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Bills drop one late to Jets

Posted Nov 27, 2011


A 14-14 tie at the half had the Bills in the best position to get their first win in a month. After falling behind by a touchdown in the third quarter Buffalo scored 10 straight points to take a three-point lead with just over nine minutes remaining (24-21). But the Bills couldn’t hold on as a late touchdown drive by the Jets put them up four with a minute remaining.

A last ditch effort by the Bills to find the end zone for the win came up short as three different shots to the end zone went for incomplete passes dropping the Bills into third place in the AFC East and putting New York ahead of Buffalo by a game along with the head-to-head sweep.

“We finally played better even though we didn’t play well enough with the loss,” said Ryan Fitpatrick who went 26-39 for 264 yards and three touchdowns. “It’s hard. They scored at the end there and we legitimately had three chances down there to get it in the end zone and unfortunately weren’t able to make the plays. It hurts. It hurts real bad right now. You never like to lose, but these close ones especially they usually hurt the most.”

Down 24-21, the Jets then went on a methodical drive with Mark Sanchez hitting Santonio Holmes on a broken play in the back right corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown with a minute remaining.

Prior to that the Bills put themselves up by a field goal after Dave Rayner bombed a 53-yarder through the uprights with just under 10 minutes remaining to cap a 14-play drive.

But the Bills attack could not come up with the plays when they counted most. Stevie Johnson could not hold onto a pass from Fitzpatrick on a post pattern on a 2nd-and-13 from the Jets 47 that may have gone for a touchdown. Head coach Chan Gailey revealed that the play was drawn up on the fly in the huddle.

‘Fitz put him in the open position,” said Gailey. “We had a certain route on the other side and he put him in the tight position and we had him run that double move post in there and it just got on top of Stevie. It’s not really something we’ve practiced. It was something we saw that we might have the opportunity to do on the back side of three wides. It almost worked, but it didn’t. Almost doesn’t win you games.”

“It was there I just didn’t react fast enough,” said Johnson. “I think it could’ve been a touchdown. It’s tough because we battled. All of the guys fought hard. The defense played like dogs. The offense played like dogs and I didn’t make the play again.”

Buffalo got on the board first and more importantly did so with a touchdown. Ryan Fitzpatrick and company were able to mix the run and the pass well with Fitzpatrick going 6-6 for 74 yards on the drive including a six-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson on an underneath route to put the Bills up 7-0 in the late stages of the first quarter.

The Jets would match the Bills on their next possession marching 78 yards, including 23 from Santonio Holmes on an end around to move the Jets into Buffalo territory. Mark Sanchez capped the drive when he hit a wide open Dustin Keller for a three-yard touchdown reception to tie the score (7-7) early in the second quarter.

Buffalo’s defense was doing a good job early of putting the Jets in 3rd-and-medium to 3rd-and-long situations and got stops. It eventually won the Bills a good field position edge after they sent the Jets three-and-out from their own 10.

Though the Bills could not capitalize on that possession their defense would give them another opportunity. Drayton Florence knowing he had help over the top on Holmes in coverage, dropped underneath him and picked off Sanchez’s pass over the middle.

With a 1st-and-10 situation at the Jets 20, Buffalo made quick work of the Jets defense. After Fitzpatrick scrambled for four yards on first down, he hit Scott Chandler for an 11-yard pickup to set up 1st-and-goal at the five. He then hit Stevie Johnson on a quick slant for a five-yard touchdown to go up 14-7 after the extra point late in the second quarter.

“It was a gut check and he played good,” said Gailey of Fitzpatrick. “He didn’t throw it in a crowd anywhere. He took the shots where he needed to take the shots. He threw ball control passes when he needed to throw ball control passes. I thought Stevie and he did a really good job against Revis in terms of being on the same page.”

Unfortunately Johnson was flagged for excessive celebration and it forced kicker Dave Rayner to take the ensuing kickoff from his own 20-yard line. The decision was made to squib kick it, but it accidentally hit New York up man Emanuel Cole who recovered the ball at the Bills 36-yard line.

‘They’re the number one kickoff return in the league,” said Gailey of the Jets. “They had 15 more yards to set up a return and we were going to try to squib it down there, but not let them get set up a good return. We knew we might give up a couple of yards, but we were not going to give up the big one.”

A personal foul penalty assessed to Marcell Dareus for hitting the quarterback moved the Jets down to the Buffalo 14. On 3rd-and-10 at the 14, Sanchez hit Plaxico Burress on a post pattern with the Bills secondary not playing the coverage properly. The score remained tied going to the half (14-14).

The Bills had a total of nine penalties for 85 yards in the game a season high.

“We’re definitely just killing ourselves too much, the penalties, the holding calls all that stuff,” said Kraig Urbik. “We’ve got to get a lot better than that, more disciplined.”

Buffalo could not put points on the board on their opening possession of the second half with their drive stalling at the Jets 38. New York meanwhile went to their ground game and began breaking off big chunks of yardage. Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight combined for 40 yards rushing on six carries and Dustin Keller took care of the rest with a 22-yard reception and an 18-yard touchdown catch down the seam as the tight end broke a pair of tackles on his way to the end zone to give the Jets their first lead of the game 21-14 late in the third quarter.

Buffalo made a play on special teams to tie the score. After punting the ball away following a three-and-out Jets returner Antonio Cromartie muffed the punt. Leodis McKelvin recovered at the Jets 36 and the Bills offense would strike quickly.

Ryan Fitzpatrick looked for Brad Smith deep down the right sideline. Smith reached up and over Antonio Cromartie to tip the ball up in the air, then pulled the ball in as Cromartie went to the turf and got to the end zone for a 36-yard scoring play to tie the score (21-21).

“He hasn’t had a lot of reps in terms of game reps to step in there and do what he did, he’s a big target and a smart player,” said Fitzpatrick. “The touchdown catch especially he did a great job.”

The Bills defense then forced the Jets offense three-and-out and Buffalo’s offense again put a lengthy drive together. Though the drive was halted at the New York 34-yard line, Dave Rayner came up big as his 53-yard attempt had plenty of leg and was good to give Buffalo a three-point lead (24-21) with nine minutes left.

Again the defense forced the Jets three-and-out as Sanchez and his receivers were not on the same page on a third down incompletion. But Buffalo could not pull it out in the end dropping their fourth straight.

With the loss the Bills fell below .500 for the first time this season. At 5-6 they’re now a game back of the Jets, who also swept the season series from Buffalo. Chan Gailey’s team finally returns home this coming Sunday to host the 6-4 Tennessee Titans for a 1 pm kickoff this Sunday.