Jets blow playoff shot in loss to Bills
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) The Bills spoiled the New York Jets’ playoff hopes and Buffalo coach Rex Ryan got his revenge against his former team.
Ryan’s high-priced and much-criticized defense closed the game by intercepting Ryan Fitzpatrick on each of New York’s final three possessions to secure a 22-17 win.
The Jets (10-6) were then knocked out of playoff contention when the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) beat Cleveland 28-12 shortly after the final whistle sounded in Buffalo.
New York had a five-game winning streak snapped, and Fitzpatrick ran out of his so-called ”FitzMagic” in his first visit to Orchard Park since being cut by the Bills for salary cap reasons following the 2012 season.
Fitzpatrick started the fourth quarter having his pass intended for Eric Decker in the end zone intercepted by Leodis McKelvin. Then, on the first snap following the 2-minute warning, Fitzpatrick was hit by Marcell Dareus just as got the ball off. The pass was underthrown and easily intercepted by Manny Lawson.
The game was decided when Fitzpatrick’s side-arm pass over the middle was intercepted by linebacker A.J. Tarpley with 11 seconds remaining.
Fitzpatrick finished 16 of 37 for 181 yards and touchdown passes – setting a franchise record with 31 this season – to his two favorite receivers Decker and Brandon Marshall.
After the game Fitzpatrick walked off the field and headed up the tunnel by himself.
Ryan, meanwhile, walked onto the field and raised his hands to the sky forming a ”V” for victory. The Bills swept the season series against their AFC East rivals with both wins decided by the exact same score.
It was a stunning result given the Bills (8-8) had nothing to play for after having already been eliminated from playoff contention for a 16th straight season – the NFL’s longest active drought. Buffalo’s lineup was also severely depleted by injuries.
Buffalo opened the game minus running back LeSean McCoy, tight end Charles Clay and receiver Robert Woods. Buffalo’s defense was also missing several regulars, including cornerback Stephon Gilmore and linebacker Nigel Bradham.
The Bills then lost rookie starting cornerback Ronald Darby to a groin injury in the fourth quarter. And running back Karlos Williams didn’t return after hurting a knee while scoring on a 2-yard run.
Tyrod Taylor went 18 of 28 for 182 yards passing, and also scored on an 18-yard run.
Buffalo never trailed in a game in which it opened a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.
It was a stunning collapse by a Jets team that had been rolling on both sides of the ball.
Fitzpatrick had thrown 13 touchdowns and just one interception in his previous five games.
The Jets defense held the Bills in check in allowing just 297 yards offense, but couldn’t get Buffalo off the field.
The Bills converted nine of 20 third-down opportunities and dominated the time of possession by nearly 19 minutes.
That included a fourth-quarter drive in which Buffalo marched 56 yards on 13 plays and ate up nearly seven minutes of the clock. The drive ended with Dan Carpenter hitting his third field-goal attempt from 42 yards with 3:49 remaining.
Bills defensive end Mario Williams had the team’s lone sack and was credited for two tackles in what was his final game for Buffalo. A person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press last week that Williams will be cut this offseason because of his high-priced salary and drop in performance. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills do not publicly discuss their plans involving player personnel.
Marshall led the Jets with eight catches for 126 yards, and Decker added five catches for 50 yards. The pair scored a touchdown in the same game for an NFL-record ninth time this season.
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