It was an important division game to open a much anticipated 2012 season for the Bills, but Buffalo committed far too many mistakes and had almost no answers for a Jets team firing on all cylinders in a 48-28 rout at MetLife Stadium. The 48 points surrendered were the second-most allowed by the Bills in an opener in team history.
"It hurts. It's no fun. It's awful. All of the above," said head coach Chan Gailey. "This is a cliché I understand that, it's one of 16. If you win enough to get to the playoffs, this was a learning experience. If you don't then it was the start of something bad and that was the bottom line."
Buffalo's offense suffered from the turnover bug, committing four on the day including three Ryan Fitzpatrick interceptions, while the defense could not get off the field on third down. The Jets didn't punt until the fourth quarter, converting seven of their first nine third downs. On the two third downs where they did not convert they kicked field goals. Even special teams gave up a return for a touchdown in a very humbling opening performance to the 2012 season.
"I can't turn the ball over three times and have us expect to dig ourselves out and win," said Fitzpatrick, who finished 18-32 for 195 yards, three late touchdown passes to go with his three picks. "That's what happened today. It's unacceptable. It's embarrassing and unfortunately it happened in the first game."
The defense turned in a good play on the opening possession as Bryan Scott intercepted a tipped shovel pass by Mark Sanchez giving the offense solid field position at their own 46-yard line. Just four plays later however, a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass intended for Stevie Johnson along the left sideline was swiped by Darrelle Revis.
The Jets offense then methodically marched down the field going 61 yards on eight plays with Jeremy Kerley pulling in a 12-y
ard touchdown pass from Sanchez for a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Buffalo's offense would turn it over on their next possession when on a 2nd-and-10 from the Bills 47 Fitzpatrick's pass intended for David Nelson in the right flat was picked off by Kyle Wilson.
Sanchez and the New York offense would convert their second takeaway into points. The Jets' signal caller would toss his second touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter, hitting rookie Stephen Hill off a pump fake for a 33-yard strike and a 14-0 advantage.
"To summarize it they were running too wide open and we didn't get enough pressure on the passer," said Gailey. "We stopped the run pretty good until they ran it some late. We stopped the run for the most part. We've just got too many people running too wide open right now and we're not getting enough pressure on the passer and that's something we're going to address."
Things would go from bad to worse for the Bills, when a punt by Brian Moorman was returned 68 yards for New York's third touchdown of the first half and a 21-0 lead with less than three minutes gone in the second quarter.
On the ensuing Bills possession, Fred Jackson suffered a knee injury on a 1st-and-10 carry from the Buffalo 30-yard line. On an outside run play to the right, Jackson's leg was caught under a would-be tackler and bent awkwardly. He left the game and did not return.
"He's a guy that isn't going to stay on the ground unless something is going on," said Fitzpatrick. "I don't know what the deal is with him. I'm sure we'll get reports in the next few days, but it's tough to see him go down, he's such a tough guy."
Gailey said Jackson will undergo more tests and have his knee injury re-evaluated Monday.
Buffalo would finish the possession with their only points of the half. On a 2nd-and-10 from their own 44, C.J. Spiller took an inside hand-off, broke a pair of tackles and raced down the middle of the field to the end zone for a 56-yard scoring run (21-7). The former first-round pick was a long bright spot with 169 rushing yards on the day, but it was clouded by a subpar team performance.
"Of course it's disappointing whenever you lose a game, especially a division game," he said. "We're a much better football team than we displayed. Just the turnovers, the big one that I had with the pass, that was huge. The main thing that I told the guys that I kept preaching on the sideline is we can't let this one loss define our season."
The Jets would close out the half with a pair of field goal drives, one of which came off Buffalo's third turnover of the half, a Spiller fumble to take a 20-point lead into the locker room (27-7).
The prospects for the Bills did not improve despite having the first possession of the third quarter. After a pair of eight-yard runs by C.J. Spiller to set up 1st-and-10 at the Bills 36, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pass to the left flat intended for David Nelson, but it was behind him. Jets CB Antonio Cromartie read the play perfectly and intercepted the pass and coasted into the end zone for a 40-yard interception return to put the game away (34-7).
"It's a bad decision by me. That's what it was," said Fitzpatrick. "David had a read on a route. My job is to get the ball to David. David ran his route in the zone and I didn't throw it to him."
The Jets would add another touchdown drive with Stephen Hill taking a catch and finding the right pylon for a 17-yard scoring play to make it 41-7.
Buffalo put together a pair of touchdown drives late in the third and midway through the fourth quarter to make the score respectable (41-28). Scott Chandler and Donald Jones pulled in the touchdown passes from Fitzpatrick.
David Nelson left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury and did not return, with Gailey saying it didn't look good for the wide receiver. More will be known Monday.
New York would put the final points on the board with a one-yard Shonn Greene run with under two minutes remaining (48-28), but Buffalo's head coach was resolute in his belief that his team is capable of far better.
"We're not going to go around like the sky is falling," said Gailey. "We're not going to do that. I'm not going to do that and I'm not going to let them do that. We didn't show it (Sunday), there were some things that we did better, but overall we didn't show it. But I think we've got a chance to be a good football team before it's over with. Nobody will change my mind until we get to the end."
The Bills host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 at Ralph Wilson Stadium next Sunday for a scheduled 1 pm kickoff.