Talk about an unmitigated disaster. The Jets had every opportunity to avoid watching their ex, Rex celebrate at MetLife Stadium, dancing on the Jets logo and sticking it to the Jets for firing him and his staff 10 months ago. The Jets had every opportunity to win this game and make a statement about the AFC wild card race, and, they let it slip by their fingers like one of the many dropped passes on Thursday night.
While 5-4 doesn't mean the Jets are eliminated. They are still very much in the thick of the AFC's wild card hunt, Thursday's 22-17 meltdown felt like an elimination game.
A week ago the Jets slipped past the Jaguars, using injuries as big excuse for a poor performance. There were no excuses this time. With the exception of not having Antonio Cromartie and Calvin Pryor, the Jets were as healthy as they could be. They simply didn't execute, and allowed the Buffalo Bills and Rex Ryan to sneak away with a win.
Where to begin with this laundry list? Start in the second quarter with New York holding a 3-0 lead. Ryan Fitzpatrick zips a pass right down the middle to Brandon Marshall and the wide receiver has the ball go right through his hands and into the waiting hands of Corey Graham. For as good a talent as Marshall is, he's had a lot of drops in big spots and this was another one. The turnover set up a Buffalo field goal, suddenly tying the game.
On the ensuing kick-off, Jets second round draft pick, Devin Smith fumbles the football at the Jets own 20-yard line. Duke Williams scooped it up and dashed into the end zone like Herman Edwards back in the day for the Eagles. It was the turning point of the game -- the air and momentum that New York had was totally sucked out. It didn't even matter that Buffalo missed the extra point, because the dye was cast.
How did Gang Green respond down 9-3? Three straight incomplete passes by Fitzpatrick, and a three-and-out. Buffalo got the football back, rumbled down field thanks to the legs of LeSean McCoy, and precise short passes by Tyrod Taylor and added another field goal to make it 12-3.
The mistakes didn't stop there. The Bill scored on their opening possession of the second half when Taylor let Karlos Williams loose down the sideline for a 26-yard touchdown pass, thanks in big part to the Jets hideous tackling. After Chris Ivory fumbled away the beginnings of the Jets opening third quarter drive, Buffalo tacked on three more to make it 22-3. It felt more like 42-3 with the way this game played out.
And to think the Jets actually had a chance. There was a small glimmer of hope in the third quarter when Fitzpatrick hit a running Brandon Marshall down the sideline for touchdown to cut the Bills lead to 22-10. Perhaps New York was setting everyone up for a Miracle of the Meadowlands II, and would steal this game away from their old head coach.
Remind me to be smarter than that.
What followed was some of the worst play calling the Jets have had in years. Twice the Jets had a chance to do the right thing, play some smart football and didn't do it. Late in the third quarter, Fitzpatrick and Chris Ivory had the Jets moving deep into Bills territory. Facing a third and two at Buffalo 20, Fitzpatrick threw short to Eric Decker who dropped the football. One of the many key drops on the night for New York.
At this point, logic would dictate to kick the field goal and make it a nine-point game, but, instead the Jets go for it on fourth and two with Fitzpatrick dumping it off to Brandon Marshall on a screen pass two years behind the line of scrimmage. Marshall was quickly tackled and the Jets turned it over on downs.
Later, with the score 22-17, the Jets get a huge break when the Bills botch the snap to the punter, giving the Jets the football at the Bills own 13. After Ivory pushed his way for eight yards to the Buffalo five yard, the Jets once again went into shell. Fitzpatrick, again, goes to Decker short and gets no where on third down. With 3:20 to go in the game, the Jets easily could have kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to just two points.
However, Todd Bowles and Chan Gailey gambled, went for it on fourth down and the Jets blew it. For whatever reason they called a play where third string tight end Kellen Davis would be on the receiving end of a back-corner fade, but the tight end never saw the ball coming his way as it sailed over his head. Turnover on downs.
The Bills would go on and run away with this one and Rex Ryan got his revenge. Ryan spent a week downplaying the significance of this game, but by the loos of this footage, one can tell this meant a lot to him. Stay classy, Rex.
Perhaps Rex shouldn't be celebrating like he won the Super Bowl, even though it's understandable since this win came against a team he poured his heart into for six years. Keep in mind these two teams will see each other again in Week 17. Perhaps a playoff spot will still be on the line.
As for Gang Green, they have a lot of issues. Not only was their play-calling and execution bad, but their tackling was poor once again, and they dropped way too many makable catches. The Jets have 10 days to fix it, in preparation for the Houston Texans on November 22.