AFC East: Week Fourteen Review

The Buffalo Bills knocked off the surging New York Jets, potentially crushing their playoff hopes. The Jets went from playoff and possible division contender to long shot to make the postseason. While the Miami Dolphins found a way to disrupt Tom Brady and shutout New England's offense for the first time in three years. Get inside for news, notes and more on week 14.

Division Report as of 12/12/06

Bills :: Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

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

Looking Back At Week 14: W 31-13 at NY Jets

The Bills are hoping to get starting defensive backs Terrence McGee and Donte Whitner back for this week's showdown with the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

McGee (ankle), a cornerback, and Whitner (hamstring), a strong safety, missed Sunday's win over the New York Jets and were replaced by veteran Kiwaukee Thomas and second-year man Jim Leonhard, respectively.

"They'll be in for treatment, but we probably won't do a whole lot with them on the field until Wednesday," coach Dick Jauron said.

Linebacker Takeo Spikes, who injured an ankle in the first half, was able to return in the second half against the Jets and will be fine for the Dolphins games.

Running back Willis McGahee, who sat out the entire second quarter with an upset stomach, continues to perform with tender ribs and a bad ankle. His practice schedule will be adjusted accordingly to give him just enough repetitions to be ready for the game without overdoing it.

Jauron can't say enough about McGahee's toughness and his talent.

Asked why McGahee has topped 100 yards in each of his five career starts against the Jets after scoring on a 57-yard run and finishing with 125 yards on 16 carries, Jauron said: "The only thing I can say is that Willis is good. He's bigger than he looks, and he carries it really well and he's quick. I think he's quicker and faster than he's been. People tell me that, because this is the first year I've been around him, but he's fast and he's big."

Notes:

--RB Willis McGahee is 207 yards shy of his third consecutive 1,000-yard season with three games to go. He has five touchdowns on the year and 23 for his career, tying him with Jim Braxton for eighth place in team history.
--WR Lee Evans' 77-yard TD catch against the Jets, along with two 83-yard scores against Houston, made him the first NFL player with three TD catches longer than 75 yards in a single season since Cleveland's Webster Slaughter in 1989.
--QB J.P. Losman has back-to-back multiple touchdown games for the first time in his career. His 140.8 rating on Sunday against the Jets was the highest by a Bills QB since Drew Bledsoe posted 144.2 against Jacksonville in 2003.
--TE Robert Royal has caught a TD pass in two consecutive games, giving him seven for his career. The Bills are beginning to use the tight end more in the red zone, and Royal is getting free near the goal line with regularity.
--WR/PR Roscoe Parrish had just three returns for 17 yards on Sunday against the Jets, dropping his season average from a league-high 13.5 yards to 12.7. That's still good for second heading into Sunday's game against Miami.
--DE Aaron Schobel is tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 12.5 after Sunday's three-sack show against the Jets. That's a personal high with three games to play.
--CB Nate Clements' 58-yard interception return for a touchdown was the 22nd interception of his career, tying him with George Saimes for ninth on the Bills' career list.
--LB London Fletcher intercepted his team-leading third pass against the Jets and added nine tackles. He ranks third in the NFL in tackles with 121.
--DE Ryan Denney has a career-best five sacks.
--PK Rian Lindell kicked a season-high four extra points on Sunday against the Jets, raising his career streak to 218 for 218. He's never missed a PAT in his career.


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

Looking Back At Week 14: W 21-0 vs New England

Despite coming off arguably his most impressive victory as an NFL head coach -- a 21-0 blanking of the Patriots and his mentor Bill Belichick -- Dolphins coach Nick Saban was quickly brought off his good mood Monday when he was again asked about the Alabama coaching job.

So for the umpteenth time in the past two weeks, Saban tried to squash the rumors.

"I'm not talking about that, guys," Saban said. "I've addressed that enough. When does this become a dead story?

"I've already said what I said. I talked to our team. I don't think I need to continue to address this. I'm about trying to beat Buffalo and focusing on that."

Perhaps if Saban had been forthright the first time he was asked if he had been contacted by Alabama, the story would have died. Instead, Saban said he had not been contacted and had no interest. However, last Thursday Saban admitted that Alabama officials had spoken to his agent Jimmy Sexton "several times" about the job.

Over the weekend, ESPN's Chris Mortensen theorized that if Alabama didn't have a coach in place by Jan. 1 then they'd take another run at Saban after the Dolphins season ended.

NBC's Peter King said Sunday night that he twice gave Saban the chance to deny any interest in the Alabama job, and both times Saban backed off.

"I in no way wanted to indicate to him or anybody else that there was any possibility of that," Saban said. "I have no intentions of going anywhere. Hell, they may not want me here after this season. Did you ever think of that?"

King has since contacted Saban again and believes that he will not coach anywhere else in 2007. Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga also said Monday that he believed it was a "dead issue," as well.

Notes:

--RB Ronnie Brown is expected to miss his third consecutive game while recovering from a broken left hand.
--RB Sammy Morris has replaced Brown in the last two games and is coming off a career-high 123 yards against the Patriots third-ranked run defense. The bulk of Morris' yards came in the fourth quarter (83 yards) as the Patriots seem to have been worn down by the Dolphins offensive line.
--QB Joey Harrington sprained his ankle after falling over Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork at the end of the first half Sunday. He didn't miss a snap, but ankle injuries some times worsen a day or two after the initial twist.
--WR Chris Chambers twisted his ankle and sprained his knee on the same play that Harrington was injured. Chambers also returned and finished with just three catches for a season-low 11 yards. The players have been off since Sunday and return to practice on Wednesday.
--WR Marty Booker is on fire and has become Harrington's go-to-guy over the past month. He had a season-high eight catches for 103 yards Sunday, including a 32-yard touchdown and two-point conversion grab.
--TE Randy McMichael had three catches for 31 yards Sunday and provided solid pass protection blocking for Harrington.
--DE Matt Roth has been blossoming of late in his reserve role in the pass-rushing scheme. Roth had 1.5 sacks Sunday and forced a fumble by Tom Brady that was recovered by Patriots center Dan Koppen. Roth had a career-high two sacks in the Thanksgiving Day victory over the Lions.
--SS Yeremiah Bell continues to play like a Pro Bowl defensive back with a team-leading nine tackles and his usual game-deciding play when he sacked, stripped and recovered a fumble by Brady in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Since Bell has been inserted into the starting lineup the Dolphins are 5-1.
--DE Jason Taylor continued his torrid pace on the way to Defensive Player of the Year honors as he notched a sack and forced his NFL-leading eighth forced fumble. DT Jeff Zgonina recovered it late in the fourth quarter. Taylor also had one quarterback hurry and several knockdowns of Brady.
--P Donnie Jones was Saban's special teams player of the week for placing three punts inside the 5-yard line and helping the Dolphins maintain a huge edge in field position throughout the game.
--CB Eddie Jackson was declared inactive for the first time this season because he's nursing a sore hamstring. Jackson is a stalwart on special teams.
--C Rex Hadnot missed a series on Sunday with a shoulder injury. LG Kendyl Jacox slid over to center and Toniu Fonoti filled in at left guard. Hadnot will be evaluated on Wednesday.


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

Looking Back At Week 14: L 0-21 at Miami

Notes:

--QB Tom Brady threw for just 78 yards on 12-of-25 completions with no touchdowns for a 55.1 passer rating in the shutout loss in Miami. Brady is now 2-4 in his career as a starter in Miami. He's thrown for less than 100 yards in a start just four times in his six seasons as a starter for the Patriots and all four have come against the Dolphins.
--RB Corey Dillon had his third most productive day of the season in terms of yards in the loss in Miami, carrying 16 times for 79 yards (4.9 avg.). With the performance, and rookie Laurence Maroney missing the game with a back injury, Dillon took the team lead in rushing with 157 carries for 654 yards (4.2 avg.) and 10 touchdowns on the season.
--WR Troy Brown caught three passes for 25 yards in Sunday's losing effort. The 14-year veteran now has 35 receptions for 323 yards and three touchdowns on the season and is on pace to record his most receptions since he caught 97 passes in 2002.
--WR Reche Caldwell was the only other Patriots receiver to record a catch in Miami, hauling in a single pass for 12 yards. Caldwell continues to rank second on the team with 47 passes for 586 yards on the season.
--TE Benjamin Watson caught a single pass for 5 yards in the shutout loss, but continues to lead the team with 49 catches for 643 yards. Watson ranks tied for 23rd in the AFC in catches and tied for fifth among conference tight ends. Watson left Sunday's loss with a left knee injury and did not return. His status for this week's game against the Texans remains unknown.
--LB Tedy Bruschi tied for a game-high with nine tackles against Miami. The defensive captain leads the Patriots with 101 stops on the season, according to New England's coaches.
--DE Ty Warren continued his breakout season against Miami, finishing second on the team with six tackles while adding a sack. Through 13 games Warren has already established career highs with 94 tackles and 6.5 sacks, a numbers that rank second and first respectively among Patriots defenders.
--DB Ray Mickens saw significant action against the Dolphins, serving as New England's primary nickel back just days after joining the team. The 11th year veteran had spent the first few months of 2006 out of football, but recorded two tackles in his first action since late last fall in Cleveland.
--P Ken Walter continues to struggle since his return to New England to replace an injured Josh Miller. Walter punted seven times for a 34.1-yard average in the loss to Miami, with a 29.0-yard net and two kicks downed inside the Dolphins' 20. In his three games since re-signing with the Patriots, Walter has a 35.9-yard average with a 32.9-yard net.
--CB/KR Ellis Hobbs returned his first kickoff of the season for a 51-yard gain against the Dolphins. Hobbs was filling in for injured rookie returner Laurence Maroney who missed the game with a back injury.
--NT Vince Wilfork left Sunday's loss in Miami in the third quarter with a right lower leg injury and did not return. His status moving forward is unknown.


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

Looking Back At Week 14: L 13-31 vs Buffalo

The oft-injured Chad Pennington is only three games away from making it through an entire 16-game regular-season schedule for the first time in his NFL career.

But if he is replaced at any time the rest of the way because of injury or ineffectiveness, it very well could be rookie Kellen Clemens who gets the call.

Against Buffalo, not only did Clemens get four snaps on the Jets' final series in a mop-up role, he also was the No. 2 quarterback for the first time this season. Patrick Ramsey was listed as the third quarterback.

"Kellen had strung together a number of good weeks," coach Eric Mangini said. "We felt he should be bumped up to No. 2. It was just that time where he had earned it."

"They told me Saturday night, right after the offense-defense meetings," said Clemens, a second-round choice. "And I was excited. I slept pretty good that night. I was excited to have the opportunity.

"Apparently I'm making some progress, in the coaches' eyes," Clemens added. "I came here to hopefully compete and help the team out any way I can. Being No. 2 and moving up the chart a little bit, I'm excited about moving in the right direction."

Clemens is 0-for-2 in pass attempts in two mop-up stints this season, and has been sacked four times in 11 snaps. Ramsey has attempted one pass, a long incompletion against Houston after Pennington came out of the game briefly because he had the wind knocked out of him. Pennington returned after Ramsey's one snap.

"I'm not sure whether it's permanent or not," Ramsey said. "What I'm going to do is come out here, work on the game plan and be ready whenever the time comes and do whatever I can to help the team. Obviously, I want the opportunity to play again."

It's becoming apparent that he probably won't get that opportunity here. Most likely, Pennington will be competing against Clemens and perhaps a different veteran quarterback in 2007 for the starting role. Ramsey doesn't appear to be in the Jets' plans.

"I had a hunch that things were changing," Clemens said. "The last couple of weeks I definitely got more reps with our offense in practice."

With the Jets preparing to visit Minnesota, Mangini said of the No. 2 job, "It'll be open again this week and whoever plays better will be the two."

Notes:

--QB Chad Pennington went 22-for-35 for 182 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions against Buffalo. He had only 63 yards passing in the second half. His first-half interception off a tipped ball was returned 58 yards for a touchdown by Nate Clements.
--RB Leon Washington started and had 55 yards on seven carries. His 18-yard end-around was the Jets' longest run of the game.
--RB Cedric Houston didn't start, but had the most carries (18) of any Jet. However, he gained only 50 yards for a 2.8-yard average. He also was trapped three times for losses.
--TE Chris Baker had two receptions for 17 yards, his second straight multiple-catch game after five consecutive games with one catch apiece.
--WR Laveranues Coles had four receptions for 67 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown catch. He also had a 23-yard reception for the Jets' longest play of the game.
--WR Jerricho Cotchery had five receptions for 37 yards. He is averaging six catches over his last seven games.
--SS Kerry Rhodes had a team-leading seven tackles.
--LB Victor Hobson had two sacks. He also had six tackles.
--LB Jonathan Vilma was in on only one tackle. Vilma led the NFL in tackles in 2005, but has struggled at times in the Jets' new 3-4 defense this season.
--LB-DE Bryan Thomas had at least one sack for the third consecutive game, as he dropped J.P. Losman for an 8-yard loss in the second quarter.

 

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


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