Around the AFC East: Week 10 Review
By Scout.com Staff
The Bills weren't planning on returning to second-year quarterback J.P. Losman as their starter this soon. But the timing may be just right.
After veteran Kelly Holcomb suffered a concussion in the second quarter against Kansas City on Sunday, Losman came off the bench to throw two long touchdown passes to Lee Evans, and Buffalo's defense did the rest in a 14-3 victory at windy Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Coach Mike Mularkey would not name his starter for this week's tough game at San Diego (5-4), but Holcomb's health coupled with Losman's impressive performance are likely to swing the decision in Losman's favor.
Holcomb, who was slammed hard to the turf by Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen, was being observed overnight.
Losman, if he hasn't already done enough to win the starting job back, has certainly gave the coaching staff a lot to think about.
In nine series, he was 9 of 16 for 137 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, one sack and a sparkling 124.2 passer rating. He made good decisions and bought time with his legs, something that appeals once more to the offense with the line adjusting to new right tackle Jason Peters, who has taken over for Mike Williams.
Losman started Buffalo's first four games but was benched in favor of Holcomb after the Bills fell to 1-3. In those games, Losman completed just 47.9 percent of his throws and was sacked 10 times. But his accuracy was not a problem against the Chiefs as he placed perfect passes of 33 and 29 yards into the hands of Evans in the end zone.
"There has been a difference in him in practice, and it showed up today at an opportune time," Mularkey said. "He has progressed. That's hard to see when he's not on the field, but he has taken some steps without taking snaps."
While he wasn't happy about sitting out four games and watching Holcomb go 2-2, Losman said it was good for him to refocus and reflect on what he was doing wrong. Being handed Drew Bledsoe's old starting job without a competition made him too comfortable, he said.
"It was thinking about the last four weeks and how tough it was on me," Losman said. "I was just trying to do anything I could to get back in there. All that anger that built up. ... I used that as my focus, that was my key. I'm not going to lose that from here on out."
What about starting at San Diego?
"It's a coaches decision," he said. "I'd love to be the guy."
J.P. Losman replaced an injured Kelly Holcomb and threw two touchdown passes to Lee Evans, sparking the Bills (4-5) to a 14-3 win over the visiting Chiefs (5-4). The win made the Bills 11-6 after bye weeks.
In the second quarter, Losman drove the Bills 66 yards in seven plays to a touchdown, hitting Evans on a deep flag route for the score, covering 33 yards. Evans outjumped Eric Warfield, who had good coverage.
In the third quarter, an interception and 18-yard return by Rashad Baker brought the ball to the Kansas City 27-yard line. On third-and-12, Losman hooked up with Evans, who made a perfect over-the-head catch against Warfield for the touchdown.
Buffalo's defense did the rest. Although the Bills allowed 132 yards rushing to Larry Johnson, he had just 32 yards on 11 carries after halftime. The Bills came up with four takeaways and sacked the Chiefs' Trent Green six times and intercepted him three times. He had thrown just three interceptions all year and had gone 145 attempts without a pick.
--QB Kelly Holcomb suffered a concussion when slammed to the turf in the second quarter against Kansas City. He did not return. His status for Sunday's game at San Diego won't be known until midweek. Holcomb was 4 of 6 for 25 yards and a sack when he left the game.
--QB J.P. Losman, who lost his starting job to Kelly Holcomb four games ago, replaced an injured Holcomb against the Chiefs and threw two touchdown passes to lead the team to a 14-3 victory. Losman was 9 of 16 for 137 yards and a 124.2 rating. In his four starts, his rating was 55.9.
--RB Willis McGahee was bottled up by Kansas City's No. 8 run defense, gaining 66 yards on 20 carries and not catching a pass. He had 12 carries for 40 yards in the second half and fumbled once after injuring his hand.
--WR Lee Evans, who led NFL rookies with nine touchdown catches a year ago, had just one scoring catch on the year before Sunday. But against the Chiefs, he made two nice plays in the end zone to catch TDs of 33 and 29 yards.
--DE Aaron Schobel had two of Buffalo's six sacks against Kansas City, giving him a team-high seven for the year. Schobel took advantage of young tackle Jordan Black, who was overpowered by several moves.
--FS Troy Vincent suffered a shoulder injury against Kansas City. His status will be updated by midweek.
--DT Sam Adams did not dress for the Chiefs game. He developed fluid on his knee late in the week. The Bills allowed 150 yards rushing on 32 carries without him to anchor the middle of their defense.
--OL Mike Williams, the NFL's fourth overall pick in 2002 who has struggled at right tackle, made his debut at left guard for the Bills against the Chiefs on Sunday but lasted just four series. He was beaten on several stunts, one helping lead to a sack and concussion suffered by QB Kelly Holcomb. Williams was replaced by Bennie Anderson, who had started the first eight games.
Dolphins wide receiver Chris Chambers has to hope his first NFL game in his hometown of Cleveland goes more smoothly than his last outing.
Chambers caught six passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns in last Sunday's 23-16 loss to New England, but the performance will be remembered more for the reception he didn't make. Chambers failed to salvage a fourth-down Gus Frerotte pass in the end zone with 36 seconds remaining, allowing the Patriots (5-4) to clinch the victory and assume sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
Frerotte's throw was slightly low, as he was facing pressure from a Patriots blitz. Chambers, though, believes he should have made a sliding catch after breaking away from the coverage of Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel.
"I had my fingertips on it and couldn't get it to my body," Chambers said. "It was real tough. I think I could have gotten it if I could have gotten my head around quicker."
Chambers dropped three other Frerotte passes, which is another chapter in what has become a disappointing season. During the preseason, Frerotte favorably compared Chambers to wide receiver Randy Moss, whom the quarterback had played with in Minnesota the previous two seasons. But after nine games, Chambers remains on pace to finish without 1,000 receiving yards for the fifth consecutive year.
"I thought we did a good job and played well, but we left a lot of plays on the field," Chambers said after his team's fifth loss in its past six games. "I myself was a little bit inconsistent. Some of the balls that were low, I should have come up with. That would have helped us."
The Dolphins' woes in the secondary continued in a 23-16 loss to New England. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady picked apart the Dolphins for 275 yards in a 21-of-36 outing with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Patriots tight end Ben Watson, who started in place of the injured Daniel Graham, caught two second-half touchdowns, and New England wide receiver Tim Dwight beat nickel cornerback Reggie Howard on a 59-yard reception. Patriots receiver Deion Branch had five catches for 82 yards, and Andre' Davis drew a 49-yard pass interference penalty on Miami rookie cornerback Travis Daniels to help set up a third-quarter Adam Vinatieri field goal.
"We just can't get over the hump," said Dolphins middle linebacker Zach Thomas, who finished with a team-high 12 tackles. "We just have to make the big play. The whole game, there were a lot of plays that got us beat."
--WR Marty Booker posted his second 100-yard receiving performance of the season in Sunday's 23-16 loss to New England. Booker had five catches for 102 yards.
--SLB Junior Seau played in his 229th career game Sunday, which moves him past Kevin Greene into sole possession of third place among NFL linebackers for most games played. Seau finished with just one tackle, as the Dolphins played primarily in a nickel defense against New England.
--CB Reggie Howard regained his spot as Miami's nickel cornerback against New England. Kiwaukee Thomas had played nickel cornerback the past two games.
--TE Alex Holmes saw his first NFL action as a blocking tight end against the Patriots. A college free agent from Southern California, Holmes was promoted from the developmental squad to the 53-man roster eight days earlier.
--S Yeremiah Bell had the first interception of his three-year NFL career against New England, snaring a Tom Brady pass intended for TE Ben Watson in the fourth quarter. Bell finished with two tackles while seeing extensive playing time in Miami's dime defense.
Even Herm Edwards couldn't find anything to be positive about this time.
The Jets' 30-3 loss to Carolina dropped them to 2-7. To put that in its proper perspective, they hadn't started a season that badly since they went 1-8 in 1996 and 2-7 in 1995 under Rich Kotite. The schedule remains unforgiving, as the Jets must visit AFC West-leading Denver (7-2).
Edwards, who has done his best to maintain his characteristic upbeat attitude in the face of the Jets' injury-ravaged season, raised his voice during his postgame news conference after a relatively innocuous question about quarterback Brooks Bollinger's four interceptions.
"They are playing as hard as they can play," Edwards said. "If you have a problem with that, then that's too bad because they are playing as hard as they can play. That's all I can ask them to do."
Well, he also has implored the Jets to play mistake-free football, because that's the only way this depleted team can even have a chance to compete at this point. The Jets, using a fairly conservative game plan, trailed only 7-3 when Curtis Martin's first lost fumble in over two years set up a Carolina field goal near the end of the first half.
That was nothing compared to how the game unraveled in the second half, as Bollinger threw four picks in a span of six attempts and rookie Justin Miller fumbled when he was hit on a kickoff return. Those giveaways turned a close game into a Carolina rout. With New England's victory over Miami, the Jets (2-7) are three games behind the AFC-East leading Patriots with seven games to go, and they realize a once-promising season is over, pretty much before it ever got started.
Still, they promise to keep playing hard.
"You can't allow the circumstances to dictate the way you do your job," Martin said.
"We've still got seven games to go," defensive end John Abraham said when asked what was the gist of Edwards' postgame speech to the players. "We can't forfeit the rest of the season."
That, however, would probably be easier than enduring what has become a depressing march to the end of the season.
In the first 92 pass attempts of his NFL career, Brooks Bollinger didn't throw an interception. He then threw four in a span of six attempts.
The Jets (2-7) actually played Carolina (7-2) fairly even from a statistical perspective. Carolina had only a 220-214 advantage in total offense, and both teams had 15 first downs.
The difference was in the turnover column. Carolina committed two, while the Jets had six. Five of those came on successive possessions in a nightmarish second half.
Bollinger's first pick prevented the Jets from tying the score at 10, as he underthrew Laveranues Coles in the end zone. Coles had cornerback Ken Lucas beaten, but he was able to recover and pick off the errant pass.
On the Jets' next possession, Bollinger was intercepted again by Lucas, leading to Stephen Davis' 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down and a 17-3 Panthers' lead. Rookie Justin Miller fumbled the ensuing kickoff when he was drilled by Ricky Manning, leading to another John Kasay field goal. Then Bollinger was picked off again, this time when his pass bounced off the hands of Justin McCareins and into the arms of Chris Gamble, who also had recovered Miller's fumble. That set up Kasay's third field goal, a 28-yarder.
--QB Brooks Bollinger went 11-for-21 for 98 yards with four interceptions and no touchdowns against the Panthers. Consider that in a relief role against San Diego the previous week, he had 11 completions, 106 yards passing and two touchdowns in less than two full quarters. Bollinger hadn't thrown a pick in the first 92 pass attempts of his NFL career before his second-half meltdown Sunday. Coach Herm Edwards declined to say whether Bollinger would start against Denver next week.
--RB Curtis Martin had 75 yards on 19 carries, but he lost a second-quarter fumble that led to a Carolina field goal. Martin hadn't lost a fumble since Nov. 2, 2003, against the Giants, and had gone 32 consecutive regular-season games and two playoff games without losing one.
--WR Laveranues Coles had a team-high three receptions for 30 yards against Carolina.
--WR Justin McCareins had two receptions for 21 yards against Carolina, but his seventh drop this season was converted into an interception by Chris Gamble.
--TE Doug Jolley had two receptions for 25 yards against Carolina, his best game since a three-catch effort against Tampa Bay on Oct. 9.
--RT Jason Fabini, who already had been playing on a balky left knee for much of the season, suffered a torn left pectoral muscle in the first quarter against Carolina and was lost for the season. He will become the 10th Jet placed on injured reserve this year.
--RB Cedric Houston, a rookie, saw the most extensive action of his career with 53 yards on 10 carries against Carolina, mostly in garbage time.
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