NFL Nation: Chiefs-Jets

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

MIAMI -- Reporters lowered their microphones, and the TV cameras went dark as the crowd dispersed from Langston Walker's locker.

But I wanted to ask the Buffalo Bills right tackle one more question about the tightening divisional race.

All of the AFC East teams played at 1 p.m. Sunday. The first-place Bills were the only ones to lose, beaten by the Miami Dolphins, no less, 25-16.

 
  Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
  Joey Porter's Dolphins may be in last place in the AFC East, but they are far from out of the race after beating the Bills, 25-16, Sunday.

"We're still in first place, aren't we?" Walker said as he extended the handle on his rolling suitcase and headed for the door. "End of story."

If only it were that simple.

This thing's just getting started.

The New England Patriots fended off the St. Louis Rams and are now tied with the Bills at 5-2. The New York Jets came back to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the final minute to pull within a game of the division leaders.

The Dolphins are 3-4, but have a lot more going for them than most last-place clubs. They're merely two games out of first place. They own the AFC East's best intra-divisional record at 2-1. They were one play away from beating the Jets and the Houston Texans.

"We can be right there, man," said Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter, who registered two sacks (one which led to a safety), forced a fumble and recovered another. "We can't lose the games we're supposed to win. The games we're supposed to win? This is the first close game that we pulled out.

"We could easily be sitting in a different situation. But it is what it is, and we're 3-4. We could easily be a [5-2] team. We're not supposed to be where we're at at 3-4. But we can't cry over that."

Plenty of time remains. Nine games per team, no less. The Bills, in fact, still have five divisional games left.

Here is a team-by-team look at what's to come:

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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

New York Jets fans might want to buy their antacids in bulk. They won't go to waste.

Their team tried to give away Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but avoided losing consecutive games to NFL doormats with a late touchdown for a 28-24 victory at the Meadowlands.

Brett Favre was the main source of indigestion. He threw three interceptions. One went for a 91-yard touchdown to give the Chiefs a 24-21 lead with 9:39 to play. But Favre managed to pull it out, hitting Laveranues Coles, who made a scintillating grab in the end zone from 15 yards away.

The Jets ran the ball well. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington combined for 121 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets rolled up 420 total yards, giving them back-to-back games with at least 400 yards for the first time in a decade.

New York's defense also had its moments, holding the Chiefs to 80 yards rushing and sacking quarterback Tyler Thigpen four times.

The Jets desperately needed the win to maintain a semblance of credibility and stay in the AFC East race. They are 4-3, one game behind the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.

 
  Al Bello/Getty Images
  Tyler Thigpen's Chiefs may have lost to the Jets Sunday, but the quarterback showed impressive poise in his second start for Kansas City this season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brett Favre's latest magic show was already complete. Yet another chapter in Favre's storied comeback had already been published.

It was in the books. Favre doesn't play well -- until he has to. Then, his team wins the game. Done deal.

But Tyler Thigpen kept coming. The Kansas City Chiefs' No. 4 was pressing the universe's No. 4. Scrambling. Command of the offense. Laser throws. Last-minute poise. Yes, Thigpen looked familiar out there.

On a day Favre had his most exciting win for the Jets, it was Thigpen who kept coming off his stool and trying to make Favre work harder. In the end, the Chiefs' and Thigpen's counters weren't enough. Thigpen's dreams expired at the Jets' 31-yard line with 21 seconds to go.

Officially, it was Favre's day as the Jets beat the Chiefs 28-24. Favre made up for three grotesque interceptions by hitting Laveranues Coles for a 15-yard touchdown with exactly a minute to go in the game. That's how the football world will remember this one.

But in Kansas City, it could have a greater significance. It could be remembered as the day Thigpen showed he does have what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. It could be remembered as the day the Chiefs stood up and fought, and showed the league they won't take this youth movement lightly, even if they did fall to 1-6.

In spite of the heartbreak, Sunday's game was a lot more tolerable for the Chiefs than their past two games, in which they were beaten by a total of 68-10.

And Thigpen was a big reason why things evened out a bit this week.

"Tyler played outstanding," Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "He played a lot better than I thought he was going to play. I know he surprised everybody. I don't care what anybody said, if they thought he was going to go out there and play the way he did then they're lying."

Thigpen was good for four quarters in his second NFL start. He completed 25 of 36 passes for 280 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and he wasn't intercepted. Favre completed 28 of 40 passes for 290 yards. He threw two touchdown passes but he was intercepted three times.

Thigpen set the tone by completing his first 10 passes. The Chiefs set the tone for Thigpen by operating out of the no-huddle offense, which he ran in college at Coastal Carolina, for much of the game. Thigpen, a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings last year, was much better than in his previous start when he threw three interceptions.

Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said he thought Thigpen would play better because he displayed excellent confidence this week in practice. Thigpen became the starter this week after season-ending injuries to quarterbacks Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard. Thigpen said knowing the job is his led to his comfort level.

"The job has been handed to me to go and play football," Thigpen said. "I'm going to take advantage of it."

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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the end, it was another Brett Favre comeback.

But in Kansas City, this gut-wrenching loss will be remembered for more than another Favre magic trick. Yes, the Chiefs lost because of a Favre touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles from 15 yards out with a minute remaining in the game.

But in Kansas City, this game will be remembered as the day the Chiefs stood up and fought.

They fell to 1-6 amid adversity, but the Chiefs nearly won. They probably should have won.

This is a team that was beaten by a combined 68-10 in the past two games. This is a team down to their third quarterback, Tyler Thigpen. And you know what? Thigpen was very good. Maybe Thigpen could be the answer. Maybe there is some hope in Kansas City.

Yes, Brett Favre got them like he's gotten so many teams before. But Sunday, the Chiefs were a competitive NFL team. They couldn't say that in the past month.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Another Sunday, another milestone for Tony Gonzalez.

The Chiefs' superstar tight end caught his 850th career reception today against the Jets. He is now 12th on the all-time NFL receiving list, surpassing former Denver Bronco Rod Smith.

Gonzalez became the NFL's all-time yardage leader for tight ends earlier this season. He is also the NFL's all-time leader in receptions and touchdowns for tight ends.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Pregame buzz:

  • Jets receiver Laveranues Coles (hamstring, concussion) will start against visiting Kansas City.
  • Jets tight end Bubba Franks is inactive because of a groin injury.
  • Chiefs' running back Larry Johnson is inactive today against the Jets. It's the second straight game he has been deactivated. Chiefs coach Herman Edwards is punishing him for off-field issues.
  • After heavy rains Saturday, it is clear skies in the East Rutherford area and weather should not be an issue for the Jets-Chiefs game.
  • The Chiefs' plane was delayed a couple of hours Saturday flying into the New Jersey area because of inclement weather.
  • Several members of the Jets' Super Bowl III team, including quarterback Joe Namath, were in the press box prior to the game.
  • Former Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer is here. His son Brian is an assistant for the Jets.
  • Interesting development in Baltimore where Oakland running back Darren McFadden has been deactivated because of turf toe. He has been dealing with the injury since Week 2 at Kansas City. Coincidentally, that was his best game. Turf toe can bother a player for an entire season and perhaps this is going to be the case for the No. 4 overall pick of the 2008 draft.
  • Receiver Chad Jackson is still on target to sign with Denver tonight. He has a flight scheduled to land in Denver on Sunday evening.

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