got back to .500. These are the games Miami must win this season. The Dolphins were at home against an awful Oakland team coming off a short week, and Miami took care of business. The Dolphins are trying to re-establish a home-field advantage after a long stretch of struggling at Sun Life Stadium. They did a good job of jumping on the Raiders on Sunday.
Bush plays big: Miami's Reggie Bush continues to prove he can be an every-down back. Bush worked hard in the offseason to improve his durability and had one of the best games of his career. Bush rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Bush took a lot of pressure off rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who played his most consistent game of the season. Tannehill threw for 200 yards and scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing).
Hartline reliable: Miami found a reliable weapon in the passing game in Brian Hartline, who got his first start of the season. Hartline ran crisp routes and caught the ball well. He finished with nine receptions for 111 yards.
Pass defense needs work: Miami’s secondary has played shaky the first two weeks. Oakland lost the game big but had a lot of explosive passing plays against Miami's defensive backs. Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 373 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
What's next: The Dolphins have a big division game next week against the New York Jets at Sun Life Stadium. This will be the first meeting since last year’s implosion by the Jets in Week 17. It will also be the first division game for Miami this season.