It’s 6 hours after my New York Jets lost to the Buffalo Bill 22-17, and I’m still going through so many different thoughts and emotions.
All week before the game, all I kept reading or hearing on TV was how the Jets would easily win and clinch their first playoffs since 2010. I was very nervous and stated as much. A team that has nothing to lose, and coached by a man that we all know gets total pleasure from “killing his previous team,” would be so dangerous. Rex Ryan demonstrated that when he beat the Jets at MetLife a month ago, going crazy on the sideline and in the press conference right after the game. Beating the Jets and keeping them from the playoffs was the goal.
The New York Jets have had an amazing season. A new coach, GM, QB (who was supposed to be the back-up), tons of free agents to integrate into new philosophies, and a coach that had to win over players from the Rex Ryan regime. After being 5-5 and things looking shaky (with an injured QB), the Jets won 5 in a row, many with last-minute heroics and victories over the rival Giants and Patriots. I felt like we already had a satisfying season with 10 wins. Then the Steelers lose in an upset to the Baltimore Ravens and give us a chance for the playoffs!
Coach Todd Bowles has kept this team on an even keel and, in most games, they minimized penalties or dumb mistakes. Today, everything just went wrong. It was a total team loss. From the opening drive against the strong wind, the Jets dropped passes–7–and, despite a beautiful 60-yard run by Chris Ivory, missed the field goal and came away with nothing. The defense just didn’t pressure Bills QB Tyrod Taylor or contain him on runs with his great speed.
When the Jets had the wind at their back in the second quarter, the defense let the Bills go on a 9-minute drive for a field goal, using up time. During the entire game, the Bills were able to convert on 3rd down and even on two 4th downs (one for a TD). When a team has to have a 300-pound defensive lineman, even if he’s a great athlete, covering WR Greg Salas, it’s tough. An edge rusher and more speed will be needed at LB in the draft. Also, it would be great to get a punt returner that could spring one or change field position. That can win an extra game.
In the second half, the Jets offense started to click. There were some beautiful connections to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Bilal Powell was missed for his blocking, catches out of backfield, and running burst. The defense forced one fumble that we turned into points. I just wish we had more solid hits and DBs challenging receivers that might have gotten more turnovers. It looked like we had 3 points for sure, but I can’t blame Fitzpatrick for throwing to Decker–it would have been a great play had the ball not been intercepted. But again the Bills marched down the field, took up precious time and got a big field goal. The Jets had one last chance and if Kenbrell Thompkins holds on to that pass as the DB goes by him, it’s a touchdown and we win – but that’s the way the whole game went.
Buffalo averages 9-10 penalties a game and only had 4 this game. It’s just totally frustrating and yet, when we were 5-5, I never though 10 wins were possible. This group of players gave me and so many NY Jet fans so many exciting moments, an offense that the Jets haven’t had in years to actually score points in the red zone, and they have been about the “team,” not about one person or a coach. It’s something to really build on.
I’m really hurting with the loss as one never knows year to year about contracts, injuries and schedule. I can’t imagine how tough the plane ride home was as they must be going over all the “what could have been”. It still doesn’t take away from a year after 4 wins and so many changes, the 10 victories, and growth of this team. So as badly as I feel, or angry, or want to cry, it’s over, and on to the draft!