The Jets get pumped up for the game
The New York Jets dropped to 7-6 on the season Sunday, falling to the Buffalo Bills at the Meadowlands by a 31-13 score. New York finished -2 in the turnover differential department and Buffalo scored 14 points off those miscues to gain a split of the season series.
The Bills totaled 174 yards on the ground and were led by Willis McGahee who amassed 125 yards on just 16 attempts. It was a tale of two quarterbacks as J.P. Losman threw two touchdowns and played mistake-free ball while Chad Pennington was intercepted twice and lost a fumble after a sack. Buffalo defensive end Aaron Schobel had a tremendous game for the visitors, registering nine tackles including three sacks and a forced fumble.
"When you don't execute well in this league, you can get embarrassed," Pennington said. "That is what happened to us today."
"We gave up way too many yards in the running game, too many big plays on defense, and we turned the ball over on offense," added Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "We couldn't effectively execute the things we had hoped to execute."
During the week leading up to the game, a banged-up McGahee talked of his recent successes against the Jets. Then McGahee, the Bills' star back still nursing an ankle injury, ripped off a 57-yard scoring run to open the scoring at the Meadowlands. He has now rushed for at least 100 yards in all five of his professional starts against the Jets.
The lead wasn't long-lived though because the Jets would take advantage of an ensuing 42-yard Justin Miller kickoff return. Starting from their own 49, the Jets would eventually reach the end zone on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Chad Pennington to Laveranues Coles. Coles caught two balls on the short possession for 30 yards.
When the Bills began their fourth possession, McGahee was on the sideline with his shoulder pads off. That proved to be a turning point because backup Anthony Thomas fumbled the ball away at the Bills' 26 after a strip from safety Rashad Washington. Miller was there on the tackle and easily pounced for the game's first takeaway. The Jets would capitalize and took their first lead on a 30-yard Mike Nugent field goal with 10:58 remaining in the opening half.
Minus McGahee, the Bills appeared out of sorts and punted for a third time after Bryan Thomas racked up his seventh and a half sack of the season. But the Jets couldn't increase their lead and punted the ball back to their AFC East rivals. Momentum would soon shift as well.
Facing a 3rd and three from their own 23-yard line, the Bills decided to go long distance for the first time Sunday. Quarterback J.P. Losman pump faked to Lee Evans on a slant and both cornerback David Barrett and safety Kerry Rhodes bit hard. Then Losman lofted a spiral down to Evans who hauled it in and completed a 77-yard pitch and catch.
The Bills' big play story continued three minutes later. Immediately following the two minute warning, Pennington sailed a ball over the head of intended receiver Jerricho Cotchery. Waiting in the wings was corner Nate Clements and the star defensive back raced 58 yards untouched for a score. Nugent's second field goal of the day – a 38 yarder – cut the Bills' lead to 21- 13 at the break.
"That is one thing that I'm really frustrated about today is that I wasn't consistent like I have been the past couple of weeks to give us a chance," Pennington said.
McGahee re-entered the contest on the Bills' first possession of the second half. He carried twice for eight yards, but the Jets forced a punt. Unfortunately, the Green & White would turn the ball over a second time when they got it back. Pennington rolled right but trouble came from the backside in the form of Schobel. The Bills' veteran defensive end got around rookie left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and registered a strip-sack of Pennington. Ryan Denney recovered for the Bills, setting Losman up at the Jets' 18. Four plays later, Losman hit a wide open Robert Royal for a six-yard touchdown.
"It was a game for many reasons that started to get away from us," said veteran guard Pete Kendall. "Once that happens, it plays into their strength."
The Bills would tack on a Rian Lindell field goal early in the fourth quarter and London Fletcher-Baker sealed it, ending any hope of a comeback when he picked Pennington off. Rookie quarterback Kellen Clemens, the Jets second round selection from Oregon, took the final snaps for the home team.
"We didn't play anywhere near where we needed to play; we didn't coach anywhere near where we needed to coach against a good team," Mangini said. "You just watch the tape - Buffalo has improved significantly. They play with a great motor and you need to match that and you need to execute effectively, and we didn't."
After playing three of their past four games at home, the Jets will be on the road the next two weekends. The Green & White visit Minnesota on December 17and then Miami follows on Christmas night. Both clubs are 6-7 while the 7-6 Jets remain in the AFC playoff picture.
"We have a lot of things that need to get corrected," said safety Erik Coleman. "We are going to go in tomorrow early and watch the film and see what we need to do to get back on track. It is very frustrating and nobody is happy around here. We feel we need to win at home and we feel we need to win these key divisional games, and we didn't execute today."
Notebook: For the first time this season, the Jets sported their all green look with green pants and green jerseys… Rookie receiver Wallace Wright, playing in just his second NFL game, made his presence felt on punt coverage in the first quarter as he knocked down Roscoe Parrish for a one-yard loss… Kerry Rhodes posted seven solo stops for the Jets… Linebacker Victor Hobson was credited with two sacks of Losman…The Bills only totaled seven first downs in the first half despite gaining 213 yards. McGahee's long scoring run and the Evans bomb accounted for 134 of those yards… Buffalo was without two starters in its secondary. Both cornerback Terrence McGee, who is also one of the NFL's top kickoff return men, and rookie safety Donte Whitner missed the game with ankle and hamstring injuries respectively.* *