It's been anything but fun this season in light of how the losses have piled up far more than the wins in 2009. For the veterans across Buffalo's defensive line it's been tough to stomach, but the lack of victories hasn't kept them from grinding each week and making plays.
That was never more apparent than on Thursday night. Granted Buffalo's defensive linemen were part of a unit that again could not stop the run, a problem that has persisted longer than any Bills player would care to think about, but looking at the performance by the front four there wasn't much that they missed.
"We did do some good things in the football game," said interim head coach Perry Fewell. "The thing that was evident was we played hard, but we didn't always play smart football from a defensive standpoint. That was the most disappointing thing, we didn't play smart football. But we did do some good things especially up front."
Buffalo's starting defensive line turned in 25 tackles against the Jets with almost a quarter of them (6) going for loss in the game with three others going for no gain. They also had four of the team's five sacks in the game.
The men up front tried to set a tone early. Thomas Jones was stopped on a 2nd-and-5 on the Jets' opening possession for a one yard gain by Chris Kelsay and Kyle Williams. It helped lead to a three-and-out and a punt by New York.
On the next possession by the Jets when four consecutive plays of 10 yards or more moved the Jets into the red zone, Buffalo's down linemen stiffened. Kelsay had a tackle for no gain on Jones on a 1st-and-10 at the Bills 11-yard line with George Wilson. And Williams followed two plays later with a sack on Mark Sanchez on a 3rd-and-10 for a loss of nine to force a Jets field goal attempt.
At the end of the first quarter Marcus Stroud got in on the act with a third down stop with an assist from Ashlee Palmer in a 3rd-and-2 situation holding Shonn Greene to a one-yard gain. It forced another Jets punt.
Following a turnover by the Bills offense at their own 36-yard line, Buffalo's defense was again working with a short field behind them. But on a 2nd-and-3 from the Bills 29, Aaron Schobel and Williams combined on a tackle for loss, which ultimately led to the Jets settling for a 49-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
Williams followed on the next defensive series with a sack and forced fumble on Sanchez, though the Jets recovered.
The second half saw more plays turned in by Buffalo's veteran trench men. In the third quarter Schobel sacked Kellen Clemens on a key 3rd-and-6 play at the Bills 45 to keep the Jets out of field goal range forcing a punt.
Late in the third quarter Williams along with safety George Wilson stopped Shonn Greene for no gain on a second down carry at the Bills 37 and Schobel and Wilson followed a few plays later with a stop on 3rd-and-5 to hold New York to yet another field goal.
All told the Jets were just 1-4 when it came to scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Forcing field goals was largely the reason it was still a one score game in the waning moments.
"I thought those (stops) were huge," said Fewell. "I give our players a lot of credit because we did force field goals. The touchdown at the end of the half, however was big. If we could've prevented that one we could have gotten some momentum going into halftime."
Despite being on the field for over 35 minutes the front four continued to turn in plays in the fourth quarter.
On New York's first fourth quarter series, Kelsay sacked Clemens on first down. Kelsay and Stroud then held Jones to a one-yard gain on second down helping to force a three-and-out.
Late in the game following a Bills field goal to cut the Jets lead to six with 5:30 to play, again Buffalo's defensive line made plays.
On a 1st-and-10 at the Jets 35, Williams combined with Wilson on a tackle for no gain on Jones. Stroud, with an assist from Drayton Florence, held Jones to a one-yard gain on second down. And Schobel kept Clemens from getting around the corner on a 3rd-and-9 bootleg dropping him for a loss of one forcing another three-and-out.
As poorly as Buffalo's offense did on third down (1-11, 9%), the Jets were not much better converting just five of their 16 opportunities (31%). The Bills defensive linemen had a direct hand in five of the nine third down stops.
Williams had the most impressive performance with eight tackles including one for loss, a pair of sacks, a quarterback hit and a forced fumble. Schobel wasn't far behind with eight tackles, half of which went for loss, a sack and a quarterback hit. Kelsay had five tackles, one for loss, a sack and a hit on the quarterback while Stroud finished with four tackles.
For the players the individual numbers provide little solace in the wake of another defeat, but there's no way anyone can dispute that they're doing all they can to make a difference.