Buffalo Bills Focus
Week 8 saw the Buffalo Bills travel to the desperate New York Jets in New Jersey, needing a win to firm up their shaky season and put them into a great position for the second half going into their bye. What they got was a mixed bag of good and bad, all wrapped up in a neat package to the tune of a 43-23 blowout.
The good news is the offense didn’t turn it over against a solid Jets defense and managed to score 43 points. The bad news is they couldn’t run the ball to save their lives and they squandered a few chances to get a serious lead on the Jets in the first half. The trio of Genovers in the first quarter gave the Bills starting field position on the 50, the Jets 47, and the Jets 1. Only the last possession resulted in points. I know the Jets defense is good, but to go three and out when you’re given superb field position not once, but twice is pretty pathetic. Fortunately, it didn’t matter because the Jets were just that bad this weekend. After yanking Geno Smith for Mike Vick, the Jets marched down the field to score a touchdown and make it a 7 point game. The Bills answered back with the play we’ve all been waiting for since Week 1 — almost. The bomb to Sammy Watkins was a perfect pass and Watkins took off down field, until he slowed down to start showing off and got tripped up at the five yard line. A nice 84 yard gain, but it should have been an 89 yard touchdown. Fortunately the Bills were able to score, but it’s going down as the bonehead play of the week for sure. The Bills then let the Jets crawl back into the game by halftime, making it a 24-17 game at the whistle.
The absence of the starting running backs for the Bills was game changing. I think the Jets have a good defense, but I don’t think they’d keep Spiller and Jackson bottled up all game like they did with Dixon and Brown. Again, because of turnovers, this weakness wasn’t as exposed as it might have been. A combination of a plethora of possessions starting deep in the Jets’ end and some extremely efficient football from Orton covered up some flaws that could have spoiled what ended up being a fine day for Bills fans. And Sammy did redeem himself with a very long run after a catch for 61 yards. He clearly learned his lesson from earlier, hitting second gear after his break and blowing past the Jets defenders like they weren’t moving. That’s the kind of speed he was advertised to have and the Bills hadn’t seen him break one for a score all season before then.
The Bills defense has been gouged on the ground over the last two weeks, but this week wasn’t as bad as it looked on paper. Vick got a lot of yards on the ground, almost half of the Jets’ total rushing yards and the Bills won’t face a mobile QB like that every weekend. The plus six turnover margin and the four additional sacks further cement the Bills’ defense as one of the most opportunistic in the league, while the secondary continues to get better as the season progresses. I predicted the Bills would have a top 10 defense this season and it’s looking like I’m right, so far at least.
Mike Vick’s arrival on the field so early in the game clearly caught the Bills defense off guard and he was able to make plays with his legs. The addition of Percy Harvin was felt just by his presence on the field, making Bills linebackers bite on fakes to him, allowing the Jets to get some first downs they otherwise might not have gotten. Ultimately, the Jets’ turnover tendencies coupled with the Bills’ surprising lack of turnovers decided the game. A clean game by both teams may well have result in a Jets victory, but we’ll never know that now.