The Jets went into today's season opener at Buffalo hopeful that they could get the 2017 season off to a flying start.
But their lack of consistent offense and strong running by LeSean McCoy and the Bills clipped the Green & White's wings in their 21-12 loss.
Thus, the Jets said goodbye to their short-lived winning streak over their AFC East rivals after last year's sweep. They lost to the Bills at New Era Field for the fifth time in six years and now will try to get back to .500 next Sunday in a tough spot — the Black Hole in Oakland.
Here are six takeaways from today's game:
1. Swat Team
The Jets defense yielded 67 yards on the Bills' opening drive. But at times they showed good pass defense, specifically on three breakups of Tyrod Taylor passes. Kony Ealy and Muhammad Wilkerson swatted away the first two behind the line, and Juston Burris got the third when he plucked the pass that Charles Clay couldn't handle in the end zone and returned it out of harm's way. Early adversity diverted. Jamal Adams added a fourth PD on a strip incompletion of Clay in the second quarter.
- Hosts Shift into Drive**
But Buffalo's third drive was even longer — 12 plays, 77 yards — and this one produced the game's first points, on Taylor's slingshot to Clay with Marcus Maye trailing in coverage. At the half the Bills held sizable edges in first downs (15-4), yardage (236-85) and possession time (18:08-11:52).
3. On the Money Early
The Jets offense wasn't helping in the field position battle as Josh McCown's unit went 3-and-out on its first two drives. Then on its next two series, the O did better, with both ending in long Chandler Catanzaro field goals. The driving force was McCown's accuracy in the short game. He was 12-of-15 in the first half for 85 yards, with two of the incompletions drops by Matt Forte and the third a throwaway.
McCown rallied the Jets late in the third quarter with his scoring keeper on fourth-and-goal from a foot out, but his two-point pass didn't work, making it 14-12, and then the Bills' final TD made it a two-score game. And McCown's passing fell off some to 14-of-23 in the second half and he threw two late interceptions to seal the Green & White's fate.
4. Run Down
A big difference in this outcome was the running game. The Bills had one, the Jets didn't. McCoy, the tackle-breaking machine, ran for 110 yards on 22 carries (and added 49 more on five catches) and the Bills rolled for 190 yards on the ground against the Jets' run defense, which had been second in the NFL in 2015-16 against the run.
The Jets' run game, meanwhile, was stuffed by LB Ramon Humber and the Buffalo front wall. In the third quarter they managed 12 yards on nine carries before finishing with 38 yards on 15 carries.
Top Photos from the Season-Opener at New Era Field in Orchard Park
5. Opening It Up
The Bills moved down the field often enough to apply mounting pressure to the Jets' operations. Their third march of more than 60 yards produced Taylor's 1-yard touchdown toss to WR Andre Holmes, who had two TD catches for Oakland vs. the Jets in 2015. The big play of the drive was the 47-yard catch-and-run by WR Jordan Matthews with CB Buster Skrine closing late in coverage over the middle.
Then their fourth long drive, this one for 80 yards, was crowned by Mike Tolbert's 1-yard run for the 21-12 lead with 12:47 left in the game.
6. Catman Can
Catanzaro looked sharp and strong in his first game as the Jets' new kicker. His 48- and 52-yard second-quarter field goals kept the Jets in the game, with the 52-yarder the longest ever by a Jet at Buffalo. His three kickoff touchbacks, one of the big reasons he won the kicking job over Ross Martin, also were helpful but not enough to tip the field position edge the Jets' way.