Games in the NFL are won and lost by fine margins. That bell definitely rang true for the Dolphins over the weekend. Miami endured a tough first quarter, going 14-0 down. Ryan Tannehill had two interceptions and the Bills were made to look like a Super Bowl calibre team. Then the second quarter began, and the Dolphins recovered, trailing the Bills by 17-14 at halftime after touchdowns by Charles Clay and Brandon Gibson, who made an impressive leap into the end zone just before half time. But make no mistake, the first half was dismal at best. The offense's failure to convert any of their seven third down chances did not make for great viewing.
If the first half was dismal, the second half didn't get much better. This was brought to a climax late in the fourth quarter by the play-calling of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman when the Dolphins were leading by 21-20. Sherman instructed the team to pass, pass and pass. Surely the team would want to run the football with just over two minutes on the clock? In the end, Ryan Tannehill got hit and fumbled the football, setting up the Bills for the game-winning field goal to make it 23-21 in favour of Buffalo. To make matters worse, that game-winning field goal was made by an ex-Dolphin, Dan Carpenter. I hate to place blame on any individual, but Mike Sherman's play calling was questionable at best. In the end it left the Dolphins with a 3-3 record after losing three consecutive games. But worse of all, Miami lost to a team playing their third-string quarterback. Time for a reality check for the coaches, players and fans. This losing streak needs to end, and fast.
The other game in the AFC East saw the New England Patriots pitted up against the New York Jets. Going into the game, the Jets had not beaten the Patriots in five consecutive games. That losing streak came to an end in unusual fashion. Nick Folk kicked, and missed, a 56-yard field goal - the first miss of his season - before defensive tackle Chris Jones was held up for pushing one of his own teammates into a New York Jet along the line, and being penalized for 15 yards. Foles did not make the same mistake twice, and slotted a 42-yard field goal right between the posts in overtime with 5:07 remaining on the clock as the Jets claimed a 30-27 victory over their rivals.
This was an impressive win for the Jets, who trailed the Patriots 21-10 at halftime after starting the first half fast and ending slow. On the opening drive of the game, they drove the football 80 yards in 12 plays to go 7-0 up before the Patriots countered with an 80-yard touchdown drive of their own. However Geno Smith then threw an interception on New England's own 20-yard line, which cornerback Logan Ryan returned for 79 yards. But the Jets kept the Patriots in check with a field goal in the second quarter, before the Patriots set up their third touchdown of the game with a nice 17-yard run by Stevan Ridley, leading 21-10 at halftime.
In the third quarter, New York again surged forward as safety Antonio Allen intercepted Tom Brady's intended pass for tight end Rob Gronkowski and returned it for a touchdown. Allen's interception paved the way for the Jets to steam-roll ahead of the Patriots, putting up 17 points in the third quarter to lead by 27-21. However, the Patriots weren't content with just rolling over, and kicked two field goals to send the game into overtime. Unfortunately it wasn't all good for the Patriots as they head into Week 8 facing an intriguing matchup against our very own Miami Dolphins.
What did you think about the games in the AFC East this past weekend? Can you take any positives from the games? We'd love to hear your thoughts.