AFC East: Week Seven Review

The Buffalo Bills turned the ball over three times, giving away their chances in their rematch against the New England Patriots. Tom Brady and crew put TDs on the board early, stifling any thought of a Bills comeback. Dolphins QB Joey Harrington threw three INTs against a woeful Green Bay defense. The New York Jets held off a late charge by the Lions to remain the only other AFC East contender.

Division Report 10/23/06

Bills :: Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

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

Looking Back At Week Seven: Loss 28-6 vs Patriots

--Coach Dick Jauron said Monday he has no intention of replacing starting QB J.P. Losman, who has 11 turnovers this season, eight during the team's three-game losing streak. "Obviously when you believe in a guy, and we've talked about this a lot, it's a question of when do you know? The answer for me is, just like any other player, you'll know when you feel it," Jauron said when asked about replacing starters. "You will know it's time. I believe in this guy and I believe that we're going to struggle. We've been struggling lately and so has J.P., but I think he's going to be a good quarterback. We certainly have to push through, and we're going to stay with him and he's going to make plays and we'll come out on the other end as a football team. He took some shots, but clearly it's not just J.P. He's the focus of it all. He has to get better, but we all have to improve."

--New England QB Tom Brady's mastery of the Bills is really quite amazing. Sunday's win raised his career record against Buffalo to 11-1, the only loss a 31-0 aberration on opening day 2003 when he tossed four interceptions. In his 11 wins against the Bills, Brady has thrown 21 TDs and just six interceptions. Despite a strong Buffalo pass rush that produced four sacks, Brady calmly completed numerous big passes, including two for TDs. What happened? "He's Tom Brady," DT Larry Tripplett said. "He gets paid to make plays, and he did that. He's a very good quarterback."

--The Bills committed 16 penalties to New England's four in this season's two-game series. Sunday's nine-penalty performance by Buffalo was lowlighted by a roughing-the-passer flag on DE Chris Kelsay, who piled on Brady after the Patriots QB had slid to the ground and sat down to signal "no mas" at the end of a scramble for minus-3 yards on third down. The penalty kept the drive alive and led to Corey Dillon's second TD run and a 14-3 Patriots lead. "As a defensive player, you're just pursuing and trying to get him down at all costs," said Kelsay, who has a reputation for playing hard, not dirty. "(Brady) ended up sliding down, and when I came in, I didn't know he'd been touched. I didn't hear a whistle. It was late. I don't think it was violent. I don't think it was with the intention of hurting him or being flagrant."

--In the era of NFL parity, New England (5-1) owns the AFC East. Sunday's win made the Patriots 4-0 in the division this season and 29-7 since 2001. The Jets own the next-best record at 17-18. The Bills are 1-12 against New England since the second game of the 2000 season. They have lost seven consecutive season rematches, the last five by a combined 150-36 score. So much for this being the year New England came back to the pack. "I never said that. I certainly never felt that way," Bills coach Dick Jauron said.

--OG Aaron Merz, a sixth-round pick out of Cal, earned his first start Sunday in place of an injured Tutan Reyes (shoulder). Merz's first assignment meant going against star DE/DT Richard Seymour or squaring off against LBs Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau. Merz had his moments, including throwing a nice block on SS Rodney Harrison to spring RB Willis McGahee on a 56-yard shovel pass. "Hopefully I did what they expected of me and I'll get another shot," Merz said. "Everything slowed down by the second quarter. That's the biggest part of game, learning that it's not a whole lot different than the game I've been playing all of my life."

Player Notes:

--RB Willis McGahee's 56-yard reception against New England was the longest by a Bills running back in 10 seasons. Thurman Thomas had a 69-yard catch against Indianapolis on Oct. 6, 1996.

--TE Robert Royal's four catches for 36 yards matched a career-high. He had four catches against St. Louis last season while playing for Washington. Six of his nine catches this season have produced first downs, and he's hoping that production leads to a bigger role in the passing game the second half of the year.

--WR Peerless Price reached the 5,000-yard milestone with 53 yards on five catches against New England. He has 5,023 career yards.

--DE Aaron Schobel's two sacks against New England gave him 51.5 for his career and made him just the 114th player in NFL history to post 50 career sacks. The stat began being kept in 1982.

--KR/CB Terrence McGee's 47-yard return Sunday was his second 40-plus-yard return of the season. His 25.5 average ranks fifth in the AFC.

--WR Lee Evans, who was held to one catch by New England, now ranks fifth in the AFC catches with 37. He's also sixth in yardage with 430.

--WR Sam Aiken suffered a hamstring pull, but with the bye week won't have his status updated until next week.

--DE Ryan Denney suffered a hamstring and groin injury in Sunday's loss. With a bye week, the Bills won't update Denney's status until next week.

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

Looking Back At Week Seven: Loss 34-24 vs. Packers

--QB Joey Harrington tied a career high with 33 completions and set career highs with 62 attempts and 414 passing yards. He was more interested in talking about his three interceptions and the seven dropped passes. "I threw it to the wrong team, too. It happens, but it is not something that's going to affect my mind-set. It is not something that is going to affect the way I play, and it's definitely not going to affect my confidence in any of those guys."

--The 24 points marked the first time this season that the Dolphins scored more than 17. Their 448 yards of offense was the most since Oct. 10, 1999, against the Colts. It's Miami's high in a loss since 1995. The Dolphins scored their first first-quarter touchdown of the season.

Player News:

--WR Marty Booker had his best game of the season with seven catches for 110 yards, and he did with a sore chest and an injured ring finger. It was the 11th 100-yard receiving game of his career and fourth with the Dolphins. "Maybe this bye week will be good for us to start over and come back fresh," Booker said. "(My plays) didn't matter a damn because we didn't win the game."

Booker caught a pass for a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, marking the Dolphins' first successful two-point conversion since Dec. 4, 2004, when A.J. Feeley connected with Chris Chambers.

--DE Jason Taylor had two sacks and two forced fumbles while battling sore ribs and an injured toe. He has 99.5 career sacks.

--C Rex Hadnot left the game early with a neck stinger but returned in the second half.

--RG Jeno James injured a knee and may not be able to practice Wednesday.

--LB Channing Crowder had 11 tackles but sprained his foot. The bye week should help him recover.

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

Looking Back At Week Seven: Win 28-6 at Bills

--WR Doug Gabriel grabbed his team-high third touchdown pass of the season in the fourth quarter against the Bills to give the Patriots a 28-6 lead. Gabriel's three touchdowns tie his career high, also achieved in 2005 while with the Raiders. On the play, QB Tom Brady was scrambling around and threw the ball in the vicinity of three Bills defenders, but Gabriel is the one who hauled in the pass.

"Lucky," Brady said when describing the play. "I got away with one, but I'll take it. Just a tight throw, running right, throwing left. You don't get away with many of those. As soon as I threw it, I said, 'Oh God, why did I do that,' especially because it's 21-6. I think Doug made a great catch."

--Gabriel wasn't the only receiver making waves against the Bills. Rookie Chad Jackson only had one reception Sunday, but it went for 35 yards and was his second NFL touchdown. The catch was Jackson's fifth reception of the season. QB Tom Brady is pleased with the progress Jackson and all of the receivers have made over the weeks.

"Our receivers are doing a great job, they're working hard to get there," Brady said. "As I've said a thousand times at this point, we're trying to improve. I guess that doesn't come together as fast as you'd like. You have to get to know guys, but we're making an improvement. Like I said, if we keep doing that, we're going to be better."

--CB Asante Samuel picked off Bills QB J.P. Losman just before the half to snuff out a Buffalo drive. Samuel has a team-high three interceptions this season and is establishing himself as one of the better cornerbacks in the league, just in time to hit the free agent market at the end of the year.

"Asante has had a good year for us," coach Bill Belichick said. "He's playing well. He made some plays out there. Again, there were a couple I'm sure he wouldn't mind having back, but that's true for all of us. Asante has done a solid job for us. He's a good player. He's been consistent."

--The Patriots won their fifth consecutive regular-season road game Sunday. Since their last road loss (Nov. 27, 2005, at Kansas City), the Patriots have outscored their opponents 156-64, averaging 31.2 points per game while allowing just 12.8 points per game. The Patriots are now 14-4 against divisional opponents on the road since 2001.

--LB Mike Vrabel sacked J.P. Losman and forced him to fumble with 10:07 left in the first half, and NT Vince Wilfork pulled in the loose ball to give the Patriots possession on their own 48-yard line. For Vrabel, the play marked his ninth career forced fumble, gave him 1.5 sacks for the season and 35.5 sacks for his career.

--RB/KR Laurence Maroney returned a kickoff 74 yards following Buffalo's first-quarter field goal. The return was the longest kickoff return for the Patriots since Dec. 4, 2004, when Bethel Johnson returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in a 42-15 victory at Cleveland. Maroney's return set up a four-play touchdown drive that ended in a 12-yard scoring run by Corey Dillon and gave the Patriots a 14-3 lead.

--The Patriots scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time this season and for the first time since Dec. 26, 2005, when they achieved the feat to begin a 31-21 road victory over the Jets. Prior to Sunday, the Patriots had punted three times, kicked a field goal and lost a fumble on their five opening possessions this season. The Patriots scored 14 points in the first quarter against Buffalo. In their first five games combined, they had totaled 17 first-quarter points.

"You'd like to do that every game," Belichick said. "You'd like to be playing from ahead in the games instead of playing from behind, like we did against these guys (in the opener) and against Denver. That's not really what you want. Sometimes that's the way it is. But it's good to start well and try to get the upper hand, and try to get into your game and not have to react to some situation you don't want to be in."

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

Looking Back At Week Seven: Win 31-24 vs. Lions

--WR Justin McCareins' 44-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter broke a four-game streak without a catch, but the veteran tried to take it in stride afterward.

"Things can be really good for you or disappointing in this game," he said. "I'm going to continue to work hard and hope to get more chances to make plays for this team."

--The Jets' two first-quarter offensive touchdowns marked the first time they had scored an offensive TD in the first period since Sept. 18, 2005 against Miami. They had gone 20 games without doing that.

"I think you guys made a lot more of that than we did," said LG Pete Kendall. "We had a tendency this year to sort of start slow, but I think we've been ahead at the half in probably four or five games."

Indeed, the Jets now have led at halftime against Tennessee, Buffalo, Miami and Detroit and were tied with Indianapolis at the intermission.

"So it really wasn't anything that we talked about," Kendall added, "like we have to score a first-quarter touchdown or we're going to tie a franchise mark or you guys are going to keep writing about it."

This was the first time since Sept. 19, 2004 against San Diego that the Jets scored two first-quarter offensive TDs, a span of 38 games, including playoffs.

--WR Jerricho Cotchery, who had a team-high seven receptions for 79 yards, knew that he would get a lot of work Sunday. He anticipated that Lions' defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, formerly the Jets' coordinator, would have his defense pay special attention to Laveranues Coles.

"I definitely knew the entire week that Donnie was going to try to take him out of the game," Cotchery said. "Donnie was here. He knows what type of player LC is, so he knows what kind of difference he can make. So I knew he was going to try to take him out and there were going to be some opportunities for me."

Coles had four catches for 29 yards.

"Anytime you come back and play these guys you know there's a little more excitement and adrenaline," said Detroit S Jon McGraw, also a Jets' expatriate. "I think (Henderson) kept his composure real well on the sideline."

Henderson declined to speak with New York-area media on his way to the bus.

Player News:

--CB-KR Justin Miller's 56-yard kickoff return was his longest since a 103-yard touchdown against Indianapolis on Oct. 1. He had three returns for 98 yards and four solo tackles.

--WR-QB Brad Smith had three rushes for 16 yards. He had an 8-yard end-around from WR, and converted a third-and-3 with a 6-yard run.

--WR-PR Tim Dwight had one reception for 4 yards. He had no punt returns, as Detroit punted out of bounds once and for a touchback the other time.

--OL Trey Teague (ankle) was inactive for the seventh straight game. Coach Eric Mangini indicated Monday that Teague has had a setback to his rehab progress in recent weeks.

--CB Andre Dyson left the game briefly in the fourth quarter after being knocked down hard, but returned to the game soon afterward.

--K Mike Nugent attempted one field goal and converted it, and is 3-for-3 in the last two games, with all of those from 33 yards. Nugent is 5-for-7 on the season with a long of 42 yards.


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

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