Turnovers were the story of Buffalo's lopsided loss to the Patriots in Week 16, and their performance against the Jets at the Meadowlands Sunday almost duplicated that seven turnover affair. The Bills had six turnovers and never threatened in a 38-7 loss to New York to finish the season at 4-12.
"Offensively that was an awful performance," said head coach Chan Gailey. "We couldn't protect the passer, we couldn't run it and we never got any kind of consistency at all and when you turn it over that many times your defense has no chance. We put our defense in a bind the whole day. You can't be sloppy like that and play the way that we did and expect to win football games or expect to even look good in football games."
Brian Brohm, starting in place of the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick, was under siege for most of the game. He had three interceptions in the game, but was hit on all three and also had the ball slapped from his hand for a turnover. He was sacked three times as he completed just 10 passes on 23 attempts for 106 yards.
"We were prepared for everything they threw at us," said Brohm. "We saw all of that in practice so there are really no excuses. I need to get the ball out of my hand faster when the pressure is coming to make sure that doesn't happen."
"I thought that Brian understood what was happening, I think the speed of the game because he hadn't played got him a little bit," said Gailey. "That thing comes a lot faster in the game and you have to drift and avoid and understand those little things that go into making some of those plays and we take it for granted when Fitz is in there because he does that and knows the speed of the game."
Buffalo's offense gained just 162 total net yards and managed just six first downs.
The Jets scored 17 points off turnovers, despite resting several of their starters in preparation for their Wild Card playoff game in a week. The loss for Buffalo meanwhile guaranteed a top five draft choice in April.
The Bills only bright spot came on the fourth play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Mark Brunell's intended pass for Joe McKnight was picked off by Jairus Byrd at the Jets 37. Byrd returned it for a touchdown to get the Bills on the board after falling behind 17-0 in the first half.
But it would be all the points Buffalo could muster.
Shortly after the Bills lone score, New York on a 2nd-and-4 play from their own 48, took a shot deep as Brunell hit Braylon Edwards, who got behind his defender and eluded a shoestring tackle for a 52-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach (24-7).
Again Buffalo struggled to stop the Jets ground game. Despite not having either LaDainian Tomlinson or Shonn Greene, who were both inactive, New York rushed for 150 yards by halftime and finished with 276 on the day. Jets rookie running back Joe McKnight led the way with 158 yards on 32 carries.
"We've got to get better up front and in the back of the defense," said Torell Troup. "It's not just one area on the defense. We all have to get better as a team. If we don't play as a team it'll come right around and they'll do the same thing over and over again."
For Buffalo it was the eighth time this season they surrendered over 200 rushing yards in a game matching a team record set in 1978.
"That's horrible," said Paul Posluszny. "That's nothing short of horrible. That was our problem all year long and we just never seemed to be able to get everybody on the same page to fix that. Defensively if we can't stop the run it's just going to be more of the same for us."
The first half proved to be tough sledding for Buffalo's offense. Brian Brohm made his first start of the season in place of the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick, who served as the team's third quarterback. Brohm led a promising opening drive, but it was cut short when Stevie Johnson fumbled a 34-yard reception that was recovered by the Jets at their own 11-yard line.
New York then pounded out 12 consecutive running plays en route to a 28-yard Nick Folk field goal and an early 3-0 lead. It was a sign of things to come.
The Jets would add a touchdown to their lead when Brohm was intercepted on a 3rd-and-6 pass intended for Stevie Johnson. Brohm's pass was deflected at the line and Marquis Cole leaped to pull in the popped up pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 New York lead early in the second quarter.
Late in the first half after both offenses struggled to move the chains, Mark Brunell capped an eight-play 59-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown strike to Santonio Holmes for a 17-0 halftime lead.
Levi Brown entered the game late for his first regular season appearance and went 2-3 passing for 24 yards and an interception.
The back-to-back losses were not how the Bills wanted to finish the season leaving the players with a sour taste in their mouth.
"The last two weeks, any time you end a season like we did on a two game slide where we had I think 14 turnovers that means we've got some work to do in the offseason on offense," said Fred Jackson. "We'll go watch film. That's the only thing we can do, look at ourselves and see what we've got to do to get better."