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The AFC East’s week one results didn’t prove much for fans of the New England Patriots or the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots systematically dismantled an inferior Tennessee Titans team on the way to a 34-13 rout. Tom Brady looked on point, and starting running back Stevan Ridley turned some heads with 125 rushing yards. Defensive rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower made an immediate impact, collaborating on a strip sack touchdown. Overall, no surprises at New England, and the Patriots remain one of the favorites to represent the AFC in the Superbowl yet again.
At the bottom of the division lay the Miami Dolphins, who were highlighted on this season of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ and endured some hard knocks of their own in a Week 1 loss to the Houston Texans. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggled with his accuracy, and made some prototypical rookie mistakes as the veteran Texans capitalized. Rookie Head Coach Joe Philbin has his hands full with an inexperienced offensive line and a green quarterback behind center. The Dolphins are in for a long season if they continue to commit turnovers at the rate they did on Sunday.
The real surprise of the NFL’s kickoff weekend came in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the New York Jets put up 48 points on route to a decisive victory over their divisional rival, the Buffalo Bills. An offensive unit that seemed inept for the entirety of the preseason came out firing against the supposedly new and improved Buffalo defense. Mark Sanchez had one of his best games as a pro, tossing three touchdowns to only one interception and completing over 70 percent of his passes. Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill and second-year standout Jeremy Kerley contributed for two touchdowns each, including one by punt return for Kerley. Tim Tebow was virtually irrelevant for the Jets, contributing five carries for eleven yards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick of Buffalo looked shaky, tossing three interceptions, one of which was returned easily for a touchdown by Antonio Cromartie. Starting running back Fred Jackson left with a knee injury, and while C.J. Spiller handled the load admirably, Buffalo will sorely miss Jackson’s versatility and experience alongside Fitzpatrick.
Prized free agent signee Mario Williams was a virtual no-show for Buffalo, as was the rest of the Bills defense. Buffalo fans are left scratching their head as to the promise of this season, whereas Jets supporters are already talking about a return to AFC glory. After one week this talk may be premature, but the Jets certainly proved that they can perform on both sides of the football.
For week two, the Jets travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, Miami hosts Oakland, Buffalo is at home against Kansas City, and New England takes on Arizona in Foxboro.
Image Courtesy of New England Patriots