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Sunday, September 7, 2008
Breakdown: AFC East


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Patriots 17, Chiefs 10: All those negative feelings Patriot Nation suppressed about their team's 0-4 preseason and what life might be like without Tom Brady should be gurgling to the surface now.

The AFC East is up for grabs.

Reports claim Brady's knee injury is season-ending. That could be cataclysmic for the Patriots, who are depth-deprived at quarterback. They needed to hang on in the final minute to defeat the lowly Chiefs.

Old friend Damon Huard -- the Chiefs' backup quarterback, no less -- drove 73 yards to give them a first-and-goal opportunity from the Patriots' 5-yard line. The Chiefs failed to punch it in, but that shouldn't be an occasion for gloating too much in Foxborough.

Brady's injury is cause for serious alarm, not only because the job would go to Matt Cassel (if he starts next week against the Jets in the Meadowlands it will be his first start since high school), but also because an extended rehab would be a discouraging blow to the locker room.

Cassel has done little to engender confidence. He failed to lead the Patriots to a scoring drive in the preseason. He came off the bench Sunday to complete 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. That was something to build on, but he did it against the Chiefs, whom the Dolphins dominated and shut out in the third preseason game -- the one that's supposed to be most reflective of the real thing.

Don't be surprised if the Patriots start calling around for help. Joey Harrington, Chris Simms and Daunte Culpepper are available.

That should make Patriots fans feel better.


Bills 34, Seahawks 10: It can be argued nobody had a better weekend than the Bills.

Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters ended his 43-day holdout by reporting to the team on Saturday. Brady's injury creates hope the AFC East title might actually be attainable. Then they put a thumping on the Seahawks, who were short-handed from injuries and suspensions yet still are considered one the NFC's better clubs.

The Bills rolled with a balanced offensive attack, a defense that recorded five sacks and forced a pair of turnovers and touchdowns from their special teams on a Roscoe Parrish punt return and a fake field goal.

That was the sort of statement game the Bills' needed.

Second-year QB Trent Edwards overcame his limited preseason action (four series over two exhibition games) and completed 19 of 30 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. RB Marshawn Lynch ran for 76 yards and a score. WR Lee Evans had 102 yards. TE Robert Royal had a team-high six catches and a TD.

What else could they have done besides post a shutout?

In a division in which the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 constricted appreciably, the Bills showed today they could be the new AFC East team to beat.