Around the AFC East

With the Dolphins off on Tuesday, we take a quick look at what's going on around the AFC East.

BUFFALO BILLS

In their previous two trips to New England, the Bills had lost to Tom Brady and Co., by a combined score of 60-6.

The Bills did a lot better Sunday night, but still came away on the wrong end of a 21-16 score.

The loss dropped Buffalo to 3-5 heading into their bye, including an 0-4 mark on the road.

"There are no moral victories in this league," wide receiver Eric Moulds said. "That's a helluva of a team over there. They've won three world titles. It's good to say we hung with them, but we need wins. They know how to finish games and keep their poise. A couple of times we felt they were out of the game, but those guys kept on fighting. Brady was poised, their defense, even though we moved the ball up and down the field on them, it made plays. That's what you do when you're world champions."

The Bills dominated the game statistically, rolling up 394 yards to New England's 273. They outrushed the Patriots 147-93, something that never occurred in their four previous losses since 2001. Running back Willis McGahee gained 136 yards on 31 carries, and Buffalo led in time of possession 39:20 to 20:40.

Buffalo was 0 for 3 in the red zone, and it came back to haunt them.

"We need to score touchdowns," coach Mike Mularkey said. "We had a chance early on in the game that would've been a big momentum builder for our team. We've got to make some plays down there and get points when we get that opportunity."

THIS AND THAT

-- WR Roscoe Parrish, the Bills' top pick out of the University of Miami who missed 10 weeks with a broken wrist suffered in training camp, was used as a runner, receiver and punt return specialist against the Patriots. Parrish had six touches for 48 yards, catching his first NFL pass, good for 17 yards to convert a third down. He also returned three punts for a 11.0 average, a better mark than Nate Clements (7.3) and Jonathan Smith (6.8) have averaged this year. That showing is likely to earn him the job full time for the rest of the year.

-- FS Troy Vincent, the former Dolphins first-round pick, injured his left shoulder late in the game and came out for a series. He was able to return briefly. Vincent did not think his shoulder was dislocated, but added "I took a pretty good shot on it." For him, the team's bye week comes at a good time.

-- DT Sam Adams played sparingly in the second half as the coaching staff chose to play younger backups Justin Bannan and Lavale Sape in the three-time Pro Bowler's place. Bannan did a nice job pressuring QB Tom Brady and Sape had a fumble recovery. It's believed the decision to sit Adams was made by line coach Tim Krumrie, who may have been upset by Adams' penchant for not playing the scheme that's called.

-- Second-year OT Jason Peters, a converted tight end, earned his first start at right tackle for an injured Mike Williams (ankle) and earned some high grades. Williams dressed, but saw action only on special teams.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

The best part of the final step in linebacker Tedy Bruschi's comeback was the final score.

Bruschi, playing for the first time since suffering an offseason stroke, said he had to approach Sunday night's home game "like a Super Bowl" in terms of containing his emotions all day. The stakes weren't quite that high for the Patriots, but a loss to the Buffalo Bills would have given them their first losing streak since the 2002 season.

"This was a very big game for me to go out and not just show that I could play, but help this team win," Bruschi said. "I think I helped us win."

With Bruschi sidelined, the Patriots had been unable to generate any momentum, alternating wins and losses through the first six games. Plugging Bruschi and Mike Vrabel, normally an outside linebacker, into the inside of the Patriots' 3-4 alignment didn't solve all of their defensive shortcomings. But the Patriots (4-3) made enough key plays to edge the Bills and grab solid hold of first place in the AFC East ahead of the Dolphins (3-4) and Buffalo (3-5).

THIS AND THAT

-- Coach Bill Belichick and holder Josh Miller both accepted blame for not calling the Patriots' final timeout before Adam Vinatieri's 39-yard field goal was erased by a delay-of-game penalty in the closing seconds of the first half. Backed up 5 yards, Vinatieri hooked his second attempt wide, leaving the Patriots trailing 3-0 at halftime. The Patriots had been trying to leave as little time on the clock as possible for Buffalo, but they cut it too close.

--RB Corey Dillon might not have seen much action had FB Patrick Pass, who started at running back, not gone out with a leg injury early in the second quarter. Dillon, who has been nursing a sore ankle that kept him out of the Patriots' last game before the bye week, stepped in and rushed for 72 yards on 18 carries. He scored on a pair of 1-yard runs. "Corey really hasn't practiced hardly at all in the last three weeks," Belichick said. "And he was pretty much a game-time decision (Sunday night). But he felt good. We started Patrick and I thought Patrick ran well. Then he went out and Corey really stepped in there and played a lot more plays than I expected him to tonight. I don't think he expected to play way near as much as he did. He played hard, ran well."

NEW YORK JETS

Coach Herman Edwards was mad Monday. But he wasn't in fire and brimstone mode, trying instead to keep things positive in a season that's about a loss or two from being over.

While he wasn't planning any lineup changes against the Chargers, he wouldn't rule out using new personnel once the game starts.

"It could take place," Edwards said. "If the performances of players are not up to the standard that we think is acceptable, then there will be some changes."

Edwards went on to say the changes could be anywhere, and while he didn't give the players an edict regarding job security, they understood the stakes.

"I think the players know how I feel. They know how I feel about being 2-5," Edwards said. "They understand where I'm coming from. Trust me, they know."

How much weight the threat carries is unknown. While he did bench Vinny Testaverde for Chad Pennington just four games into the 2002 season, it must be noted that Edwards has very rarely made changes even at the most dire of times.

Edwards might consider bringing in Brooks Bollinger should Testaverde continue to struggle. Other than that, the Jets don't have enough depth to make any serious changes in their rotations.

THIS AND THAT

-- DE John Abraham hasn't had a sack in four games, but he's not about to break down over it. He's angry at the situation facing himself and the 2-5 Jets, but figures getting angry isn't going to do much. "Everybody's mad right now, but I'm not going to come in here and throw a chair around every damn day until we get it right, that's not going to help anybody," Abraham said  "I could come in here mad as hell and cussing everybody out, but it ain't going to do nothing."

-- The Jets finally increased their roster by placing QB Chad Pennington (rotator cuff), C Kevin Mawae (torn triceps) and LB Eric Barton (torn biceps) on injured reserve. The Jets signed LB T.J. Hollowell off the Giants' practice squad and OG Doug Nienhuis. "Obviously the guy that would help right away is (Hollowell) for us special teams-wise," Edwards said. "He can do that. He can be a pretty good special teams guy."

-- QB Jay Fiedler threw for the first time in about six weeks Monday but didn't show much. In fact, it was just a light toss and the Jets still feel Fiedler is a long way from serious throwing.


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