Around the AFC East: Week 14 Fallout

The New York Jets pulled out of their plummet to the bottom of the league by surprising the Oakland Raiders who have started their own fall. The Buffalo Bills continue to struggle with their latest collapse, while the New England Patriots set a record or two against them. The Miami Dolphins are putting up a real fight to stay alive and with their win may get a chance to pull closer to New England for the division this Sunday. Get inside for more fallout from week 14.

Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

BUFFALO BILLS

Quarterback J.P. Losman, who was roughed up in Sunday's 35-7 loss to the New England Patriots, suffered a previously undisclosed right throwing shoulder injury in the first quarter and underwent an MRI on Tuesday.

Coach Mike Mularkey described the MRI as precautionary but said that if the injury keeps Losman out of practice Wednesday and possibly Thursday, it's likely Losman won't start Saturday's home game against Denver.

Veteran Kelly Holcomb, 3-2 as Buffalo's starter, would get the nod.

Losman sat out practice Tuesday. He also has a sore left leg and was limping noticeably.

"J.P., especially with his experience, every rep is a critical rep to him, as practices are," Mularkey said. "So a lot of it will be based on how he feels, what the MRI says. We don't seem to think it's going to be anything real bad. But we're going to see how he feels tomorrow and make a decision."

Losman completed just 10 of 27 passes for 181 yards and a season-high three interceptions against the Patriots. He was sacked twice and hit hard numerous other times. His record fell to 1-7 as a starter, though he did come off the bench to rally Buffalo to a win against Kansas City.

Losman's shoulder is sore and the shortened work week could prevent him from making his ninth start.

"It's bothering him," Mularkey said. "That's why we wanted to give him the time off with everything, not just throwing. He's banged up elsewhere, too. Normal bumps and bruises, but with a quarterback it's magnified."

--The Buffalo Bills felt they had turned a corner two years ago when they opened the 2003 season with a 31-0 victory over New England. They rode an emotional high into that contest after picking up strong safety Lawyer Milloy, who was cut just days earlier by the Patriots.

But since that game, the Bills are 0-5 against the Patriots and have been outscored 147-46, including Sunday's 35-7 debacle that dropped the Bills to 4-9 and officially eliminated them from the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.

Overall under general manager Tom Donahoe, who took charge in 2001, Buffalo is 1-9 against the team it needs to catch and pass if it has any hope of making the playoffs again.

The Bills looked to have closed the gap on the Patriots with a 21-16 loss back on Oct. 30 in Foxborough, Mass., a game Buffalo led 16-7 with 10 minutes to play. But the gap has never looked wider than it does now, even with New England a modest 8-5 after dealing with an injury wave.

How far away are the Bills from contending with the Patriots?

"If we play like that, we're a long ways away," coach Mike Mularkey said. "If we hadn't had the chance to play them earlier in the year, I'd question ourselves, but we are better than that. We've played better than that, I should say, and we've responded better than that after tough losses. When we played them the last time, we were coming off a bad road loss (38-17 at Oakland) and we came back and played better in their place, but we didn't respond (this time)."

The Bills were coming off a heart-breaking 24-23 loss at Miami where they blew a 21-point lead, then endured a week of controversy that involved Donahoe calling an antagonistic fan a "jerk" on a radio show, followed by Mularkey's one-game suspension of popular wide receiver Eric Moulds for arguing with an assistant coach.

"It was a tough week, but you always have distractions," wide receiver Lee Evans said. "It really didn't play a huge role in this game. Obviously, missing Eric on the field, that speaks for itself. But distraction-wise, no. We just didn't play very well."

The Bills were woeful on both sides of the ball as the Patriots tallied numerous season statistical highs and some team records.

Buffalo, outgained 494 to 183 in total yards, had eight first downs to New England's 32. The Bills' total was the fourth-fewest in franchise history, and the Patriots' total was a New England record.

Buffalo rushed just 14 times for 12 yards, its fourth-fewest rushing attempts in a game and third-fewest yards. It was the second fewest rushing yards allowed in a game in New England history.

Mostly, the Bills were never in the game, falling behind 14-0 at halftime and 35-0 late in the fourth quarter. If not for two Tom Brady interceptions, it may have been 49-0.

"It's an embarrassment to everybody associated with the Buffalo Bills, to come out at our home stadium and perform the way we performed," linebacker London Fletcher said. "Collectively, they just kicked our rear ends."

The Bills have little time to feel sorry for themselves.

They host Denver (10-3) on Saturday night, wrapping up the home portion of their schedule.


MIAMI DOLPHINS

Dolphins players were critical of what they perceived as a lack of respect from San Diego players during last Sunday's 23-21 upset of the Chargers.

"We know they didn't respect us," Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael said. "They were looking forward to their game next week in (Indianapolis). Now, they're going to Indy with a sour taste in their mouth. ... In warm-ups, they were talking trash when they were coming out of the tunnel. Just stuff like that. That's all right because we believe in ourselves."

The Chargers entered with five consecutive victories, and they have a game looming Sunday at Indianapolis (13-0), which has raised speculation that San Diego players were overlooking the Dolphins (5-7).

"Just from the game, it seemed like they were taking us lightly," Dolphins free safety Yeremiah Bell said. "We took offense to that."

Dolphins free safety Lance Schulters said he was insulted when San Diego eschewed long field goals in favor of trying to gain first downs on fourth-and-8 and fourth-and-6 in the first half. The Chargers converted on their first attempt en route to a touchdown and failed on the other.

"No respect," Schulters said. "I've never been in a game ... It wasn't like fourth-and-short. That's what we were saying on the field."

Reaction from San Diego players was mixed.

"In the first half, we were kind of going through the motions like we weren't playing a good team, like we had won two Super Bowls." Chargers tailback LaDainian Tomlinson said.

Said Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer: "I don't think you have to make accusations about people talking trash. It's football. People are going to talk trash. Don't take it to heart. Y'all won. Go about your business and win your next three, and we'll go about our business and try to win our next three."


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

--With rookie LT Nick Kaczur inactive with a shoulder injury, veteran Tom Ashworth returned to the lineup in Kaczur's spot. Ashworth started the first eight games of the season at right tackle until a knee injury sidelined him. Brandon Gorin has started the last five games at right tackle. Ashworth allowed a sack to Buffalo's Aaron Schobel on the game's second play from scrimmage, but quarterback Tom Brady blamed himself for that one, saying he hung onto the ball too long.

"Tom adjusts on the fly," Brady said of Ashworth, "He stepped up to the challenge and I thought he really did some great things."

--In a 21-16 home win over the Bills six weeks ago, the Patriots struggled badly on third down on both sides of the ball. They converted only one of seven chances on offense while Buffalo was 7-of-14. This time the roles reversed. The Bills were 2-of-10, and the Patriots were 11-of-16. That dominance allowed the Patriots to post season highs in time of possession (41:59) and offensive plays (82 -- double Buffalo's total).

The Patriots cashed in on 10 straight third downs after missing on three of their first four.

"I think it was one of the big keys to the game," coach Bill Belichick said. "I mean, there were a lot of things that were important, but that was a big one. Offensively, we converted them. Defensively, we were able to get off (the field) and make those short drives and get the ball back to our offense ... The better you can play on third down, the easier it makes it on everyone."

--Rookie CB Ellis Hobbs recorded his team-leading third interception and his second in two games.

--Rookie reserve S James Sanders scored his first touchdown, catching a batted pass out of the air and returning the interception (also his first) 39 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.

--LB Rosevelt Colvin has a sack in three straight games, giving him a team-high 5.5 for the season.

--SS Michael Stone returned to the starting lineup after being displaced by Artrell Hawkins in the previous two games. Hawkins, who was on the injury report (shoulder), was inactive.

--K Adam Vinatieri did not attempt a field goal for only the second time this season. He also didn't try a kick in a 40-21 loss to Indianapolis in Week 9.


NEW YORK JETS

With Curtis Martin scheduled to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday, the Jets will get a chance over the last three games to see what the future at running back might look like.

Rookie Cedric Houston, a sixth-round draft pick from Tennessee, showed some flashes Sunday, especially with his ability to break tackles. But he still averaged only 2.6 yards per carry. The Jets, however, feel he has plenty of potential. Houston slipped in the draft because of a thyroid condition that has since been corrected with medication.

"He's probably our most improved player since training camp," coach Herm Edwards said, "because (during) the offseason he really didn't get to work out a lot in the OTAs (organized team activity practices) because of his condition. He got in shape, changed his body around some and all of the sudden, he just kept improving. He's done it as a runner, he's done it as a blocker, and we felt good if he had to go in the game and start. ... He did a good job."

B.J. Askew, a tailback at Michigan who has been a backup fullback and a special-teamer in his three years as a pro, had 54 yards on nine carries late in the game, spelling Houston.

"He wants to play tailback, I know that," Edwards said. "We drafted him as a fullback, and he wants to play tailback. I believe he has the ability to run some. I don't think he's a natural tailback. (But) I think he can do some things at tailback. He's a gifted athlete. He just has to be more available for us. He hasn't been available a whole lot this year."

Edwards was referring to the fact that Askew has been inactive for five games this season because of ankle and hamstring injuries. With that in mind, Edwards indicated that he was quite blunt with Askew about his status on the team before the Oakland game.

Edwards said, "I told him, 'You need to figure out if you're going to be in the league or you're not going to be in the league because you've got too much talent to be a guy just kind of sitting on the fence.' I said, 'Now you're going to get an opportunity to play, and you've got to play good. You need to start playing good and figure out if you want to play in this league or not.'"


More Buffalo Bills articles: http://bills.scout.com
More New York Jets articles: http://jets.scout.com
More Miami Dolphins articles: http://dolphins.scout.com

 

 


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