AFC East: 2013 Week 7 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: New York Jets

October, 20, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Jets' 30-27 overtime win over the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Jets (4-3) snapped a five-game losing streak against the Patriots (5-2), jumping back into the AFC East race. They also snapped the Patriots' 12-game winning streak against AFC East opponents. The Jets are lucky, benefiting from an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Chris Jones in overtime. It gave Nick Folk a second crack at the game-winning field goal, and he nailed it from 42 yards. Shades of the Lavonte David penalty in the Week 1 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Stock watch: Geno Smith shook off a horrible first-quarter interception (returned for a touchdown) and went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady over the final 16 minutes. Smith wasn't too efficient (17-for-33, 233 yards), but he displayed pocket presence with two huge scrambles on the same drive in the third quarter. Somehow, he ran through three defenders on an eight-yard touchdown run. Smith's mobility is one of the reasons why the team preferred him over Mark Sanchez in the preseason. It wasn't a clean game for Smith (now has 11 interceptions), but it was a dramatic improvement from his Week 2 performance in New England, where he imploded in the fourth quarter.

Special K: Receiver Jeremy Kerley was a beast on third down, catching six passes for first downs. After not playing in the Week 2 meeting, he was a matchup nightmare for the Patriots' secondary, which played without star cornerback Aqib Talib. The Jets relied heavily on Kerley and running back Chris Ivory, who ran for a season-high 104 yards against the Patriots' depleted front seven. Ivory questioned his role last week, and sure enough, it was expanded. Curiously, Bilal Powell didn't play much. He had been dealing with a minor neck injury. Tight end Jeff Cumberland hurt the Jets with two costly drops.

All over Brady: What more can you do? The Jets played another terrific game against Brady, recording four sacks, holding the Patriots to 1-of-12 on third down and limiting Brady to 22-of-46 for 228 yards. They held the Patriots to two field goals in the second half. Clearly, the Jets' defense is no fluke; they have a terrific foundation.

Double A: Second-year safety Antonio Allen made the defensive play of the game, returning an interception 23 yards for a touchdown to start the second half. Not only did it slice the Patriots' lead to 21-17, but it also revived the defense and the crowd. It was the Jets' first interception in 226 pass attempts (Week 1) and their first against Brady in 182 attempts (2011). Allen drew the toughest assignment of the day: tight end Rob Gronkowski, who tied a career high with eight catches in his season debut. All things considered, Allen did a solid job, considering Gronkowski was targeted 17 times.

What's next: It doesn't get easier for the Jets, who hit the road to face the Cincinnati Bengals (5-2).

Rapid Reaction: New England Patriots

October, 20, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rapid reaction from the New England Patriots' 30-27 overtime loss to the New York Jets:

What it means: The Patriots had their streak of 12 straight victories over AFC East opponents snapped. They had control of the game early, but the Jets’ defense took control of the game in the third quarter. The Patriots had been in a favorable spot with a 21-10 halftime lead when quarterback Tom Brady had an interception returned for a touchdown by Jets safety Antonio Allen. The complexion of the game changed at that point, but the Patriots recovered in the fourth quarter in the critical situations to force overtime. But the Jets ultimately outlasted them to drop the Patriots to 5-2.

Critical penalty on Jones: Rookie defensive tackle Chris Jones was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Jets’ 56-yard field goal attempt in overtime as he was rushing up the middle. The kick was no good, but the penalty gave the Jets new life and they ultimately won it. This will be a big storyline after the game, and we would expect further explanation from referee Jerome Boger in a pool report.

Gronkowski snap tracker: Tight end Rob Gronkowski made his 2013 debut and was charted on the field for 51 of 79 snaps (including penalties). He was a difference-maker in his return, drawing a big holding penalty in the second quarter, although he couldn’t hang on to what would have been a tough one-handed catch on the Patriots' game-tying drive. Brady also forced the issue to him at times.

Stock Watch: Brady -- down. One week after he drove the Patriots down the field in dramatic fashion, Brady turned in an uneven performance. While protection breakdowns didn’t help the cause (credit also the Jets’ defense), his interception returned for a touchdown early in the third quarter was uncharacteristic.

Ups and downs for depleted defense: The short-handed Patriots defense struggled for long stretches as the Jets owned third down, but when a stop was needed late in the fourth quarter, the unit delivered with big pass breakups by cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safety Steve Gregory. Rookie cornerback Logan Ryan had a pick-six in the first quarter. So it was a day of ups and downs for the unit. Overall, it was more the offense that hurt the Patriots.

Key stat: The Patriots offense was 1-for-12 on third down.

Injuries of note: There were no major injuries for the Patriots.

What’s next: The Patriots return home to entertain the Dolphins next Sunday in a second straight AFC East clash. The Patriots are 2-1 in AFC East play, with wins over the Bills and the Jets and today’s loss to the Jets.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

October, 20, 2013

MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 23-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills:

What it means: The Dolphins suffer an inexcusable home loss to the Bills and fall to 3-3 on the season. Miami had two weeks to get healthy and prepare for a Buffalo team down to its third quarterback (Thad Lewis). The Dolphins were sloppy in the first half and fell behind 17-7. Miami made a run in the second half, but with all the inconsistency, poor play calling and sloppiness, the Dolphins couldn’t get out of their own way. Ryan Tannehill fumbled late in the fourth quarter after getting sacked by Mario Williams. That led to a game-winning, 31-yard field goal by former Dolphin and current Bills kicker Dan Carpenter, which added to the insult. After a 3-0 start, Miami is in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

Stock watch: The stock is up for Miami's offensive line, which has been by far the most-maligned group of the season. The offensive line didn’t allow a sack in the first three quarters and provided bigger lanes in the running game. As far as a stock that's down, right tackle Tyson Clabo was the only offensive lineman who struggled. He allowed two sacks to Williams in the fourth quarter that changed the complexion of the game. I also wasn’t impressed with the play calling by offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, especially in the first half. The Dolphins had two weeks to scout and prepare for the Bills’ defense, which isn’t very good. Yet some of the play calling was questionable and didn’t allow the offensive players to get in rhythm.

Double trouble: It has been a quiet season for Miami tailbacks Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. But they had perhaps their best performance thus far. Miller and Thomas combined for 103 yards on 21 carries. Miller had the best carry of the day, for 30 yards in the first half. After spending much of the season running sideline to sideline with poor results, the Dolphins went for a more forward, plowing style of running game -- and it worked.

What’s next: The road only gets tougher for Miami. The Dolphins will travel to face the New England Patriots in another AFC East matchup. And Miami will have a short turnaround after facing the Patriots, facing the Cincinnati Bengals four days later.

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

October, 20, 2013
MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 23-21 win over the Miami Dolphins:

What it means: On a day when Thad Lewis and the Bills' offense struggled to consistently move the ball, the Bills' defense came up with big plays. Undrafted rookie Nickell Robey returned a first-quarter interception for a touchdown, while Mario Williams strip-sacked Ryan Tannehill in the fourth quarter to set up the Bills' go-ahead score. After losing a 14-0 lead and trailing in the fourth quarter, the Bills come away with their first division win and first road victory of the season.

Carpenter gets revenge: Kicker Dan Carpenter was released by the Dolphins in August after five seasons with the team, but he kicked the go-ahead field goal Sunday against his former team. Carpenter, who was booed by the Sun Life Stadium crowd, hit a 31-yarder to put the Bills up 23-21 with 33 seconds left. Carpenter has made his last 15 field goals, the fourth-longest streak in Bills history.

Jackson toughs it out: With C.J. Spiller already hobbled, the Bills got a big scare in the first quarter when Fred Jackson's leg bent awkwardly as the veteran was hit running out of bounds. The cart came out for Jackson, but it was waved off as he rose to his feet and eventually returned to the game, running for a 3-yard touchdown. Jackson finished with 36 yards on 11 carries, while Spiller gained 11 yards on six carries. Both are playing through injuries.

Stock watch: Bills' pass rush (first three quarters). The Bills, who entered the game with the NFL's fourth-most sacks, failed to register a sack until the fourth quarter. Part of it may have been a more running-based game plan for a Miami offensive line that has struggled to keep Tannehill upright this season; the Dolphins had allowed the second-most sacks of any NFL team before Sunday. But for a Mike Pettine-coached defense that thrives on generating pressure, the Bills failed to do that in this game until late, getting it cranking just in time to pull out the win.

What's next: The Bills improve to 3-4 but remain in fourth place in the AFC East. Their slate doesn't get any easier as they'll travel to face the New Orleans Saints next weekend. They'll need to play better in the Superdome than they did in Miami.



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