ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — With a playoff berth on the line, New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick says he and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey don’t have any time to spend reminiscing about their days in Buffalo.
“We won’t sit down by a cozy fire and roast marshmallows and talk about it,” Fitzpatrick said. “After the game is over, maybe that’s a better question if we win, because I think it means a lot to the both of us.”
Nearly three years to the day since Fitzpatrick played and Gailey coached in their final games for the Bills, they have an opportunity to make their first trip back to Buffalo a memorable one in New York’s season finale Sunday.
At 10-5, the Jets need either a win or a tie to clinch their first playoff berth since 2010. New York can also clinch with a Pittsburgh loss or tie against Cleveland.
Fitzpatrick, on his fourth team in four years, has never reached the playoffs during his 11-season career.
Gailey was fired by the Bills after three losing seasons and had been out of football before joining first-year coach Todd Bowles’ staff in New York.
Together, Fitzpatrick and Gailey have rediscovered much of the chemistry they had in Buffalo, where the quarterback led a no-name group and established his nickname “FitzMagic.”
Fitzpatrick is enjoying his best season in developing a rapport with the receiving tandem of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.
Standing in the Jets’ way is AFC rival and former coach Rex Ryan.
Buffalo (7-8) is an injury-depleted team and has already extended the NFL’s longest active drought to 16 seasons.
Bills enter Eric Wood has plenty of friends, including Fitzpatrick, playing for the Jets. That doesn’t mean he has any desire to see them celebrate clinching a playoff berth at Buffalo.
“You obviously don’t want a lot of people to enjoy what you haven’t been able to,” Wood said. “If those guys were playing in the NFC, I’d probably be rooting for them. But I don’t want the Jets advancing in our home, that’s for sure.”
A number of things to look out for as the Jets attempt to end a four-game skid against Buffalo and win their sixth in a row overall:
BANGED-UP BILLS: Of the 22 players who started in Buffalo’s 22-17 win at the Jets on Nov. 12, as many as eight could be sidelined. It’s a group that includes running back LeSean McCoy (right knee), cornerback Ronald Darby (groin) and linebacker Nigel Bradham (sprained right ankle).
Buffalo’s secondary is particularly depleted with starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore (shoulder) and backup Ron Brooks (hips) on the reserve-injured list.
FOND FAREWELL: Gailey bid a brief but teary-eyed farewell after being fired by the Bills. Crediting Bills fans for their loyalty, Gailey said: “I think it will be the first place that’s ever fired me that I’ll pull for.”
Bowles wasn’t aware of what Gailey had said. With a laugh he added, “I hope not,” when asked if Gailey’s still pulling for the Bills this week.
DYNAMIC DUO: Marshall and Decker have combined to become one of the NFL’s most productive wide receiver tandems. The pair has touchdown receptions in the same game eight times this season, a league record for wide receivers on the same team, and the Jets are 7-1 this season when both Marshall and Decker catch a TD.
Marshall, who has never been to the playoffs, either, is also the first player in NFL history with six seasons of at least 100 catches. Decker has 75 receptions for 977 yards and 11 touchdowns, giving him 16 TDs, the second most of any receiver in team history in their first two seasons with the franchise, trailing only Art Powell’s 19 in 1960-61.
FITZMAGIC: Fitzpatrick is tied with Vinny Testaverde for the franchise record with 29 touchdown passes this season, a personal high for the veteran quarterback. He has also thrown for 3,724 yards, needing 284 yards passing against the Bills to surpass Joe Namath’s team record of 4,007 yards, set in 1967.
THE END FOR MARIO: Defensive end Mario Williams will play his final game for the Bills, with the team set to cut him this offseason, a person with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team does not publicly discuss its player personnel plans.
Williams has become expendable because his contract is deemed to be too expensive, and also because he has struggled to make the transition to the defensive system introduced this year by Ryan. Williams has two years left on the six-year, $100 million contract he signed in free agency in 2012.
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