The Jets dropped their season opener, 27-17, to the Bills after falling behind 21-0 in the first half. The early deficit could have been much larger if not for two fumbles by Bills QB Josh Allen in scoring territory. Safeties Marcus Maye and Bradley McDougald combined on the first takeaway as Maye punched out the ball from Allen's mitts in the first quarter and the loose change fell into the hands of McDougald to keep things scoreless in the opening quarter. Then the Green & White stayed in the game in the first half when cornerback Bless Austin upended Allen, who lost the ball inside the 20 and linebacker Jordan Willis recovered. The Jets were able to capitalize as QB Sam Darnold led the offense 75 yards on 10 plays that resulted in a 31-yard field goal by Sam Ficken as time expired in the second quarter to cut the Buffalo lead to 21-3.
"It was big. We preach that every day on the field -- to create turnovers, effort and get to the ball," said Maye, who led the team with 10 tackles and added 2 sacks. "That's what we do, that's what we're going to do. We're going to continue to do that. That's a positive thing that we did, but we just have to look at the film to get back at the drawing board."
The Jets defense, which ranked No. 2 against the run last season, struggled to contain Allen in the first half when he had 7 carries for 46 yards and one score. The defense clamped down and limited Allen to 11 rushing yards in the second half, but he completed 33 of his 46 passes for 312 yards and 2 TDs for a 104.6 rating. The Bills totaled 404 yards of offense, 98 coming on the ground.
"We came out in the second half way stronger than we did in the first, so we have to find a way to build on that and carry that momentum into the next game," Austin said. "We have to get back to the practice field and hone in on the details and make sure we play more consistent.
"Things were able to slow down a little bit, so we were able to take a brief intermission at halftime and go over certain things and make sure we didn't come out and make the same mistakes."
See Best Images from the Season-Opening Matchup in Buffalo
Fourth-year safety Marcus Maye was the Jets best player Sunday. In addition to his forced fumble, Maye had 2 pass defenses and was credited with his first full career sack on the Bills' opening possession in the second half. Maye and Brian Poole came off the edges with defensive back pressure and Allen never saw Maye, who took him to the ground. Paired up with Jamal Adams for the first three years of his career, Maye entered the game with a half of a sack in 38 career games. In his 39th pro contest, Maye had 2 full sacks and led the team with 10 tackles.
"There's just a lot more action,it's just different action and different spots" said Maye of lining up closer to the line of scrimmage. "You can put me anywhere, I'm going to try to do the best that I can and try to be productive. That's what I try to do every time I come on the field. Those are some things that happened today, we just have to find a way to bring everything together and come out with a win."
The Jets were penalized nine times for 95 yards, with six infractions in the first half (60 yards). Tight end Daniel Brown was flagged for an illegal block in the back on the opening kickoff, which was a harbinger for things to come. Cornerback Pierre Desir's holding penalty on third-and-goal kept the Bills' second drive alive and Allen scored on a 2-yard run on the next play. Desir was flagged for a 33-yard pass interference on the next possession that took the Bills from their own 18 to their 49-yard line. Later that drive, Tarell Basham jumped offside and Allen took advantage, connecting with RB Zack Moss for a 4-yard score the next play.
The Bills scored on three straight possessions with the aid of Jets penalties. Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams lined up offside on 3rd-and-4 and Allen hit WR John Brown on 17-yard score seven plays later to extend Buffalo's lead 21-0. The Jets offense had two infractions that happened on back-to-back plays out of a TV timeout – a delay of game and hold on Mekhi Becton.
"We had a really bad miscommunication in the huddle," head coach Adam Gase said of the delay of game. "We screwed up the call, the formation, everything got messed up. I didn't dig in too deep of who screwed up because we had to move on to the next series, but we can't have that happen."