Usually, when the Super Bowl is played, and another season passes (and another non Jets trophy parade occurs), I like to take a look back on the season as a whole. How well do I remember the games? What fun did I have, how much beer did I drink? So, over the next 16 days (business days), I'm going to run through my personal ranking of every game this year from worst to first. I think this will be a good way to reminisce on the season that was before draft season really starts to pick up. The worst is going to be pretty obvious, so maybe the list will get better from here.
WORST GAME OF 2015: January 3, 2016, Jets @ Bills
Jets: 17, Bills: 22
Certainly, the least enjoyable game of the season was the final game the Jets played, as the Jets traveled to Buffalo in Week 17 with a chance to lock up a playoff spot and fell short to a Bills team missing several starters.
The 10-5 Jets had come off an exhilarating week where the Jets not only beat the hated rival New England Patriots, but also received an absolute gift in the form of a Steelers defeat to a bad Ravens team. The Jets entered Week 17 needing only a win or a Steelers loss to Cleveland to clinch a playoff spot and a likely meeting with the Bengals. They had destiny in their hands.
The 7-8 Bills were playing out the string. There were 0 implications for this game for the Bills, except to keep out the Jets. The Bills were coming off a rather irrelevant win over a bad Dallas Cowboys team where they didn't play all that well offensively. But of course, the Bills are coached by Rex Ryan, and there was no shot that Rex Ryan would let this team not give effort for a game against the team that fired him.
The game was a rather infuriating one for any Jets fan. After starting with the ball, the Jets only achieved one first down on their first three possessions. Unfortunately, at the end of the third possession, while backed up on their own 4 yard line, punting prodigy Ryan Quigley booted a 21 yard shank job out of bounds, giving the Bills the ball at the Jets 25 yard line. 3 plays later, Buffalo opened up the scoring when Tyrod Taylor scampered around the left end where Sheldon Richardson had lost contained and stretched over the pylon for an 18 yard touchdown scramble. After another Jet 3 and out, the Bills methodically marched 70 yards on their next drive through use of the run game and Sammy Watkins, and punctuated the drive with a Karlos Williams 2 yard TD plunge on 4th down. The Bills missed the PAT and it was a 13-0 game.
The next drive looked promising as Chris Ivory ripped off a 58 yard run to get all the way to the Buffalo 22, though the offense failed to get another yard and Randy Bullock missed a 40 yard FG. Sigh. But the offense got kick started next drive, which started at the 40 thanks to a Bills dumb penalty, as Fitzpatrick threw a 41 yard strike to Marshall, and connected 2 plays later with Marshall for a 17 yard TD. The Bills came back with more Watkins killing it, a bizarre Sheldon Richardson offsides penalty, and a FG on a drive that took 9 minutes off the clock, and the half time score was 16-7.
The Jets got early life in the second half after Buffalo fumbled in their own end which the Jets recovered, but Quincy Enunwa dropped a GOLDEN opportunity on a middle screen that might've gone for a touchdown, but instead it meant the Jets would kick a figgie to make is 16-10. As was par for the course all game though, the Bills would come back and respond with another long, clock burning drive, this one lasting 8 minutes, culminating in a Dan Carpenter FG to make it 19-10. Feh. Jets moved quickly though, going 11 plays and hitting Eric Decker for the 21 yard touchdown with a minute and change left in the 3rd quarter to close it to 19-17.
The 4th quarter is where the real horror show begins. After forcing a 3 and out, the Jets move all the way down to the Bills 14 yard line where Ryan Fitzpatrick would force an ill-advised pass to a covered Eric Decker in the end zone (INT #1). The Bills then took 7 minutes to march to the Jets 24 yard line, where they kicked yet another FG to make it 22-17. With time left to go, Fitzpatrick would throw a wounded duck while getting hit that fell into Manny Lawson's arms (INT #2), before ending the game and the Jets playoff hopes with a desperation heave that was picked off in the waning seconds of the game, right after Kenbrell Thompkins was unable to hold on to a miracle.
Where it all went wrong
To me, the end zone interception and subsequent drive spelled doom for this one. Fitzpatrick threw it to a guy who was clearly covered. Not only that, Eric Decker failed to beat McKelvin to the spot and win or at least cause it to be incomplete. The Jets had the opportunity to take the lead with a FG, but could not even do that.
Studs and duds
Brandon Marshall: 8 catches, 126 yards, 1 TD
Chris Ivory: 6 carries, 83 yards
David Harris: 10 tackles, 2 sacks
Snacks: 5 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 16/37, 181 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
Stevan Ridley: His entire Jet tenure was a dud (9 carries, 29 yards)
Quincy Enunwa: 1 catch, 5 yards, big time drop
Ryan Quigley: Shanked a punt
Darrelle Revis and the secondary: couldn't cover Sammy Watkins at all
The beauty is that it's all up hill from here. The way the Jets season ended was unfortunate, particularly in a year where the AFC looked to be weaker than usual. But there are 15 other football games this team played, so I'm going to do my best not to harp on this one.