All season long the Buffalo Bills have not found a way to improve their run defense. On Sunday afternoon in their season finale against the New York Jets, who were resting their starters and playing with mostly backups, the Bills’ run defense showed why they’re not only the worst unit in the NFL, but why they’ve been the worst rushing defense in the league for the last two seasons.
Former USC product and backup running back Joe McKnight ran roughshod over the Bills, totaling 158 yards on 32 carries as the Jets blasted the Bills in the season finale, 38-7. Backup quarterback Mark Brunell started in place of Mark Sanchez, who the Jets wisely rested with a sore shoulder. Brunell threw for 110 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets earned their fourth 11-win season in franchise history and it’s the first time since 1998 the Jets have won 11 games or more.
As for the Bills, it was a finale to forget in the new year. Ryan Fitzpatrick tried to give it a go in warmups but just wasn’t able to make it on the field. Instead, Brian Brohm was pressed into action starting just his second career game in the NFL. Brohm completed just 10 of 23 passes for 106 yards and threw three interceptions. Brohm was also sacked three times and posted a QB rating of 17.9.
The lone positive from the game was Bills safety Jairus Byrd, who recorded his first intercetpion of the season and returned it 37 yards for the Bills’ only score of the game. New York raced out to a 17-0 lead at halftime thanks to a 28-yard field goal by kicker Nick Folk, a Marquice Cole 35-yard interception return for a touchdown and a Mark Brunell 17-yard pass to Santonio Holmes just before halftime.
Byrd’s pick turned into a touchdown gave the Bills some life early in the third quarter but it wouldn’t last. Brunell hooked up with Braylon Edwards for a 52-yard strike to effectively put the game away at 6:41 of the third quarter, with the Jets comfortably in front 24-7. Third string quarterback Kellen Clemens rushed for a 10-yard touchdown and John Conner had a 16-yard touchdown run to cap off the Jets’ scoring in the fourth quarter.
The Bills’ season comes to a close and a very disappointing close when you consider their performances the last two weeks of the season against the top two teams in the AFC East. Buffalo had won four of their last six games following a terrible 0-8 start. They were making good, positive strides collectively but we found out that despite tough, hard fought wins over the likes of Detroit and Cleveland, and road wins against Cincinnati and Miami, the level of competition spikes tremendously when the Bills clashed with New England and New York. And Buffalo didn’t make a ripple against either team.
Over the final two games against the Patriots and Jets, the Bills were outscored 72-10 and committed 13 turnovers in those two games. It’s painfully evident despite good strides and some progress, Buffalo remains miles and miles behind New England and New York.
Playing for pride and respect today, the Bills again decided to run and hide from a superior opponent. I can’t imagine the coaching staff and the front office will find many positive plays on the game film when they sit down and evaluate this game and the similar debacle against New England. The Bills finish the season 1-5 in the AFC East and 4-12 overall.
It’s the worst record the Bills have had since 2001 when they finished 3-13.