AFC East: Week 5 Review

So much for looking more competitive. The Bills were anything but on Sunday after getting blown out by Chicago. The Dolphins played New England tough until they turned the ball over. The Patriots are dealing with injuries, but have finally seen the fruits of their defense, and the Jets somehow looked as bad as Buffalo on Sunday.

Division Report 10/092/06

Bills :: Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

    BUFFALO BILLS     Bills :: Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

Looking Back At Week Five

A short memory span is often a good quality for an NFL player to have after suffering a blowout loss.

The Buffalo Bills, however, don't want to forget how poorly they played in a 40-7 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday. They want this one to hurt awhile if they're going to learn and get better.

Buffalo (2-3) has a good opportunity to rebound at winless Detroit (0-5) before coming home for a rematch with New England (4-1) before their bye.

"Obviously we have a very bad taste in our mouth. It's not the outcome we wanted or felt it would be, but it's one thing to say it and another to do it," defensive end Chris Kelsay said. "We have to go back to the drawing board, fix our mistakes, and learn from this game because sometimes games like this can be a positive in the long run, but right now, it's awfully hard to cope with."

"Personally, I want to use this as a motivator so it never happens again," said cornerback Terrence McGee, who was beaten on several big pass plays, then fumbled a kickoff that led to Chicago's last touchdown.

The Bills (2-3), who start third-year pro J.P. Losman at quarterback and play five rookies on defense, wanted to prove they could compete -- even upset -- the heavily favored Bears (5-0), who are conjuring comparisons to the franchise's 1985 Super Bowl champs.

Instead, Buffalo wound up proving Chicago may just be the best team in the NFL.

They didn't help themselves by committing a sea of mistakes.

Chicago turned five Bills turnovers, three off interceptions by Losman, into 20 points and dominated all three phases of play.

The turning point came on the very first series when Buffalo was faced with a fourth-and-one situation at the Chicago 42-yard line. A false start penalty on fullback Daimon Shelton moved the ball back five yards.

But instead of taking the safe punt, coach Dick Jauron called for a fake with punter Brian Moorman running to his right. But Moorman fumbled a low snap from Mike Schneck, and the Bears took over the Buffalo 40-yard line.

Six plays later, Chicago led 3-0 on a 42-yard Robbie Gould field goal.

That trickle soon became a flood as the Bears scored on their first five possessions to take a 27-0 halftime lead.

While Buffalo's offense was self-destructing with sacks, penalties, dropped passes and turnovers -- all courtesy of an intimidating Bears' defense -- Chicago's offense hummed along behind two Rex Grossman touchdown passes, the running of Thomas Jones (109 yards) and Cedric Benson (two touchdowns), and the play of wide receiver Bernard Berrian (four catches, 97 yards), who had McGee's number all day. A 62-yard Grossman to Berrian pass play set up Chicago's third TD.

The Bears out-gained Buffalo 351-145.

Losman struggled all day with his decision-making and wound up 14 of 27 for 115 years and a season-low 35.8 rating. He had a 90.6 rating entering the game.

What's it say that Buffalo could not measure up to the Bears, who have won nine in a row at home by an average of more than 18 points per game?

"It says that on this day we fell way short of our goals but we all know it's a long season," said Jauron, the ex-Bears boss whose first return to the Windy City as a head coach was highly forgettable. "This is one game. We're 2-3. We get past it, make our corrections, and attack the next one. We have to learn from it, grow, and move on."

Notes:

--QB J.P. Losman, one of just five NFL quarterbacks to register a rating of 80 or better through four games, was no match for Chicago's top-rated defense. He went 14 of 27 for 115 yards with one TD and three interceptions for a season-low mark of 35.8.

--RB Willis McGahee gained 50 yards on a season-low 14 carries in Sunday's loss to the Bears. The Bills abandoned the run after falling behind 27-0 at half. McGahee was more involved in the passing game with four catches for 15 yards.

--WR Lee Evans caught nine passes for 94 yards and a five-yard TD, breaking Chicago's shutout bid with 1:06 to play.

--CB/PK Terrence McGee had a season-high seven kick returns but averaged just 22.7 yards and lost a fumble that led to a Bears score.

--OG Chris Villarrial sat out the game as expected with a tendon injury in his right ankle. Duke Preston started in his place.

--LB Takeo Spikes sat out his fourth consecutive game with a right hamstring pull. Rookie Keith Ellison started again in his place.

--SS Matt Bowen missed his eighth consecutive game going back to preseason with a broken bone in his lower right leg.

 


    MIAMI DOLPHINS     Bills :: Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

Looking Back At Week Five

Unless Daunte Culpepper is an amazingly quick healer, expect Dolphins quarterback Joey Harrington to continue in the starting role after Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

Dolphins coach Nick Saban pulled the trigger on benching the struggling Culpepper for last Sunday's 20-10 loss at New England. Saban said the reasoning stemmed from Culpepper's physical condition after suffering 21 sacks in the first four games while continuing his recovery from last October's major knee injury.

Saban said he made the decision to sit Culpepper after watching him struggle in last Wednesday's practice. Saban said Culpepper suffered a shoulder injury September 17 against Buffalo but that the choice was "not about just that.

"This guy was a tremendous, elusive guy," said Saban, referring to the scrambling ability that helped Culpepper reach three Pro Bowls during seven seasons in Minnesota. "Right now, I think anybody could make the determination that he's not as elusive as he once was. We'd like to get him closer to that so that he can play the way he's capable of playing with that style. That's more the issue."

Harrington has better mobility and was surprisingly effective against New England, especially considering he hadn't played since the preseason. Harrington completed 26 of 41 passes for 232 yards while only getting sacked once.

Harrington, though, hurt the Dolphins with interceptions that led to both of New England's touchdowns.

"When you play a good team like New England, you can't make mistakes because they're not going to," said Harrington, who was acquired by the Dolphins in an offseason trade with Detroit. "We had three turnovers that went straight to their points. We had penalties (a season-high 10) and more of the same stuff that has gotten to us all year ... We had plenty of chances, but we shot ourselves in the foot."

Culpepper declined comment after the game and refused to address his health status last Friday after his shoulder injury became public knowledge. Asked Culpepper's reaction when told of the switch to Harrington, Saban said, "He did what a team guy would do. He wanted to be the emergency quarterback and if we got in the situation where he could help us win if somebody gets hurt.

"I know how much the guy wants to play, how hard he's worked and how difficult some of the things that have happened to him in these first three or four games have been for him physically. He's a warrior, man. He never says a word ... The guy will put his career on the line for this team. You have to admire that.

"Somebody's got to decide whether it's the right thing for him to do or not. I made that decision and I don't know if it was the right thing or not, but it's the decision we had to make."

Regardless of who is under center, the Dolphins can't afford another lackluster road performance against the Jets like in last year's 17-7 loss. Without a victory to end a three-game road stretch, Miami's already remote chances of reaching the playoffs will probably suffer a fatal blow.

"There's still a long season and a lot of things can happen," Dolphins defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday said. "We can go on a run. We've done it before. It's going to really depend on how we bounce back from this. Are we going to take the positives from this game and run with it or hang our heads and consider this a lost cause?"

Notes:

--QB Daunte Culpepper was designated Miami's third-string quarterback for Sunday's game against New England. Culpepper may remain in that role indefinitely because of Dolphins coach Nick Saban's concerns about his physical condition after suffering 21 sacks in the first four games.

--WR Marty Booker suffered a pectoral/shoulder injury in the first quarter of Sunday's 20-10 loss to New England and couldn't continue. Booker, who is expected to undergo an MRI exam on Monday to determine the extent of the injury, was replaced in the base offense by Wes Welker.

--CB Travis Daniels was forced to leave Sunday's 20-10 loss to New England in the third quarter after suffering a knee injury. Daniels said he didn't believe the injury was serious and expects to play in this Sunday's road game against the New York Jets.

--TE Justin Peelle suffered a knee injury during Sunday's 20-10 loss to New England. A backup who plays frequently in two-tight end sets, Peelle is expected to undergo an MRI exam Monday to determine the extent of the injury, coach Nick Saban said.

--LB Derrick Pope missed his third consecutive game Sunday against New England because of a hamstring injury that he aggravated during last Thursday's practice. The Dolphins had hoped Pope was ready to return in a special teams role against the Patriots.

--DT Jeff Zgonina was inactive for Sunday's game against New England for only the second time in the past 78 games. Zgonina had appeared as a reserve the past three games after not dressing for the season-opening loss to Pittsburgh.


 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS     Bills :: Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

Looking Back At Week Five

Notes:

--CB Asante Samuel recorded his first two interceptions of the season. His first came in the second quarter, giving New England a short field and setting up a Tom Brady to Troy Brown 10-yard touchdown. His second pick came in the fourth quarter, again giving the Patriots offense a short field and setting up a Brady to Heath Evans 1-yard score.

--S Rodney Harrison forced a first quarter Ronnie Brown fumble (recovered by Tedy Bruschi) against Miami, setting up New England's first point points on a 35-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal.

--RB Heath Evans scored his first career touchdown against the Dolphins, a 1-yard reception in the fourth quarter to extend New England's lead. Evans finished with two catches for 11 yards and the one score.

--WR Troy Brown had a resurgent day on offense against Miami just a week removed from playing a significant role in the New England secondary. Brown led New England with five receptions for 58 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown.

--TE David Thomas got his second career start, filling in for an inactive Daniel Graham (ankle). The rookie also registered his second catch of the season, finishing with one reception for 11 yards.

--RT Ryan O'Callaghan returned to his starting spot on the New England offensive line after missing two weeks with a head injury.

--TE Daniel Graham missed his first game of the season with an ankle injury suffered early in the previous week's win over the Bengals.

--CB Ellis Hobbs played nickel back for New England just 11 days removed from Sept. 27 surgery to repair a broken bone in his left wrist. Hobbs struggled at times in coverage but finished with six tackles

--S Eugene Wilson missed his second-straight game with a hamstring injury.


 NEW YORK JETS     Bills :: Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

Looking Back At Week Five

Remember all the doom and gloom that the media and many of the Jets' fans were predicting during August? Sunday finally provided a real glimpse of what they were all talking about.

The Jets (2-3) were dominated in all phases of the game in a 41-0 loss at Jacksonville (3-2) and now are facing the first crisis of first-year coach Eric Mangini's regime as they prepare to host another reeling AFC East team, Miami (1-4).

New York could right itself quickly as its next three opponents, Miami, Detroit and Cleveland, are a cumulative 2-13. But the Jets have to play better than they did Sunday.

While the Jets could take positives in their first two losses from coming close and being competitive against AFC powers Indianapolis and New England, there were no feel-good moments for them at Alltel Stadium.

"(In) a loss like this," Mangini said, "everybody shares equal responsibility and everybody needs to improve."

And there are plenty of areas to improve. The run defense again was soft, while the Jets' offense committed four turnovers, including a season-high three interceptions by Chad Pennington.

Mangini, who included himself and his coaching staff among those that need to do a better job, seemed to indicate that the team has taken a step backward.

"We need to continually improve and this wasn't improvement," said Mangini, who noted that the Jaguars were more physical than his team. "This wasn't growth and this wasn't progress.

"The only way we can continue to grow is if we evaluate what we did poorly, and there's plenty of it to evaluate, and learn from it. And make sure it doesn't happen again."

Pennington entered the game third in the AFC in passer rating, but was intercepted by cornerback Brian Williams on the Jets' first drive, setting up a four-play, 50-yard drive that was finished by Maurice Jones-Drew's 6-yard run. Jacksonville then had its longest scoring drive of the game, a 71-yard march that ended with Fred Taylor's 13-yard romp up the middle.

Jacksonville went ahead 21-0 in the second quarter after the Jets' special teams contributed a miscue, as Ben Graham had his first punt blocked. Gerald Sensabaugh's block was recovered at the 8 and set up another short touchdown drive, and another pick by Pennington set up a 23-yard touchdown drive and a 28-0 lead.

The Jets appeared to have Jacksonville stopped after a third-down incompletion by Byron Leftwich (9-for-20, 140 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions), but a questionable roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Jonathan Vilma gave the Jaguars a first-and-goal at the 3.

The defense had other problems, as the Jaguars rushed for 181 yards at 4.6 yards per carry.

"The good thing is it doesn't count double or triple of anything like that," said Pennington, who was 10-for-17 for 71 yards with three interceptions. "It only counts as one game."

But he added, "We've really got to evaluate ourselves individually and as a team."

When asked if his first-year program had taken a step backward, Mangini replied, "the way that the program would take a step back is if we don't evaluate the problems that we had and learn from them."

Notes:

--RB Kevan Barlow didn't start, but that was more a technicality, as Brad Smith lined up at RB for the first play and carried for 5 yards. But Barlow may not start next week, as he had minus-1 yard on only four carries.

--RB Cedric Houston (knee) was inactive, and likely will miss another one to three games.

--RB Derrick Blaylock was active after being inactive for the previous two games, but had no touches.

--WR Laveranues Coles was limited to one reception for 4 yards, as he apparently was bothered by the calf injury that has plagued him recently.

--RB Leon Washington had 101 yards on 23 carries and very well could be the starting RB against Miami.

--QB Kellen Clemens saw his first action in the fourth quarter and threw an incompletion on his only pass attempt. Clemens, who was the third quarterback, was dragged down by Montavious Stanley for a sack on the Jets' final offensive play and got up gingerly, but walked to the sidelines on his own.

 

Related: Bills Report | Jets Confidential | Dolphin Digest | Patriots Insider

 


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