AFC East: 2012 Week 6 coverage

Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 24, Patriots 23

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
7:44
PM ET

SEATTLE -- Rapid reaction from the Patriots’ 24-23 loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field:

PatriotsSeahawksWhat it means. The Patriots led for most of the game and had a chance to put the Seahawks away, but their inability to drop the hammer cost them the game. That is one area that has mostly eluded the team this year -- the ability to finish off an opponent. The Patriots left a lot of points on the field and kept the “12th Man” -- Seattle’s spirited crowd -- in the game throughout. The Patriots fall to 3-3.

Secondary in shambles. The Patriots were playing with rookies Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson at safety at the end of the game, a result of injuries and a lack of depth. The Seahawks capitalized with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice off play-action, as he split the safeties. Overall, the secondary had a very tough day.

Not Brady’s best day. The Patriots decided that the passing game was the best way to attack the Seahawks, and while quarterback Tom Brady produced some solid numbers, this wasn’t a performance up to Brady’s high standard. He entered the game with just one interception on the season, but had two on the day. He also had an intentional grounding penalty on a throw through the back of the end zone at the end of the second quarter that cost the team a chance at three points.

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Game management a downer. The Patriots' coaching staff didn't have its best day, either. Timeouts were burned, the sequence at the end of the second quarter cost the team three points and a third timeout, which could have been valuable on the final drive, was burned when the defense had 12 men on the field. Uncharacteristic of a Bill Belichick-coached team.

Welker’s toughness shines through. Receiver Wes Welker turned in another Welker-like performance. The stretch of plays that perhaps best defined his work came in the second quarter when he absorbed a crunching hit, missed three plays, then returned to the field and promptly caught a pass for a first down. The stats look impressive for Welker, but this was a game where the stats don’t even tell the story when it comes to Welker. So tough and so valuable to this offense. He was one of the bright spots.

Bolden, Chung & Slater are injury situations to monitor. Rookie running back Brandon Bolden left the game in the second quarter after hobbling off from covering a kickoff that went for a touchback. The Patriots announced that Bolden had a knee injury, and he didn’t return. In addition, safety Patrick Chung left for the locker room in the fourth quarter with team doctor Thomas Gill and appeared to be favoring his arm. The team announced that Chung had a shoulder injury. Finally, special-teams captain Matthew Slater limped off after covering a punt in the fourth quarter and didn't return. Receiver Brandon Lloyd was shaken up late but returned to the game.

What’s next. The Patriots return to Gillette Stadium on Sunday to entertain the Jets, who scored a big win over the Colts on Sunday. The Seahawks have a quick turnaround with a trip to San Francisco on Thursday night.

Wrap-up: Bills 19, Cardinals 16 (OT)

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
7:42
PM ET
Thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 19-16 overtime win over the Arizona Cardinals:

What it means: This was a gut-check game for the Bills. After getting pounded two straight weeks, Buffalo responded and finally showed toughness to win an overtime game on the road. So this win was important to get the Bills (3-3) back to .500.

What I liked: Overall, I liked Buffalo's toughness. Talent was never an issue. The Bills matched physicality with the Cardinals. Buffalo tailbacks C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson combined for 141 rushing yards and two touchdowns. On defense, a lot of things came in twos. Bills safety Jairus Byrd recorded two big interceptions, including one in overtime to set up Buffalo's winning kick. After heavy criticism, Bills defensive end Mario Williams responded with a two-sack performance. Buffalo linebacker Nick Barnett also registered two sacks. The Cardinals' offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL, and Buffalo took advantage.

What I didn't like: Why Brad Smith is in the game throwing passes late in the fourth quarter is mind-boggling. There are times for trick plays, and that wasn't it. Smith threw a big interception to Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson that set up Jay Feely's 61-yard field goal at the end of regulation. I blame poor coaching on that one more than Smith. But otherwise, the Bills pulled through in overtime with a gutsy effort.

What's next: After back-to-back road games, the Bills will return home for a meeting with the Tennessee Titans (2-4). Tennessee has struggled this season but is coming off a big upset against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans have 10 days to prepare for the Bills, who cannot have a letdown.

Rapid Reaction: Jets 35, Colts 9

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
4:22
PM ET


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Jets played their best all-around game of the season, overwhelming the young and rebuilding Colts 35-9 at MetLife Stadium. The Jets (3-3) snapped a two-game losing streak in what amounted to a must-win.

What it means: After four weeks of ugly and occasionally mediocre football, the Jets needed a confidence-boosting win. For one afternoon anyway, they regained their Ground & Pound identity -- Shonn Greene ran for a career-high 161 yards and three TDs -- and they played suffocating defense. They'll need the positive vibes because the Patriots are up next.

QB controversy on hold: Mark Sanchez tightened his grip on the starting job with an efficient performance against the defensively challenged Colts. Sanchez (11-for-18, 82 yards, no interceptions) threw a couple of 5-yard TD passes, fitting the ball into tight windows. Obviously, he benefited from a strong running game and sound pass protection, but give him credit: He didn't let the speculation about his job security bother him. Biggest positive: The Jets didn't commit a turnover for the first time in 17 games.

In the Nick of Tim: For a change, the Jets seemed to have a plan for Tim Tebow. He played only six snaps on offense, but he made a key play -- a third-and-1 run out of shotgun, setting up a TD. It was a clever play by coordinator Tony Sparano. He emptied the backfield and let Tebow run it up the gut from the Colts' 8. Moments earlier, Tebow the personal protector made the biggest play of the game. Yep, another fake punt. He took a direct snap and threw a little jump pass to LB Nick Bellore, who ran like an over-caffeinated madman for 23 yards. Great call, great execution.

Greene day: Nice of you to join the season, Mr. Greene. Running with the determination of a man concerned about his starting job, Greene produced his first 100-yard rushing day in 10 games. He scored three touchdowns (10, 4 and 2 yards), including -- are you ready for this? -- a nifty spin move on one TD. He escaped S Antoine Bethea behind the line, showing vision and quick feet. This was a different Greene. He demonstrated cutback ability and elusiveness, capitalizing on a dominant performance by the offensive line.

Ground & Pound: The Jets rushed for a season-high 252 yards, hammering an overmatched Colts front seven. The highlight was a 61-yard run by Joe McKnight, their longest run in three years. It was a vintage performance by the offensive linemen. They took a smashmouth approach, using a lot of two-TE packages. At times, the Jets used two tight ends in the backfield. There were some nice wrinkles in the running attack, but the story of the game was brute force. The Jets were too strong at the point of attack. Don't throw a parade, though: The Colts' run defense is awful. Their base defense had been allowing 5.1 yards per carry, worst in the league for a 3-4 team.

On the downside: Greene might have to carry the running game in the coming weeks because Bilal Powell (shoulder) and McKnight (ankle) left the game with injuries. The only other healthy back is rookie Jonathan Grimes.

Tough Luck, kid: Colts QB Andrew Luck (22-for-44, 280 yards, two interceptions) will be a great player someday -- but this wasn't his day. He was pressured by a previously nonexistent Jets pass rush, threw two interceptions, missed open receivers and couldn't get the ball to his go-to receiver, Reggie Wayne. CB Antonio Cromartie (three penalties) did a nice job on Wayne, intercepting one pass and holding him to three catches for 32 yards. The Jets' young linemen, Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson, played their best game. Pass-rusher Aaron Maybin also joined the party.

What's ahead: The Jets hit the road for the first time in a month, facing the first-place Patriots (3-2). The Jets have dropped three of the past four in the series.

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 17, Rams 14

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
4:16
PM ET

MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the Dolphins' 17-14 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

What it means: After a slow 1-3 start, the Dolphins have won two in a row to climb back to .500 (3-3). Miami is overachieving beyond most people's expectations. This is projected to be a rebuilding year with a rookie quarterback, but Miami is a tough out each week and starting to win close games.

Tannehill stands tall: The Rams' defense knows how to get after the quarterback. One week after sacking Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb nine times, St. Louis sacked Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill two times and hit him three additional times. But Tannehill stood tall and fought back with 185 yards and two touchdown passes. Tannehill's passer rating was 112.0.

Third option: All season, the Dolphins have been waiting for a third receiver to step up opposite starters Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. It turns out Marlon Moore finally shows up in Week 6. Moore recorded three receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown. Opponents are focusing so much more on Hartline and Bess that it opens up opportunities for other players like Moore to step up.

Good field goal karma: This season, it has been the Dolphins missing key field goals. But that luck changed on Sunday, as the Rams missed two big attempts that were costly in the first half. St. Louis kicker Greg Zuerlein was 2-for-5, and the trio of misses haunted the Rams. Miami kicker Dan Carpenter, who has struggled this season, made his only field goal attempt.

What's next: The Dolphins have a much-needed bye week to rest and get healthy. Miami will play three of its next four games on the road, and it starts with a big division road game Oct. 28 against the rival New York Jets. New York won the first meeting in a 23-20 overtime thriller in Week 3.

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