Brett Favre committed his weekly gaffe as Jabari Greer took an interception back for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but in the end it just wasn't enough for the Bills on a day where their offense struggled to find rhythm and turned the ball over three times in a 26-17 loss to the Jets.
"That was a real disappointing loss," said head coach Dick Jauron. "Once again we made too many errors to overcome, particularly the turnovers. They end up being huge in any game, and they were huge again in this game. It's a very somber group of players."
With the loss Buffalo fell to 5-3 on the season and 0-2 in division play. New York moved into a tie with the Bills in the division as they improved to 5-3. The Bills have now lost three of their last four games with a road date against New England next.
Down 23-10 in the fourth quarter, Greer stepped in front of an errant Favre pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown to make it a one score game (23-17). But the Jets offense put together a clock-killing eight-minute drive before tacking a 31-yard field goal on the board for a nine-point lead with less than three minutes remaining.
"It was a route that we had recognized in our preparation so they just ran it and we did a good job preparing for it and made the play," said Greer. "The defensive guys did a terrific job of turning around and blocking, but ultimately we lost the game. It was fulfilling to make a play, but at the same time the mood is somber and it's definitely not a consolation prize."
The reason why was the Jets responded with a clock-killing 14-play drive that took almost nine minutes off the clock, forced Buffalo to use all their remaining timeouts and put another three points on the board to make it a two-score game (26-17) with just over two minutes remaining.
"It was a tough situation," said Paul Posluszny who led the team with nine tackles. "We want to be able to get off the field in a situation like that and give our offense time to score and put them in position to score. With the game on the line we've got to be able to get off the field."
Buffalo's offense simply didn't have enough time to make up the deficit, but it was a day when the Bills attack didn't do much right all day. Turk Schonert's unit went 1-for-4 in the red zone and committed three turnovers, one inside their own 10-yard line and one that was returned for a score. The Bills running game was completely shut down by New York's fourth-ranked run defense gaining just 30 yards on 17 carries. Trent Edwards finished the game 24-34 for 289 yards a touchdown and an interception.
"It's tough to run that balance of attack," said Edwards. "It's tough to keep the defense guessing if we can't establish that then they obviously know we're going to pass the ball and that puts a lot of stress on our passing game."
The Jets got things started early in the game with all-purpose back Leon Washington. After returning the opening kick 40 yards to the New York 40-yard line, Washington took a screen pass on the second play from scrimmage another 40 yards deep in Bills territory. But Buffalo's defense held firm forcing two incompletions on second and third down and the Jets took a 37-yard field goal by Jay Feely for a 3-0 lead.
Buffalo responded equally as quick needing just three plays to put points on the board. Following a 42-yard catch and run by Marshawn Lynch, a pass interference penalty gave the Bills a 1st-and-goal situation at the Jets nine-yard line.
Lined up in a two tight end, two back formation, Trent Edwards used play action and found a wide open Derek Fine in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown pass and a 7-3 edge. Jets' safety Hank Poteat double covered Lee Evans on a crossing route leaving Fine alone by himself.
After the Bills defense sent the Jets three-and-out, Buffalo committed their first turnover of the game. Trent Edwards was sacked by Darrelle Revis on a corner blitz and fumbled. Revis then recovered the ball at the Bills six-yard line. Buffalo's defense however, refused to yield. After a muffed snap was recovered by the Jets on first down, Buffalo forced a pair of incompletions leading to a second field goal by Feely and a 7-6 score.
Edwards and company then put its longest drive of the half together, but could not convert on a 1st-and-goal series at the Jets' eight-yard line. Lynch lost a yard on first down, Robert Royal couldn't hold onto a pass in the flat on second down and Duke Preston committed a false start penalty on third and goal.
That set up a third-and-goal from the 14-yard line. Edwards dropped back to pass, but Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins stormed up the middle and hit the Bills' quarterback as he threw a pass intended for Roscoe Parrish. Abram Elam stepped in front of the pass and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown and a 13-7 Jets' lead.
"On that one the receiver fell," said Jauron. "The ball is in the air before the route is completed, so the ball it out of his hand. There wasn't a lot he could do on that. I think he'd be the first to say he wished he had thrown it higher."
The Bills had another opportunity to score driving all the way down to the New York eight-yard line, but on 3rd-and-1 the Jets had good coverage forcing Edwards to throw it away. Electing to go for it on 4th-and-1 Fred Jackson was unable to gain a yard as the Jets' run front stoned Buffalo forcing a turnover on downs.
"We have to be able to get a yard," said Duke Preston. "We didn't get that done and that was a big play in the game."
New York then went no huddle for most of a 15-play drive, but a big third down play tackle by Terrence McGee forced the Jets to attempt a 37-yard field goal. But Feely hooked the kick wide left to keep the score 13-7 at the half.
The Jets would add to that lead. Buffalo's defense kept New York out of the end zone again facing a 1st-and-goal situation at the Bills 10-yard line, but a 20-yard field goal made it 16-7 New York early in the third.
Buffalo's offense continued to have trouble finding rhythm, but the offense was picked up let in the third quarter when Rian Lindell was successful on a 53-yard field goal attempt to make it a one score game (16-10).
Brett Favre and the Jets offense however, would strike quickly. On the ensuing possession Jerricho Cotchery got a favorable matchup on a linebacker and Favre hit him for a 35-yard gain to set up 1st-and-goal. Thomas Jones took it in from seven yards out to put the Jets up by two scores 23-10 late in the third.