2009 Week 6 - Jets vs Bills Photos
On a sluggish day in windy, cold, crummy weather on Fan Appreciation Day, the Jets' heroes looked like they were going to be Thomas Jones and the ground game. He and they are still a great story.
However, this ultimately wasn't a game for Green & White superstars. Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez threw five interceptions in the wind-tunnel Meadowlands conditions, the last one with 6:25 left in overtime right to linebacker Paul Posluszny at the Buffalo 42.
That started the Bills on their way to one last drive that ended with Rian Lindell's third field goal of the game from 47 yards out with 2:44 left in the extra session, sealing the visitors' stunning 16-13 victory over the Jets.
"It's totally my fault. I owe these guys a lot," Sanchez said. "You can't do that in this league. I'm learning that quickly. ... I've never played like this — ever. Not even close."
Jones, Braylon Edwards and the rest of Sanchez's teammates consoled their QB.
"Mark wasn't the only one to make mistakes," T.J. said. "Everyone could've played better."
This was not the kind of free football that left the fans appreciative. The loss, when a victory seemed like a good bet with the Jets building a 13-3 halftime lead and with Jones galloping to a franchise-record 210 rushing yards and the Jets to 318 on the ground for the day, is their third straight defeat and their first at home this season. It drops them to 3-3 and out of even a share of first place in the AFC East.
On top of a game that had shortcomings in all three phases, offense, defense and special teams, the Jets may have lost one of their key players for a while if not for the season. DT Kris Jenkins left the game with a left knee injury in the second quarter, which he may have gotten when DE Shaun Ellis fell into him making a tackle.
"I think it's serious," head coach Rex Ryan said, adding that the Jets won't know the severity until at least Monday at the earliest.
Equally serious is what has replaced the upbeat 3-0 start of Ryan's tenure as Jets head coach now: a grim determination to right their ship after two division losses, beginning with a traditionally difficult West Coast trip to Oakland a week from today. The Raiders beat the Jets at home in OT in Game 6 last year and stunned the Eagles at home today, 13-9.
"It's shocking," Ellis said of today's loss, "but it's done with now. We've got a 10-game season. It's what we do the next 10 games. It's tough, man, a tough loss. I thought we were ready to play and I thought we proved that at times. We just weren't consistent throughout the game and it came back to bite us in the end."
Sanchez, who rebounded from his four-turnover game at New Orleans with no turnovers and efficient play in the Monday night loss at Miami, reverted in these early winter conditions, completing 10 of 29 passes for 119 yards and the five INTs. For the record, his passer rating this day was 8.3.
Still, it seemed as if the Jets' ground game would carry the day. The elements aside, it was almost a perfect day for Jones, who got things really started with two of the most electric runs in Jets history, all in the span of five offensive plays and less than five minutes of the second quarter.
Jones' career-long 64-yard burst set up a Jay Feely 41-yard field goal that gave the Jets their first lead of the game at 6-3, then his 71-yard bolt down the left sideline gave them their 13-3 lead.
The distinctions for Jones were many for those two carries that wowed the crowd. The 64-yarder that he turned to the right through the Bills defense was the longest of his career, eclipsing his 61-yard carry for Tampa Bay in 2003, and the longest by a Jet since Adrian Murrell went 78 yards at Arizona in 1996.
Then the 71-yarder that he veered back to the left and finished with a slide on his knees across the goal line due to the horsecollar tackle by CB Terrence McGee needless to say broke his personal best and was the second-longest touchdown run in franchise history, behind Bruce Harper's 78-yard run against Atlanta in 1983. Yes, at Shea Stadium.
By the end of the third quarter, Jones had 185 rushing yards, topping his career high from 2002 by 12 yards. With 6½ minutes to play, his 9-yard carry gave him 202, joining Curtis Martin and Freeman McNeil as the only players in franchise history to rush for 200 yards in a game.
But the Bills, despite a number of key injuries coming into the game and despite losing starting QB Trent Edwards to a concussion off a second-quarter sack and desperate to avoid a 1-5 start, hung around all the way. A big part of their resilience was their ability to pick off Sanchez.
The first and fourth picks didn't hurt. The second, by S George Wilson on a floater intended for Dustin Keller, led to Lindell's second FG and a 13-6 Jets lead. The third, by backup S Jairus Byrd, pressed into duty by the injury to starter Bryan Scott, on an underthrown bomb for Braylon Edwards, set the stage for another Lee Evans Meadowlands dagger, this one a 37-yard slant pattern from Fitzpatrick, the last 30 yards coming uncontested after the catch.
CB Lito Sheppard, starting and playing for the first time in 3½ games due to his quadriceps pull, was on the coverage on that play. He left shortly after, with Dwight Lowery coming in. Sheppard said he was "a lot rusty and I still don't feel 100 percent."
The Bills almost won it as the sands of the hourglass ran out on regulation when his 46-yard try faded wide right into the wind coming out of the east end zone, sending this game to overtime.
Then Jay Feely, who hit his first two field goals to extend his streak to a franchise-record 24 straight but missed from 44 at the end of the first half, was set up to try to salt an ugly win away with a 50-yarder on the first drive of OT, into the same wind that thwarted Lindell minutes before.
But the wind this time denied holder Steve Weatherford, who bobbled James Dearth's good snap, preventing Feely from even getting a kick off.
Still the Jets had a chance to pull it out when Dwight Lowery made a beautiful interception on a Fitzpatrick pass intended for Evans. But Sanchez's fifth pick ended the Jets' next shot at a gamewinner and set up the Bills for theirs.
"By no means is it over," said linebacker Bart Scott. "There are a lot of teams having this conversation and they're 0-6 and they know realistically they can't win. We are who we are. We're a 3-3 team, .500, at the crossroads. We have to go to the West Coast and lay a tough game. We haven't earned the right to say games are easy. All games are going to be tough. We have to go out there and get it fixed."
Jones also had two catches for 17 yards, giving him 227 yards from scrimmage. Curtis Martin had 228 YFS in the snow and ice on Dec. 14, 2003, when the Jets beat Pittsburgh, 6-0. ... Leon Washington added 145 YFS (99 rushing) and 202 all-purpose yards. ... David Harris finished unofficially with a game-high 17 tackles. Harris and Marques Douglas split a sack in the second quarter on the blitz that KO'd Trent Edwards. It was the Jets' first sack in three games but their only sack of this game.
The Jets' 318 rushing yards are their most in a game 37 years and second-most in franchise history to the 333 yards they ran for at New England in 1972. It's also the second-most rushing yards by a losing team in NFL history. The most was 320 yards by the Cleveland Rams in a 14-10 loss to the Washington Redskins in 1944.
Sanchez is the first Jets QB to throw five INTs in a game since Chad Pennington threw five against the Patriots in 2003. ... The Jets' 14 penalties and 96 penalty yards are both the most in a game since they had 15 penalties for 100 yards in Game 2 of the 1996 season vs. Indianapolis. ... The Jets deactivated WRs Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) and Brad Smith (quadriceps) and activated WR Danny Woodhead.