Today’s game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets was a meeting between two teams with different storylines in 2008.
The New York Jets have seized the opportunity created by Tom Brady’s injury and have catapulted themselves into the thick of the AFC East race, while the Bills toyed with their fans earlier in the season with a great start only to fall to their normal poor level of play.
Keeping these storylines in mind the obvious assumption was that the Jets would be a team with much more motivation, and would play that way. The Bills are already out of playoff contention and are basically playing for draft positioning (from a fan’s perspective) and pride at this point. But after the first quarter it was the Bills who seemed more motivated, maybe because they’re trying to keep their player friendly coach around for another season
It started off as expected as the Jets dominated the first quarter, outscoring the Bills 14-3. The first scoring drive was 72 yards, the second 70, so it was safe to say the Jets dominated the quarter. The first drive was capped off by a Thomas Jones 2 yard TD run, while the second was completed with an 11 yard TD pass from Brett Favre to Jerricho Cotchery. In the quarter the Bills only managed to have success with one drive, a 52 yard drive capped off by a 34 yard Rian Lindell FG. The highlights of the drive were a 6 yard Keith Ellison run (yes, the LB Ellison) from a punt formation, and a 35 yard Marshawn Lynch run.
In the second quarter the Bills started to gain momentum to the disgust of Jets fans throughout the stadium. After a Paul Posluzny interception the Bills started their first drive of the quarter at the 50 yard line. Using the one-two punch of Marshwan Lynch and Fred Jackson the Bills drove down the field with the result being an 8 yard TD run by J.P. Losman.
On the Jets next series they quickly were forced to punt, and Robert Parrish returned the kick 56 yards to the Jets’ 24, and in just 4 plays the Bills were in the end-zone once again after a 2 yard TD pass from J.P. Losman to Steve Johnson. The Jets answered with a big play of their own, as with 1:05 left in the half Leon Washington ran off right guard for a 47 yard TD run to give the Jets the lead back right before the half, 21-17.
The third quarter was relatively uneventful as the only score was a Rian Lindell 48 yard Field Goal after a Terrence McGee interception, which made the score 21-20, Jets advantage, going into the 4th.
After the Jets started the scoring in the 4th with a 31 yard Jay Feely field goal the Bills rebounded with a scoring drive of their own. For the first time all day Losman lead the charge with his arm, hitting four straight completions before the drive was capped by a 9 yard Marshawn Lynch run followed by an 11 yard Fred Jackson TD run. On the run Fred Jackson carried half the Jets team over the goal line, and the Jets fans shared their distaste for how poorly the Jets’ run defense was performing.
At this point only 5:39 was left remaining and the Bills had the momentum with a 27-24 lead. The Jets were forced to punt with 4:29 remaining, and the Bills one again successfully ran the ball to run the clock down to the 2:06 mark, which forced a Jets’ timeout.
It was at this point that the Bills were once again done in by poor QB play and inexplicable play calling by the Bills’ coaches. On the following 2nd and 5 play the Bills decided to attempt a pass play rather than let Lynch run the ball to sap the clock, a questionable decision considering how dominant Lynch was all game. Losman rolled to his right under pressure and was sacked for an 11 yard loss by Abram Elam, in which he fumbled the ball. Shaun Ellis picked up the ball and rumbled for an 11 yard TD run and the Bills’ fate was set. They had two more opportunities, one being a Hail-Mary pass, but both efforts ended with J.P. Losman interceptions.
With just a little over two minutes left the Jets’ looked like they had accepted they were about to lose while their fans watched in silence. But thanks to their big play defense and bone headed decision making, and play, by the Bills QB and coaches the Jets are very much a part of the AFC East race. The Bills on the other hand have suffered through a collapse of monumental proportions and their fans are left to wonder if they will ever reach the playoffs in Ralph Wilson’s lifetime.
J.P. Losman did little to help his stock for free agency with just 148 yards passing to go along with 1 TD and 3 interceptions. Marshawn Lynch had another brilliant day with 127 yards rushing, as the Jets had no answer to stop him, but the Bills once again went away from arguably their best player when it mattered most. The Bills receivers were largely ineffective, as Josh Reed was the leading receiver with just 43 yards receiving. The Bills’ defense settled down to play very well after the 1st quarter, but once again they watched their offense spoil their efforts.
For the Jets Brett Favre had 207 yards passing with 1 TD and 2 interceptions. The two headed running tandem of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington was once again effective, as Jones had 78 yards rushing with a TD while Washington had 1 rush for his 47 yard TD run. Laverneus Coles was the leading receiver with 82 yards receiving, while the Jets defense obviously came through when it mattered after a poor effort the majority of the afternoon.
In the end the Bills are left wondering if there is anything they can do to win again, while the Jets will aim to keep pace in the very competitive AFC East divisional race. And while Jets’ fans were unhappy the majority of the afternoon they were able to celebrate in the end, while Bills fans go to work on Monday morning frustrated once again with their team’s collapse. If nothing else they have plenty of things to talk about around the water cooler, and the holidays will be a pleasant distraction from their not so beloved Bills.