AFC East Review: Dolphins Hold on for Wild Win at Foxborough

The Miami Dolphins have opened the season with back-to-back road victories. Most importantly, the Dolphins have protected quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who took many vicious shots last season. Keeping Tagovailoa off the ground will be a season-long challenge for Miami, which has positioned itself as the favorite to win the division.

But Buffalo showed Sunday that the Dolphins shouldn’t be planning to make AFC East Division championship gear just yet. The Bills returned from a horrifying Week 1 road loss to the New York Jets. The Jets saw what life without Aaron Rodgers and with former first-round pick Zach Wilson would look like. 

Things were ugly for the Jets in their crushing loss to the Cowboys. The Patriots fought valiantly for the second straight week at home but ultimately came up short again. This division race is shaping up to be a fun one, especially at the top.

 

Place Team W L T Week 2 Result
1. Miami Dolphins 2 0 0 W, 24-17 at New England Patriots
2. New York Jets 1 1 0 L, 30-10 at Dallas Cowboys
3. Buffalo Bills 1 1 0 W, 38-10 vs. Las Vegas Raiders
4. New England Patriots 0 2 0 L, 24-17 vs. Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Outmaneuvers Belichick

Dolphins Chargers Football
Miami Dolphins

Four of Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s last five games against Bill Belichick-coached defense has seen his production drop considerably. Hill was once again held in New England’s defense Sunday night. Fortunately for the Dolphins, their offense is dynamic enough to attack opponents in different ways.

Miami was able to gash New England’s rush defense. The Miami Dolphins saw running back Raheem Mostert piled up 121 rushing yards on 18 carries. He also scored two touchdowns. Hill was limited to five catches and 40 yards but still found a way to score a touchdown. Hill has finished with 70 yards or fewer in his last five games facing a Belichick defense.

 

Patriots Fought For Every Inch

 

New England offensive guard Cole Strange was happy to return to action following returning from a knee injury against the Dolphins. What Strange was likely not expecting was to be involved in one of the most pivotal plays of the game. On fourth-and-five late in the game, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones completed a pass to tight end Mike Gesicki.

Knowing that he was short of the first down, Gesicki turned to lateral the ball to a teammate when he was wrapped up by a Miami Dolphins defender. The lateral was well-thrown, and Strange was able to pull it in and move forward inside the Dolphins’ 30-yard line. However, Strange was wrapped up by several Miami defenders.

He would end up being pulled down inches short of the first-down maker. Strange would be credited with the first three receiving yards of his career.

 

Allen Earns Some Redemption

Josh-Allen
Josh Allen

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen turned the page quickly from a Week 1 disaster. After turning the ball over four times against the Jets, Allen was able to get himself and the Bills on the right track. Allen completed 84 percent of his passes and threw for three touchdowns during Buffalo’s 28-point victory over the Raiders

Allen was able to get Gabe Davis involved in the passing game. Davis caught six passes for 92 yards and scored a touchdown. Khalil Shakir and Dawson Knox also caught touchdown passes for the Bills.

Jets Back to Reality

 

The New York Jets Super Bowl aspirations went out the window when quarterback Aaron Rodgers was lost for the season due to injury. Rodgers’ loss also brought back an old problem the Jets’ fan base is used to. Former first-round pick Zach Wilson is starting under center and is overwhelmed by the moment.

Wilson went 12-of-27 last Sunday against  Dallas and threw three interceptions. Wilson passed for 170 yards and was sacked three times. New York doesn’t have a great emergency plan, either. The Jets signed Tim Boyle recently, who served as a backup quarterback in four seasons with Detroit, Chicago, and Green Bay. Boyle has made three starts in his career. All three of Boyle’s starts came during the 2021 season with Detroit.

 

Tua Moves to 5-0 vs. Patriots

 

New England hasn’t found a way to slow down the Tagovailoa-led Miami Dolphins just yet. In five starts against the Patriots, Tagovailoa has completed 68.8 percent of his passes. While he hasn’t put up any big passing totals, Tagovailoa has been remarkably consistent against the Patriots, who typically field strong defense.

On Sunday, Tagovailoa completed 70 percent of his passes for 249 yards with one touchdown. The most yards Tagovailoa has ever thrown for against New England came last season, when he put up 270 yards with a touchdown.

 

Cook Finds a Way to Put Up Big Numbers

 

Second-year Bills running back James Cook found major holes in the Raiders’ defense Sunday. Cook carried the ball 17 times for a career-high 123 yards. He also caught four passes for 36 yards. Cook had never topped the 100-yard mark before in his career.

Cook’s previous best rushing total was when he finished with 99 yards during a 35-13 win over Chicago on Dec. 24, 2022. It was a major turnaround from the first week when Cook was held below 4.0 yards per carry by the Jets’ strong defense.

 

Schooler Shows Some Ingenuity 

 

Second-year Patriots safety Brenden Schooler showed that the game of football can continue to evolve after a century of existence and thousands of games played. With the Miami Dolphins set to attempt a 55-yard field goal in the third quarter ahead 17-3, Schooler made a unique play to change the game. 

He took a running start across the line of scrimmage before turning suddenly, charging toward the kicker, and blocking the field goal attempt. The Patriots would take advantage of the momentum surge to cash in with a touchdown and cut the lead to seven points.