AFC East: 2013 Week 3 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Jets 27, Bills 20

September, 22, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Jets' 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Jets (2-1) are lucky because they played an embarrassingly sloppy game, setting a team record with 20 penalties for 168 yards. Cornerback Kyle Wilson lost his composure in spectacular fashion, committing three penalties on one drive. They blew a 20-6 lead and tried to give it away. In the end, the Jets overcame the penalties and questionable replay challenges by Rex Ryan. In between the flags, they played enough good offense and enough good defense to prevail over the Bills (1-2). The Jets managed a 300-yard passer (Geno Smith), a 100-yard rusher (Bilal Powell) and two 100-yard receivers (Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill). They produced the most yards (513) in the Ryan era. The defense recorded eight sacks. Ryan should take this game tape and burn it. This marked the second straight game his team lost its poise.

Stock watch: Smith outplayed EJ Manuel in the battle of rookie quarterbacks, but Smith was up and down. At times, he was fantastic, especially on deep throws -- 51- and 69-yard scoring passes. The Jets run a West Coast offense, but Marty Mornhinweg likes to incorporate a vertical element, and that was on display. On the downside, Smith suffered his third straight multiturnover day, this time with two interceptions. His total increased to six, way too many for the Jets to compete against the better teams in the league. But say this for Smith: He kept slinging, undaunted by the adversity. He rose up in the fourth quarter and made a great throw to Holmes for the game-winning score.

Revenge of the receivers: The Jets' maligned receiving corps, which embarrassed itself last week with a six-drop nightmare, regained some dignity with a big game against the Bills' depleted secondary. History tells us the Bills are the ideal tonic for the Jets' ills (see last season's opener). Hill and Holmes combined for eight catches for 262 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown by Hill -- the first scoring reception by a Jets wideout in 270 pass attempts, dating to last Nov. 18.

Teacher schools pupil: The Jets executed Ryan's defense a whole lot better than the Bills ran their version of the system under former Ryan protege Mike Pettine. Constantly battling poor field position, the Jets defense neutralized the Bills' playmakers. Running back C.J. Spiller and receiver Stevie Johnson combined for only 87 yards. Ryan mixed pressure and coverage, which confused Manuel, who was sacked eight times and was out of sync all day. Spiller left with an injury.

What's next: The Jets hit the road to face the Tennessee Titans (2-1) at the scene of last season's Monday night meltdown that resulted in Mark Sanchez's benching.

Rapid Reaction: Jets 27, Bills 20

September, 22, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 27-20 loss to the New York Jets:

What it means for Bills: The Bills were outplayed handily by the Jets in the game, but turnovers and penalties -- the Jets had 20 of them for 168 yards -- allowed the Bills to stay in this one. Buffalo tied it at 20 early in the fourth quarter on a wild possession that included six penalties (not all were accepted) between the two teams. However, the Jets responded quickly with a 69-yard touchdown pass, and the Bills' offense couldn't keep up. The Bills now fall to last place in the division.

Stock watch: Falling -- Justin Rogers. The third-year pro was thrust into a big role in Sunday's game, and the Jets targeted him frequently. Geno Smith connected with Santonio Holmes (69 yards) and Stephen Hill (51 yards) for touchdowns with Rogers in coverage. Rogers, though, had an impressive pass break-up on what would have been a third touchdown.

Spiller, Dareus, McKelvin, Carrington injured: The Bills had several key players leave the game with injuries. C.J. Spiller, after gaining just 9 yards on 10 carries, left in the third quarter with a knee injury. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle) limped off in the third quarter and did not return. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin went down with a hamstring injury in the first half and did not return. In his place, the Bills moved safety Aaron Williams back to cornerback. Defensive lineman Alex Carrington was also carted off on the final drive of the game, while guard Kraig Urbik (knee) left in the second quarter but returned.

Bills anemic in red zone: Kicker Dan Carpenter was 4-for-4 on field goals, but his strong day was in large part due to the Bills faltering in the red zone. Their lone touchdown of the game came on a 33-yard pass from EJ Manuel to tight end Scott Chandler.

Manuel's rough day: Rookie quarterback Manuel went 19-for-41 for 243 yards. He did not throw an interception but was sacked eight times by the Jets, who had him on his heels all game. He had several overthrows and misfires that might be expected of a rookie passer.

What's next: The Bills (1-2) return home to face the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, their third home contest in their first four games.

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 27, Falcons 23

September, 22, 2013

MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 27-23 victory against the Atlanta Falcons:

What it means: The Dolphins are just one of five teams to improve to 3-0 to start the season. The Chicago Bears (2-0) have a chance to become the sixth undefeated team with a win Sunday night. It surely wasn’t pretty for Miami. The Dolphins needed a fourth-quarter comeback from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw the game-winning touchdown to rookie tight end Dion Sims, and a little luck in the form of a missed 34-yard field goal late by Matt Bryant. For the Falcons (1-2), this is another heartbreaking loss for a talented team that is having trouble closing out games. Many believed Atlanta had potential to go the Super Bowl in the preseason. But its failure to finish is a major concern.

Stock watch: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan got off to a fast start, completing 15 of his first 17 passes. Julio Jones had another big game with nine receptions for 115 yards. Tannehill was beaten up but kept his composure with several big throws on the final drive. He threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Trending down was Miami’s surprisingly poor tackling against Atlanta. The Dolphins missed on numerous opportunities for key stops because of not finishing plays. Atlanta receiver Harry Douglas didn’t do much on offense (one reception, nine yards) and lost a key fumble in the second half on special teams.

Wake injury: Miami Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake suffered a knee injury in the second quarter and didn’t return to the game. He remained dressed the rest of the game but didn’t return. Wake is Miami’s best pass-rusher and would be a big loss if he has to miss future games. Miami starting outside linebacker Koa Misi also injured his shoulder in the second half and didn’t return.

What’s next: This was a big game for both teams. The Falcons will host the undefeated New England Patriots (3-0) in a big game next week at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta could be in big trouble if it starts 1-3. The Dolphins will travel next week for a huge clash against the undefeated New Orleans SaintsNew Orleans Saints (3-0) on “Monday Night Football.”

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 23, Bucs 3

September, 22, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Thoughts on the New England Patriots' 23-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

What it means: The Patriots improve to 3-0 for the first time since their undefeated 2007 regular season. Some ineptitude from the Buccaneers helped their cause, but this was also a day in which the Patriots' defense continued to play well and the team's rookie receivers turned in their best game of the season.

Dobson and Thompkins bounce back: After more than a week of talk about quarterback Tom Brady's on-field frustration with his young receivers, the kids responded well. Specifically, second-round pick Aaron Dobson rose up with a strong effort, after struggling to hold on to the ball last week, while Kenbrell Thompkins caught two touchdowns. There still figures to be growing pains ahead, but this was a step in the right direction for the Patriots' rookie pass-catchers. If anything, it was Brady himself who was a bit off in this game based on his usual standard.

Stock watch: Rising -- cornerback Aqib Talib. Playing against his former team, he matched up against receiver Vincent Jackson in critical situations and also intercepted a Josh Freeman pass late in the second quarter to set up a 53-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. Talib now has three interceptions on the season.

Defense delivers: For the third week in a row, the Patriots' defense has been tough to crack. The unit had three fourth-down stops against the Buccaneers, which were essentially three turnovers, and added the Talib interception. They came up with the key stop in a 23-21 season-opening win over the Buffalo Bills, then held down the New York Jets in a 13-10 victory on Sept. 12. As the offense still works to find a more consistent groove, the defense has picked up the slack in a big way.

Bolden's leading role in debut: Second-year running back Brandon Bolden made his debut after missing the first two games with a knee injury and played more than 25 snaps as he was integrated into the mix alongside Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount.

Injuries to monitor: The Patriots played without tight end Rob Gronkowski (forearm/back), receiver Danny Amendola (groin) and special teams captain Matthew Slater (wrist); their status will be watched closely this week. Also, starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer didn't play in the second half because of a foot injury.

What’s next: The Patriots visit the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night.