Patriots rebound, rest of AFC East falters

Glad to see the back of the replacement referees, Bill Belichick and the New England patriots set about rebounding from two straight losses with a trip to Buffalo. Meanwhile, the Jets welcomed another team looking to rebound in the San Francisco 49ers, while Miami headed to Arizona in search of a win.

New England Patriots 52, Buffalo Bills 28

Tom Brady and Danny Woodhead helped New England to a big win over Buffalo.

After two consecutive losses, for New England (2-2) Sunday was about calming the storm. The Patriots did exactly that, and in doing so they unleashed a tempest on Buffalo (2-2).

Trailing 14-7 at halftime and conceding a quick touchdown as the third quarter opened, New England looked as though it might be in for a repeat of last year’s visit to Orchard Park, when the Bills upset the New England side for the first time in 18 attempts.

Brady and Bellichick had other ideas though. New England proceeded to score a touchdown on six consecutive second half drives, including a 12:41 stint that saw 35 unanswered points on the board.

The Patriots would finish the game with 580 total yards. Brady tallied 340 yards on 22-36 passing, including three touchdown strikes (to Gronkowski, Woodhead and Lloyd) as well as rushing one in himself. Brandon Bolden ran for 137 yards and one score while Stephen Ridley earned 106 yards on the ground including two touchdowns.

For the Bills there was little to get excited about. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s four touchdowns and four interceptions were a replica of Brady’s numbers in this fixture last year. On the ground, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller – both returning from injury – tallied just 62 points between them. A total of six give-aways broke ultimate broke the back, whilst the defense looked particularly suspect.

In terms of the bigger picture, it’s disaster averted as New England looks to be back on track. Bettors thinking big over the weekend will have been happy with the Patriots having beaten the spread (-4½) and smashed the over/under (51 points) by themselves.

Having seen their Super Bowl odds lengthen over the past two weeks, the Patriots can expect these to shorten this week, ahead of a matchup with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

The Bills meanwhile continue to look weak against division opposition. Sunday’s loss was the 22nd in the last 26 games within the AFC East. It’s not going to get any easier either. The Bills, a team that has been horrible on the road, plays four of the next five away from Ralph Wilson Stadium. A win in Cleveland isn’t enough to prove the team is over its away-day blues, and with trips to San Francisco (3-1), Arizona (4-0), Houston (4-0) and New England over that five game span, things could get a lot worse very quickly.

Up Next: (NE) Vs. Denver Broncos (2-2); (BUF) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1)

San Francisco 49ers 34, New York Jets 0

Santonio Holmes was injured during the course of San Francisco's drubbing of the New York Jets, a fact that could prove vital as we move further along the season.

The anemic preseason offense of the New York Jets (2-2) made an unwelcome return to MetLife Stadium on Sunday as the visiting San Francisco 49ers (3-1) blanked the green side of New York.

The Niners took the 4½ pointspread and ran with it, literally. As a team San Francisco amassed 245 rushing yards, with Frank Gore (62), Kendall Hunter (58) and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick (50) all besting 50 yards. Kaepernick even ran in for a touchdown from the wildcat formation, something Jets fans expected of, and are yet to see from, Tim Tebow.

Speaking of Tebow, the backup completed his first pass of the season in the second quarter. If you’re one for omens, tight end Derrick Epps caught the nine-yarder only to fumble it away. Make of that what you will.

The Jets struggled all game to keep a hold of the ball. Three fumbles were lost and Mark Sanchez –on a dire 13-29 passing for 103 yards ­– threw an interception. One of those fumbles came from Santonio Holmes, who caught a short pass only for his leg to give way. Carted off the field, Holmes looks to suffer a serious foot injury and is expected to miss time. After losing Darrelle Revis for what is sure to be the entire season last week, this was exactly what the Jets didn’t need.

The performance as a whole was succinctly, but accurately, described by head coach Rex Ryan’s comment: “We had our asses kicked.”

The 34-0 final score marked the Jets’ worst shutout loss since a 37-0 loss to Buffalo on the last day of the 1989 season.

Week 1’s big offensive output against the Bills is now long forgotten, and the Jets can expect to see their Super Bowl stock take another tumble this week.

Things go from bad to worse next week as Houston (4-0) makes the trip to New Jersey for Monday Night Football. Despite being at home, you can expect the Jets to be heavy underdogs in that game.

Up Next: Vs. Houston Texans (4-0) (Monday Night Football)

Miami Dolphins 21, Arizona Cardinals 24 (OT)

Ryan Tannehill set a new Dolphins rookie passing record but Miami ultimately came up short in Arizona.

Following last week’s overtime loss to the Jets, Miami (1-3) found itself on the wrong end of an extra frame score again this week as Arizona (4-0) edged the Fins in the desert.

At 1-3, the Dolphins look a lot worse than they’ve played. Barring Week 1’s loss to Houston, Miami has been in every game until the bitter end, and beyond.

The Dolphins took a 13-0 lead into halftime before Arizona – certainly one of this season’s surprise teams – crept back into the game. In the end, it took two huge defensive plays for the Cards to take the game.

Trailing by a touchdown with less than three minutes on the clock, Arizona linebacker Daryl Washington sacked Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill who subsequently fumbled the football. The ball was recovered by Vonnie Holliday, which led to Kevin Kolb leading the Cardinals to a touchdown in the dying seconds of the game.

Then, in overtime, another Cardinal linebacker, Paris Lenon, hit Tannehill as he was throwing. The wayward ball ended up in the hands of safety Kerry Rhodes. The ensuing possession was capped off with a 46-yard Jay Feely field goal to win the game.

It was another heartbreaker for the Dolphins who started the season as underdogs in the AFC East but have arguably outplayed at least some of their division counterparts.

Eight sacks on the day – including 4½ from Cameron Wake – suggests the Miami defense has potential, while wide receiver Brian Hartline set a franchise record with 253 yards receiving.

Tannehill continued to move along the learning curve, completing 26 of 41 passes for 431 yards – breaking Dan Marino’s franchise record for yards in a game thrown by a rookie – and a touchdown. Two interceptions, and the loss in general, marred the rookie’s day.

The Dolphins now head to Cincinnati (3-1) for what will almost certainly be a tough outing. The Bengals open as four-point favorites.

Up Next: at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)

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