AFC East: rapid reaction 15
|AP Photo/George Nikitin|
|Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel was exceptional in a 49-26 win over the Raiders less than a week after his father passed away.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Cassel had four touchdown passes by the opening drive of the second half. He finished with 218 yards on 18 completions to help the Patriots remain tied with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins atop the AFC East.
All three teams won Sunday and are 9-5 with two games left.
With the Patriots' postseason hopes on the line, many were concerned if Cassel could cope. The alternative would've been to insert rookie Kevin O'Connell. But Cassel insisted on playing, a decision that inspired his teammates.
Five years ago this month and on the same field, Brett Favre threw four first-half touchdown passes to beat the Raiders the day after his dad died.
Cassel's father, Greg, was found dead early Tuesday morning in his Southern California home. Cassel left the team Wednesday but returned to practice Thursday at San Jose State, where the team worked out in between games against the Seattle Seahawks and Raiders.
Randy Moss, playing in Oakland for the first time since he was traded from there, caught five of Cassel's passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets are in trouble. Or are they?
The Bills were protecting a three-point lead with about two minutes to play, but J.P. Losman was sacked and fumbled. Jets defensive lineman Shaun Ellis picked it up and scored a touchdown to help the Jets remain tied for first place in the AFC East.
The Jets were desperate for a victory after dropping two in a row against opponents they were favored against. Maybe beating the Bills will inject some confidence, but how they escaped must be disconcerting to their fans.
That the Jets needed such a miraculous defensive play should be disturbing because the Bills went into the game having scored zero touchdowns on their past 22 possessions.
But the Jets always seemed to come up with the big play. With the Bills about to take a 17-14 lead into halftime, Leon Washington ripped off a 47-yard touchdown run to put the Bills back in their place.
Even funnier sounding: Miami remains in control of the AFC East with two games to play.
The Dolphins went into Sunday in a three-way tie for first place with the New York Jets and New England Patriots. The Jets barely defeated the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots have a 4:05 p.m. kickoff against the Oakland Raiders.
In what's shaping up as a season-finale showdown for the division title, the Dolphins will visit the Jets on Dec. 28.
The 49ers went into Dolphin Stadium having won two straight games -- both against AFC East teams -- in which they surrendered just 17 combined points.
Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington was 12 of 19 for 156 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He connected on his first six attempts to break Dan Marino's 16-year-old club record for consecutive completions with 17.
The Dolphins committed zero turnovers to break the 14-game NFL record for fewest giveaways with 10.