In his first appearance with the Green & White, veteran wideout Jermaine Kearse provided some significant contributions for a new offense looking to find its way in Buffalo. He finished with seven receptions in the Jets' 21-12 loss to the Bills, tying for the second highest single-game output of his career.
"I'll watch the tape," head coach Todd Bowles said of Kearse. "I know he had some catches, but that doesn't tell the story of the whole game. You have to watch the tape and evaluate the whole performance. It just doesn't go off of big plays."
Just nine days ago, the Jets acquired Kearse and a second-round pick from the Seahawks in exchange for DL Sheldon Richardson. Kearse jumped into first-year offensive coordinator's John Morton the playbook and responded well to the crash course. In the first half against the Bills, Kearse had four receptions and 38 of the team's 85 total yards.
With the visitors struggling to find an early rhythm, veteran QB Josh McCown converted a third-and-12 by hooking up with Kearse for 18 yards over the middle. That helped set up Chandler Catanzaro's 48-yard field goal that got the Jets on the board. Unfortunately for the Jets, they didn't find much third-down success in Western New York, finishing just 4-of-14.
"We have to convert on third down. That was big. The last time I checked, we were three for 10 on third down and that's not going to win football games," he said. "We have to convert on third down and continue to do what we do. Come out next week in practice and fix our mistakes. Just go out there and compete."
On the ensuing possession, McCown again went to Kearse over the middle to keep a second scoring drive alive. An 11-yard gain out to midfield also came on third down and helped the Jets get in position for a second Catanzaro field goal — a 52-yard boot.
"I mean I don't feel too great because we lost, but this is the first time the offense has been playing together in a game," Kearse said. "So the only direction we can go is up. I felt that we had some good drives out there.
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With the Jets facing a 14-6 deficit midway through the third, Kearse moved the Jets into plus-territory with a 12-yard gain. It once again came over the middle and Kearse added one more catch on a 11-play march that culminated on McCown's 1-yard scoring plunge.
Targeted eight times in all, Kearse hauled in seven passes for 59 yards. But the Jets managed just 12 points as McCown, who completed 26 of 39, was intercepted twice in the second half. The 6'1", 209-pound didn't get the outcome he desired, but he figures to become even more of a target in the weeks ahead.
"I thought he was effective," McCown said of Kearse. "I mean, how many balls did he catch? He had a ton of balls."