Week 2 Recap: Around the AFC East

A look around the AFC East, what happened, what to expect and more. The Buffalo Bills may have QB issues. The Miami Dolphins retunrned to their ordinary play. The New York Jets won, but is Pennington back in form or was it something else? These answers and more in Around the AFC East.

PHOTO: New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington is sacked by Miami Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau in the first quarter of the Jets 17-7 victory over the Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2005, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Week 2 Recap: Around the AFC East
By Scout.com Staff

Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

BUFFALO BILLS

Has the door been cracked for a quarterback controversy in Buffalo?

J.P. Losman, the team's first-year starter, was benched for a series midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday's 19-3 loss at Tampa Bay for veteran Kelly Holcomb, and Losman was none too happy about it.

"I'm upset," Losman said. "I don't want to see another QB in there. The job is mine. It's not to be shared. But it's a team game and Coach (Mike) Mularkey knows what's best for the team and me. Maybe it would give us a spark."

That's exactly how Mularkey explained the move, which came during a game in which his team was thoroughly outplayed on both sides of the line of scrimmage to fall to 1-1.

The Bills were outgained 318 yards to 147, including 191-47 on the ground. The Buccaneers (2-0) had 18 first downs, 11 rushing, to Buffalo's total of eight and held the ball for 38:50.

"I wanted to see if we could get a spark. We were stagnant all day," Mularkey said. "I was just trying to get something going before it was too late."

Holcomb had a quick three-and-out performance, going 2-for-3 passing. One pass to tight end Mark Campbell was for no gain and another to Willis McGahee lost a yard.

The former Cleveland Brown, who signed a rich free agent contract to back up Losman, has a good track record of coming off the bench. The fact Mularkey called his number already does prove the coaching staff won't just leave Losman in a game to take his lumps if it feels there's still a chance to win. Buffalo, 9-7 a year ago, has designs on a serious playoff run and doesn't want to squander the year just on developing a young quarterback at all cost.

Losman came back into the game and played the final Buffalo series, directing the team's longest drive of the day, 12 plays, which ended with an incomplete pass to Eric Moulds on fourth down at the Tampa Bay 9-yard line with 40 seconds to play.

"They just maybe wanted to get a spark there," Holcomb said. "Their defense definitely played well and at the end there, we were able to get J.P. back in the game for some more work. That's a good defense. We all knew it coming in here. They won a Super Bowl just a few years ago."

REPLAY

In a game where field position was everything for two struggling offenses early, Tampa Bay got a break when a Josh Bidwell punt was downed on the fly by Juran Bolden at the Bills' 1-yard line. That led to a safety by linebacker Shelton Quarles who chased J.P. Losman out of the back of the end zone on a third-down pass play, and the Buccaneers went on to a hard-earned 19-3 victory in 91-degree heat.

After going up 2-0, the Buccaneers drove 67 yards in 11 plays to Mike Alstott's 1-yard TD plunge on its next possession, then added a 3-yard score by rookie Carnell Williams and a 40-yard field goal by Matt Bryant on two of its first three possessions in the second half to put the game away.

The Bills were in no position to rally as Tampa Bay, which churned out 191 yards rushing on 40 carries controlled the ball for 38:50. Losman was 5-of-18 passing for 39 yards before padding his stats in garbage time. Willis McGahee was held to 34 yards on 13 carries.

The Bills defense, which had five sacks and five turnovers against Houston in its opener, had one sack and no takeaways as Buffalo's four-game winning streak on the road from a year ago was ended.

NOTES

--LB London Fletcher suffered a strained right hamstring late in the second quarter against Tampa Bay and did not return. The coaching staff called the injury a "tweak," and Fletcher was held out to be on the safe side for a long season ahead. He is expected to suit up Sunday at home against Atlanta.

--RT Mike Williams suffered an undisclosed left ankle injury early in the third quarter of Sunday's loss at Tampa Bay and did not return. He was able to put weight on the ankle and hobbled off the field. He'll be re-evaluated on Monday.

--RB Willis McGahee gained just 34 yards on 13 carries and caught one pass for minus-1 yard in Sunday's loss at Tampa Bay. McGahee, a patient runner whose strength is picking his hole as it develops, did a lot of stutter-stepping at the line against the Bucs' fired-up defense and was eventually replaced by Shaud Williams late in the game.

--WR Josh Reed was the Bills' leading receiver with six catches for 71 yards against Tampa Bay. He was expected to have a big game as Tampa Bay's corners, Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber, shut down Eric Moulds and Lee Evans, holding them to three catches for 20 yards.

--KR/CB Terrence McGee got loose for a 43-yard kickoff return against Tampa Bay, setting up a field goal before halftime. McGee, a Pro Bowl pick a year ago, finished with three returns for 105 yards (35.0 average). He also tied for the team high with 10 tackles.

--PK Rian Lindell, who went 5-for-5 in the season opener against Houston, converted his only field goal against Tampa Bay from 40 yards.


MIAMI DOLPHINS

The Dolphins will be hard-pressed to win Sunday's game against visiting Carolina if penalties aren't corrected and the running game doesn't get on track.

A 17-7 loss to the New York Jets were marked by both of those problems. The Dolphins were penalized 88 yards on 10 infractions, which actually was one fewer than the 11 committed the previous week in a 34-10 victory over Denver.

"We have to be more consistent in the way we perform," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. "We talk about playing hard and competing, but playing smart is something we need to do a better job of. When it comes to the penalties and the discipline-type things we do that put us behind the eight ball, those are some of the things that are disappointing.

"I thought we did a lot of good things, but a lot of them were negated by some of our own errors in terms of what we do. Ten penalties is far too many to have, especially when probably five or six of those were discipline-type penalties."

The running game wasn't much better, as the Dolphins gained 66 yards on 18 carries. Rookie tailback Ronnie Brown's 12-carry, 35-yard performance is further proof that he will need time adjusting to the NFL after being the second overall pick in last April's draft.

"I think he's improving and he's going to get better and better," Saban said. "I think he's got to learn how to play within himself all the time and gain confidence in exactly what is expected of him on certain plays so that he can do it naturally.

"We're not disappointed at all with where he is. We would like to get him a little more production, but I'm not sure that's all up to him. We've got to continue to block better, and everybody has to do a little better job of giving us the opportunity to run effectively."

REPLAY

A Dolphins pass defense that flourished against the Broncos didn't fare nearly as well in a 17-7 loss to the Jets. New York quarterback Chad Pennington completed 19 of 30 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

Cornerback Travis Daniels was beaten on a 7-yard scoring throw to Laveranues Coles, while Pennington executed a beautiful rollout to fool Miami's defense on a 1-yard toss to fullback Jerald Sowell.

Cornerbacks Sam Madison and Reggie Howard struggled to contain Coles (five catches for 68 yards) and fellow wideout Justin McCareins (5-87), while free safety Lance Schulters committed a critical pass-interference penalty that kept alive a New York scoring drive.

"The Jets have two good receivers," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. "We obviously need to figure out how to do a better job on those two guys, especially on a couple of the big plays they made early in the game."

NOTES

--LS John Denney, a rookie who bested veteran Ed Perry for Miami's long-snapping duties during the preseason, botched a snap against the Jets that resulted in a missed 21-yard field goal by Olindo Mare.

--DT Tim McGill, who was claimed off waivers from the Jets during the preseason, was declared inactive for Sunday's game. McGill is considered a project player because he played very little college football, instead cutting his teeth in the Arena League and NFL Europe.

--RT Vernon Carey was shifted to left tackle in place of Damion McIntosh, who was benched in the third quarter against the Jets.

--RT Stockar McDougle was promoted to the starting lineup in the third quarter against the Jets in place of Vernon Carey, who was benched before shifting to left tackle to replace the struggling Damion McIntosh.

--P Donnie Jones had a standout second game for the Dolphins, posting a 38.9-yard net average while placing three of seven punts inside the Jets 20-yard line.

--TE Lorenzo Diamond had three catches for 14 yards while seeing extensive playing time against the Jets in Miami's frequent use of two tight-end sets.


NEW YORK JETS

The Jets aren't where they want to be just yet, and they still consider themselves a work in progress, especially on offense.

Quarterback Chad Pennington convinced a number of doubters with his performance against the Dolphins last week, but with just 24 points scored in two games, there's a lot more to be done.

"We're still going through a learning process," said Pennington, who was 19-of-30 for 190 yards and a pair of touchdowns after failing to lead the Jets to any points against the Chiefs the week before. "This offense brings about some new challenges for us, and it's not going to happen overnight. But as long as we can manufacture wins and find ways to win, it'll be all good."

At the request of Pennington, new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger will be coaching on the sidelines rather than in the coaches box upstairs. Heimerdinger prefers to get a bird's eye view of the action, especially the running game, so he can make adjustments more easily.

Heimerdinger, however, can more easily detect if players are panicking when the offense isn't working if he stays downstairs. He'll also be able to better communicate what he wants to Pennington, who only started working with the new playbook at the start of training camp in late July. Pennington was held out of all offseason workouts because of shoulder surgery.

The Jets have talked often about scoring at least 24 points a game, but they could be a few more weeks away from consistently producing that. While Pennington has an excellent rapport with receiver Laveranues Coles and an improving one with Justin McCareins, he still needs to build chemistry with Wayne Chrebet, who was barely used the last few seasons.

Pennington also has to improve on his footwork, a key component in Heimerdinger's offense.

REPLAY

Putting up touchdowns early and late while playing strong defense in between, the Jets came away with a 17-7 win over Miami on Sunday at the Meadowlands.

Quarterback Chad Pennington was 7-for-7 for 74 yards on late fourth-quarter scoring drive that helped seal the win, with four of the passes going for 12 yards or more. He hit fullback Jerald Sowell for a 1-yard touchdown with 8:24 remaining.

After committing three turnovers the previous week against the Chiefs and nearly making many more, the Jets didn't turn the ball over once against the Dolphins.

NOTES

--DE John Abraham started for the first time this season and played the entire game against Miami, getting consistent pressure on the quarterback and getting his second sack. What was more surprising was how well Abraham played against the run, which has always been a weaknesses.

--CB David Barrett responded well against Miami after getting burned several times the week before, getting two pass defenses and also making the game-sealing interception in the final minutes.

--QB Chad Pennington moved into fifth place on the Jets' all-time passing list with 190 yards against the Dolphins.

--FS Erik Coleman wasn't listed as injured after the Miami game, but he was wearing a cast around his wrist and the bottom portion of his right hand.

--CB Ty Law has been a great addition to the Jets. Solidifying the left corner spot, Law hasn't been burned for a big play in two games.


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