Every week this season I'll be taking a look at past match-ups between the New York Jets and their upcoming opponents. There will be two parts for each division rival, since they play twice a year. In Part One, we'll take a look at recent Jets-Bills match-ups.
The Bills lead the all-time series 55-50-0, while the Jets have outscored Buffalo 2,155-2,138.
December 27, 1981: Meeting in the AFC Wild Card Round of the playoffs, the Jets (10-6-1) were three-point favorites over the Bills (11-6). You would expect a 37-degree day (with a wind-chill of 27) in December at Shea Stadium would affect the game, but scoring was not at a premium on this day. The game could not have started worse for Gang Green as Buffalo quickly jumped on top 7-0 when Charles Romes recovered a NY fumble and returned it 26 yards. After a pair of touchdown passes by quarterback Joe Ferguson and a Nick Mike-Mayer field goal, Buffalo led the Jets 24-0 in the second quarter, completely taking the air out of a once buzzing Shea Stadium. But the Jets weren't done yet. After a Richard Todd touchdown pass and a Pat Leahy field goal, the lead was cut to 24-10 at the half. However the Jets comeback took a huge hit when Bills runningback Joe Cribbs ripped off a 45-yard run to the house. Still though, New York would not give up, facing a 31-13 deficit in the fourth quarter, as Richard Todd found Bobby Jones from 30 yards out for a touchdown. After Kevin Long rushed one in on the goal line, the lead was down to 31-27. Looking for an improbable come-from-behind victory, Bill Simpson picked off Richard Todd with 10 seconds left, clinching the first playoff win in Buffalo Bills history.
September 8, 2002: The Jets (0-0) and Bills (0-0) opened up the 2002 season at Ralph Wilson Stadium. After falling behind 10-0 to start the game, New York would rally to take a 14-10 lead on a Chad Morton 98-yard kickoff return--part of a 300 yard return day for the Jets special teams unit--and a Vinny Testaverde touchdown pass to Anthony Becht. After Curtis Martin exited the game with an injury, it would've been easy for the Jets to fold their tent, but they kept up with Buffalo, trading scores throughout the second half. It was an 18-yard pass from Testaverde to Wayne Chrebet in the fourth quarter that appeared to clinch the opening day victory, but a 29-yard touchdown pass by former Patriot Drew Bledsoe knotted the score at 31 and sent the game to overtime. On the opening kickoff of overtime, Chad Morton was back waiting. After making the catch near his own sideline, Morton cut towards midfield and after breaking a tackle near the Buffalo 30, beat Shawn Brynson in a foot race to the end zone. The Jets won the game 37-31, Chad Morton became the second player in NFL history to return a kickoff for a touchdown in overtime and the first player in NFL history to return a kickoff for a touchdown in regulation and overtime in the same game.
October 10, 2004: The undefeated Jets (3-0) looked to continue their winning streak going against the winless Bills (0-3). Favored by 6.5 points entering Sunday, New York was backing up the hype. After a scoreless first quarter, Chad Pennington gave the Jets their first points of the day with a touchdown pass to Chris Baker. After a pair of Doug Brien field goals and a dominant day from the defense, the Jets led 13-0 after three. All of a sudden, though, Drew Bledsoe woke up, throwing a touchdown pass to Mark Campbell, making it a six-point game. After getting the ball back two minutes later, Bledsoe again took Buffalo down the field, where he connected with Lee Evans on a 46-yard touchdown pass, giving the Bills a surprising 14-13 lead with 5:58 remaining. Chad Pennington responded by methodically taking the Jets 60 yards down the field, where Doug Brien would kick the go-ahead field goal with 58 seconds remaining. Bledsoe and the Bills had a chance, however, from their own 48 with two seconds left in the game. Bledsoe dropped back and heaved one towards the end zone, where it was picked off by Terrell Buckley at the goal line, giving the Jets the win and their second 4-0 start in team history. Chad Pennington went 7-8 for 51 of the 60 total yards on the Jets game-winning drive.
December 14, 2008: The Jets (8-5), losers of two straight, were in a must-win situation vs. the Bills (6-7) at Giants Stadium. After Brett Favre had come to New York and posted a surprising 8-3 record, the Jets appeared to be an emerging AFC power in 2008. New York jumped out to a 14-3 lead after Thomas Jones rushed into the end zone and Favre connected with Jericho Cotchery on an 11-yard pass. After trading scores for most of the second and third quarters, the Jets held a 24-20 lead in the final quarter. However after a Fred Jackson touchdown gave the Bills a 27-24 lead, the game was over. J.P. Losman and Buffalo had the ball right before the two-minute warning. The Jets were unable to stop the Bills two-headed rushing attack of Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch all day, but Buffalo decided to call one fateful passing play. After rolling out to his right, Losman was hit from behind by Abe Elam, who stripped the football. After the ball squirted around for what felt like an eternity, Shaun Ellis picked it up, shook off of a tackle and dove into the end zone to give the Jets a 31-27 lead they would never relinquish. New York would wind up dropping their final two games and missing the postseason, but at the time, this was a crucial and somewhat stunning comeback victory.
Coming off of a difficult loss in Foxborough, New York has a chance to get back on track with a win at home over the Bills. This isn't the same Buffalo team Jets fans are accustomed to, though, as rookie quarterback EJ Manuel has given them life after a stunning come-from-behind victory last week. With Mario Williams coming off of a 4.5 sack game, the Jets will have their work cut out for them on both offense and defense.