On a swinging Sunday, no team saw their fortunes swing as much as the New York Jets in the span of 6 hours. Leading into the week, I looked at an AFC playoff picture that had the Jets just on the outside, with New York needing to win key games against the Bills and Patriots to reverse the outlook. The Jets dominated the game in Buffalo, 27-11, pulling away in the third quarter. New York’s pass defense limited Fitzpatrick to less than 50% completions and he threw two interceptions, and Fred Jackson’s costly fumble set up the Jets’ touchdown that made it 13-0 in the third quarter.
New York left Buffalo with an identical 5-3 record, a road win in hand, and then got more good results in New England. The Patriots offense did not score in the first half, the result of consistently poor field position, coming up just short on third down to sustain drives, and costly turnovers. Brady threw an interception on the first drive of the second half, leading to a field goal, and fumbled on a sack on the next one, resulting immediately in a Brandon Jacobs’ touchdown run. Through the first three quarters, the Patriots defense played better and kept them in the game while the offense struggled. As the offense finally came on late, the defense fell apart, though. New England twice had leads in the fourth quarter, and surrendered two touchdown drives to the Giants, both coming in the last 3:07.
So, we are left with this. The Patriots have now scored less than 21 points in three straight games, losing the last two, after going 13 straight regular season games with at least 30 points. The defense continues to give up yards and could not make a stop at the end of a close game. The Jets and Patriots are now tied at 5-3, leading into the game this Sunday in New York. The winner is the favorite to win the AFC East.
Other AFC teams had big days as well. The Ravens won with a late touchdown drive last night, sweeping Pittsburgh. The Bengals won a key swing game at Tennessee, and as a result, now need to play the Steelers and Ravens evenly to have a shot at the postseason. The Texans are lurking at 6-3 after another dominant win over a weak opponent, and with the day’s results in New England and Pittsburgh, are just one-half game off the conference lead, with the easiest schedule over the second half. The Broncos are somehow just one game back in the AFC West, after the rest of the division plays hot potato with the football.
None though, had as big a day as the J-E-T-S, who now find themselves in position to shoot past the Patriots and Bills after a wild Sunday.
[photo via Getty]