It may sound like a broken record to some, but the Jets defense again played a very good game in a very difficult loss.
But while the vinyl disc may be broken, the defense and the team say they definitely are not following the Jets' 20-12 loss to the Bills and their potent but, on Sunday, frequently stymied offense.
"It was a very physical game, football weather, everything was going on," LB C.J. Mosley said. "But the fight we brought, not giving up, all that good stuff, at the end of the day you've just got to appreciate the people you play with when you get in these types of situations. You've just got to go out there and try to play the best for your brother."
"There's no quit in us," DL Sheldon Rankins said. "As long as there's time left on the clock, we believe we have a chance."
The unit wasn't perfect, for instance giving up all four of Buffalo's scoring drives consecutively from the end of the second quarter until early in the fourth. The touchdown drives went for 70 and 75 yards. And the 75-yarder, which featured the home side's longest play of the day, a 32-yard completion from Josh Allen to WR Stefon Diggs, put the Bills back in control at 14-7 midway through the third quarter.
"Anytime you give up an explosive on a drive, it kind of clouds what I thought was a really, really good day for the defense," head coach Robert Saleh said. "They stood up in sudden-change opportunities, held 'em to field goals when we turned the ball over, they were 15 percent on third down. I thought they did a really good job against a really explosive offense."
And again, the Jets had no turnovers and have posted only one takeaway in the last four games
Yet their achievements in this rematch with the AFC East leader that they beat at home five weeks ago were impressive:
■ They held that dangerous offense, which entering the week was second in the NFL in yards, third in net passing yards and tied for third in scoring and first in third-down offense, to 232 total yards, 130 passing yards and 20 points, all well under their per-game averages. Diggs, even with his "explosive," had just three catches for 37 yards.
■ Particularly noteworthy was their holding Buffalo, No. 1 in the league in third-down conversion rate, to 2-of-13, which included 0-for-their-last-8.
■ Hand-in-hand with their third-down dominance, the Jets forced the Bills into six 3-and-outs — the most the Bills have suffered all year and the most the Jets defense have recorded all year. And the total even included two Jets points when rookie Jermaine Johnson strode through a gap to block Sam Martin's end zone punt over the end line and give the visitors just a little window of opportunity to try to work their fourth-quarter magic.
Another play that won't go on the plus side of the ledger was Mosley's flying through the air to try to stop what looked like Allen's fourth-and-a-foot go-for-it play from their 39 on their first TD drive. The call was encroachment on Mosley and the Bills continued to Allen's 24-yard scoring pass to TE Dawson Knox.
"I tried to channel my inner Troy Polamalu," Mosley told Jets play-by-play announcer Bob Wischusen. "That was a quarterback sneak look that, this year more than any, a lot of teams like the motion receiver, the tight end, anybody else to do a sneak. I just took a shot when I thought I had one. If it worked out, it would've been the best play ever. But it just didn't."
See the best images from the Week 14 matchup between the Jets and Bills in Buffalo.
That's the agony of games like this, on the road, in the gamelong precipitation, trying to make up for missing one of your stars — DL Quinnen Williams had two sacks of Allen before leaving midway in the second quarter with a non-contact calf injury, although Saleh said Q's injury is day-to-day — and doing a creditable job of keeping your team in the hunt until, well, the hunt was over at 0:00.
"I really feel like we played good football on all sides of the ball," Mosley said. "But the biggest thing for us: Once again, nobody was on the sideline, head down, worrying, thinking it's over. Especially on the defensive side, when it was 20-7, before the punt block, we were saying, 'Hey, there's a lot of football left."
"I think you look at the second half," Rankins said, "look at the stops we were able to come up with and get the ball back in the offense's hands — you can build off that, you can be happy about that. And you understand going forward, playing a talented team like Detroit, they can put a lot of points on the board and we're going to need those stops."