AFC East: rapid reaction 16

Rapid Reaction: Bills 30, Broncos 23

December, 21, 2008
12/21/08
8:42
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

What a fine job the Buffalo Bills have done infuriating their supporters, but on Sunday they provided a lot of hope for some fan bases that normally wouldn't care one bit about them.

The Bills hung on to defeat the Denver Broncos, 30-23, at Invesco Field at Mile High, a thrilling finish for San Diego Chargers fans and an encouraging result for those who root for the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens.

Now San Diego can get into the playoffs by beating Denver in the regular-season finale.

But in the AFC East, the fact the Bills are showing signs of life could indicate a competitive game Sunday against the New England Patriots in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

If the Bills can manage to knock off the Patriots, the Jets can win the division by surviving against the Dolphins.

Somehow, the Bills won despite being out-gained 532-275. They fell behind 13-0 and then scored on each of their next four possessions to win for only their second time in their past nine games.

Buffalo quarterback Trent Edwards returned to the field after missing two games with a groin injury and completed 17 of 25 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.

Edwards, who was spectacular in the fourth quarter early in the year but then fell apart, guided the Bills on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.

The victory also means Buffalo still can finish .500 and avoid a fourth straight losing season. But if they fall to the Patriots on Sunday, then the Bills will be 7-9 for a third consecutive year.

Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 13, Jets 3

December, 21, 2008
12/21/08
6:53
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The New York Jets are hurting. In a critical game, they lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 13-3 at Qwest Field.

The pressure couldn't be greater for next week's season finale against the Miami Dolphins at the Meadowlands. The playoffs will be on the line. Jobs will be on the line in the front office, on the sideline and on the roster. Brett Favre could be playing his last game.

The Jets have dropped three of their past four games, and the only game they won they should have lost. Thanks to a questionable coaching decision and a J.P. Losman fumble that was returned for a touchdown, the Jets managed to beat the Buffalo Bills.

After ripping off five straight victories and winning seven out of eight, including back-to-back road wins over the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans, the Jets are behind the Patriots and Dolphins in the AFC East race.

To reach the playoffs the Jets need to beat the Dolphins (possible) and hope the Patriots lose at Buffalo (unlikely) to win the division. They have been eliminated from the wild-card race because the Baltimore Ravens have the tiebreaker.

In the snow, where Favre won so many games as a member of the Green Bay Packers, he completed 18 of 31 passes for 187 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Thomas Jones ran 17 times for 67 yards and failed to score a touchdown for the first time in nine games.

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 38, Chiefs 31

December, 21, 2008
12/21/08
4:22
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The Miami Dolphins did their part Sunday to maintain drama in the AFC East with a late touchdown drive to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 38-31 in Arrowhead Stadium.

One year removed from a one-victory campaign, the Dolphins are 10-5, same as the New England Patriots. The New York Jets must beat the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field to keep pace.

But even if the Jets lose in Seattle, next Sunday's showdown between the Dolphins and Jets at the Meadowlands could be for the division title.

Chad Pennington made sure the Dolphins' storybook season continued by orchestrating a 13-play, 85-yard drive that consumed 8:33 off the clock and ended with a 14-yard catch and rumble by tight end Anthony Fasano for the winning touchdown.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 47, Cardinals 7

December, 21, 2008
12/21/08
4:09
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots aren't going away.

In fact, they're looming more than they have all season.

The Patriots went into Sunday the only team among the AFC East-leading threesome not in control of their own destiny, but they remain very much a factor after walloping the Arizona Cardinals 47-7 in the snow globe that was Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots are 10-5 and play the Buffalo Bills in next week's season finale. While the Patriots could win 11 games and not make the playoffs, the Cardinals are 8-7 and have ensured their spot by clinching the harmless NFC West.

The Patriots could become the first 11-win club to miss the postseason since the NFL adopted its current format in 1990 if the Baltimore Ravens beat the Jacksonville Jaguars as expected next week to finish 11-5 and both the Jets and Dolphins win today.

The Ravens hold the tiebreaker and would take the second wild-card berth. The Indianapolis Colts earned the first wild-card entry.

LaMont Jordan scored touchdowns on New England's first two series, and Matt Cassel outplayed the MVP candidate and the Heisman-winning glamour boy he used to back up at Southern California.

Cassel's phenomenal season continued. He completed 20 of 36 passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

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