The Jets are 5-3 and now in a first place tie in the AFC East as a result of a 27-11 triumph of the Bills today in Orchard Park. A few mistakes in the first half and a late garbage time touchdown from the Bills made the score closer than the game felt to anybody watching. The Jets may have struggled out of the bye in Rex Ryan's first two seasons, but they delivered a complete effort today. This was viewed as a marquee matchup, but it ended up a mismatch.
More after the jump.The Good:
Sione Pouha: Some late runs when the game was out of hand made Buffalo's rushing totals look better than they really were. Pouha needed to step up today. Mike Devito was out. The Bills spread the field, which meant a lot of small lineups with extra defensive backs. It was up to Pouha to dominate the point of attack to stop the run. That is what he did all day long. He led the Jets with 7 tackles. He also forced a big fumble in the second half.
David Harris: Harris' 5 tackles do not look impressive until you consider the Jets so dominated the game that the Bills only had the ball for 22 minutes. The interception was also nice.
Calvin Pace: Pace was good against the run and had an interception. He also made the smart move not lateraling the football on the return.
Muhammad Wilkerson: He was winning his assignment regularly to tie up blockers and free others up to make plays. He also registered a tackle for a loss.
Ropati Pitoitua/Marcus Dixon: They saw expanded time due to the injuries to Devito and Kenrick Ellis. They played well.
Bart Scott: He blew a tackle early, but his fourth down stop in the fourth quarter snuffed out Buffalo's last chance.
Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie/Kyle Wilson/Donald Strickland: Yes, Revis allowed three completions, including one where he was legitimately burned deep. You know what, though? These guys were plastered on their receivers all day long. Ryan Fitzpatrick had nowhere to go with the ball for most of the game. He became so flustered by the coverage that he started forcing balls. Wilson made some key tackles to limit gains. Strickland was good in run support.
Eric Smith: This was an ideal game for Smith. The Bills are not a team with a ton of burners he will have to face. They want to get the ball out quickly and let their receivers make plays. It comes down to fundamentals like tackling where Smith excels. He played very well with 3 tackles and solid coverage.
Jim Leonhard: Recovered a fumble, did good job as a blitzer, and made some nice tackles.
Joe McKnight: Every week he has a big return. This week's opened the second half and went for 59 yards.
T.J. Conley: The punt he hit inside the five preserved New York's edge in field position and set up a score after a three and out gave the Jets a short field.
Nick Folk: He missed a kick from 50 yards. He made another from 50 and still another from 49. That is a pretty good ratio on some very difficult field goal attempts.
Mark Sanchez: I understand there were two terrible turnovers, but he also hit 71% of his passes and averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. He was also very good with audibles, notably checking to a run on an early third down when he saw the linebackers were going to drop into coverage. Mark made a number of big plays down the field throughout the game.
Plaxico Burress: He is starting to look really sharp coming out of his breaks. He and Sanchez seem to be developing a sense of timing. It also helps that Sanchez is starting to figure out Plaxico's size makes him a human mismatch and likely to win any ball in the air. He led the Jets with 5 catches for 79 yards.
Dustin Keller: We will get to that ridiculous leap later, but Keller was a matchup problem for the Bills. The Jets were able to isolate him on linebackers when he was in, and Dustin responded with 4 catches for 64 yards.
Santonio Holmes: Only 3 catches for 29 yards, but that includes a great touchdown grab. It does not include the two pass interference penalties he drew to set up touchdowns. Somebody needs to come up with an advanced stats that combines reception yardage with yardage from penalties. Holmes' season would look better with that than his regular numbers do.
Shonn Greene: Shonn was better than his 19 carry for 76 yard line looks. The big run wiped out by a possibly needless hold would have made things look differently. Greene was effective, though. He grinded out yardage after contact, and even some of his short runs were successful given down and distance. More significantly, he was reading his blocks better. This was probably the best vision I have seen from him all year.
Jeremy Kerley: He was pesky again as a receiver with 4 catches for 23 yards and an early first down grab on a third down.
LaDainian Tomlinson: He broke a nice run, had a touchdown in a goal line situation, and was effective as a receiver with 3 catches for 30 yards.
John Conner: He was effective as a lead blocker and had two runs. One picked up a first down. The other was a touchdown.
Offensive Line: The Jets looked down field a lot in the passing game with a lot of long developing routes. The Bills only registered one sack, and Sanchez seldom was under duress. They also did a great job opening big holes for Greene in the run game.
Aaron Maybin: He got pressure on both Ryan Fitzpatrick interceptions, drew a hold, and won his matchups a few other times. He had a nice return to Buffalo.
Sanchez's Turnovers: With the defense the Jets have, they can survive Sanchez mistakes so this helps Mark falling in this section alone. The turnovers were brutal, though. I am still trying to figure out what he was thinking on the red zone interception. He was clearly looking at Dustin Keller. He was either trying to force a ball to a heavily covered Keller and missed absurdly high or saw Keller was covered, was trying to throw it out of the end zone, and aimed too low. Either way it was terrible. The second one appeared to be a result of him just taking his eye off the ball in a shotgun snap.
Keller's Leap: This defies description. Why expose yourself to serious injury by making a dangerous leap for yardage that would not have even been the difference between a first down? It was early in the game no less. The real kicker is that he had already stepped out of bounds.
Matthew Mulligan: Mulligan is a lot like Ben Hartsock. He does not add much as a receiver. What he does well run blocking is not obvious so the only time you hear his name is when he does something bad. The hold was really bad. This is because it might have been unnecessary. Greene was cutting away from him.
Jeremy Kerley on Punt Returns: He fumbled one early that could have been disaster and bobbled another one later.
The Jets now head home for a huge game against the reeling Patriots. A win gives them the inside track to the division title as New York will likely be favored in every game after that.