FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The game film still frustrates Chan Gailey.
The New York Jets blew opportunity after opportunity on offense against the Buffalo Bills in their first meeting last month. It was a 22-17 loss that the offensive coordinator believes should have been a victory — if his group had simply executed.
“We didn’t run the ball as effectively as we needed to, we didn’t get third downs, our red zone was atrocious,” Gailey said Thursday. “I mean, it has made me upset to my stomach to watch it this week because as bad as we were, we still had a chance to win the ballgame at the end and didn’t pull it off.
“And that just is sickening.”
The Jets finished with 318 yards, went 3 of 13 on third down and 1 of 3 on fourth-down opportunities, and scored points on just one of three trips inside the Bills 20-yard line.
With a playoff berth on the line — win and they’re in — the Jets (10-5) expect a much better result this time around when they take on Rex Ryan and the Bills (7-8).
“Coming out of that game, I know there were some throws where I was making the throws or how I was making the throws, I just wasn’t pleased with the majority of my performance,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “That was just something I tried to evaluate after that game and work on the next few weeks, and try to get better at.”
Fitzpatrick was 15 of 34 for 193 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He misfired on a handful of passes, particularly to his top two receivers.
Eric Decker was targeted 11 times and finished with six catches for 85 yards and a TD, while Brandon Marshall had 10 passes thrown his way and had a season-low three receptions for 23 yards and a score.
“I think we’ve seen some progress,” Fitzpatrick said. “I just want to make sure I’m going out there and making the right decisions and making the right throw to the guys.”
The Jets entered the fourth quarter of that game trailing 22-10, but got back into it on Decker’s 31-yard TD catch midway through. On Buffalo’s next possession, New York held the Bills to a three-and-out and Jamari Lattimore recovered the ball after punter Colton Schmidt fumbled the snap. That gave the Jets the ball — and all the momentum — at the Bills 13.
Chris Ivory, who ran for 99 yards, rushed for 8 yards on first down and then lost a yard. Fitzpatrick threw a short pass to Decker, who lost another yard on the play. Gailey and coach Todd Bowles went for it on fourth-and-4 from the 7, but Fitzpatrick’s lob to backup tight end Kellen Davis fell incomplete in the end zone.
New York had one more opportunity with 24 seconds left, but Fitzpatrick’s deep pass for Kenbrell Thompkins was intercepted, ending the comeback attempt.
“I haven’t seen the film from that standpoint to know what (Ryan) did against (Fitzpatrick), or what he didn’t do against him,” Bowles said. “He’s a great defensive coordinator. He does that to everybody. It’s not just Ryan. We just have to find a way to make plays.”
The Jets lost the following week, too, falling to 5-5 on the season after a 24-17 loss at Houston. That’s when Bowles and Gailey huddled up and changed things on offense. Instead of trying to be too creative, New York went back to basics.
Run the ball. Control the clock. Limit mistakes. Be smart in the passing game.
“After that Houston game is when everything started to fall into place,” Decker said. “I don’t think we’ve had a perfect game yet, in the sense where everything is running on all cylinders. But we’re being more efficient, we’re taking care of the football and I think we understand our strengths, understand one another, and Chan’s putting us in position to succeed.”
The Jets haven’t lost since that tuneup, and Fitzpatrick is having an MVP-like stretch. During New York’s five-game winning streak, Fitzpatrick has 13 touchdowns, one interception and a 106.5 quarterback rating.
Under Gailey, the Jets’ offense has been perhaps the most dangerous the franchise has had. In addition to Fitzpatrick’s big numbers — he’s tied with Vinny Testaverde for the team record with 29 TD tosses — Marshall has set the franchise mark with 101 receptions this season, and Decker has 75 catches. The duo has combined for 24 TD receptions.
Ivory is 11 yards from his first 1,000-yard season and is just 46 behind Oakland’s Latavius Murray for the AFC rushing lead.
“Every week, it seems like the team is evolving and we’re getting better,” Decker said. “That’s the beauty of playing good at this point in the season.”
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