By Abraham Gutierrez
What was once a promising season has ended in disappointment for the New York Jets, as a 10-6 record on the year will not be good enough for Todd Bowles to take this franchise to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. “Win or tie and you’re in,” was the scenario that faced this team heading into the season finale.
Instead, they went into Orchard Field and allowed their former head coach to stuff their chances to advance to the postseason with a disappointing, 17-22 showing. After the game, the Jets first-year head coach tried his best to out into words what happened at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“We didn’t get it done,” Bowles said after the game. “We had some chances to get some plays, [but] they made some good plays in a divisional rivalry. In a game like this, in this kind of weather field position is important, we didn’t make enough plays and they did. Gotta give them credit.”
On the offensive side of the rock, the Jets tallied 15 first downs and 300 yards of total offense, out of which, 122 came on the ground and 178 through the air. Uncharacteristically, New York got crushed in the time of possession battle, holding on to the ball for only 20 minutes and 47 seconds.
Another problem area for this team was on third down situations, where they were only able to convert on 3-of-11 opportunities. However, the deciding factor in this contest was in the turnover department, where Bowles’ squad fell short 3-1.
With the playoffs on the line, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick picked the worst time to have an off-day, as he completed just 43 percent of his passes, going 16-for-37 for 181 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 42.7.
Rushing leaders for Gang Green in the afternoon were Chris Ivory (6 rushes for 81 yards) and Stevan Ridley (9 rushes for 29 yards), while standouts in the wide receiver department consisted of the usual suspects Brandon Marshall (8 catches for 126 yards and a score) and Eric Decker (5 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown).
Even though they did not play a terrible game, the Jets defense struggled to contain the Bills offense in a number of areas. They allowed 18 first downs to Buffalo, and yielded 295 yards of total offense (113 rushing yards and 182 passing yards).
Aside from winning the turnover battle, Ryan’s bunch also did a tremendous job of controlling the rock for 39 minutes and 13 seconds, thus, keeping the Jets offense on the sidelines. The Jets defensive standouts in the season finale included David Harris (14 tackles, 2 sacks, and a pass defended), Erin Henderson (11 tackles), Damon Harrison (8 tackles), and Darrelle Revis (6 tackles and 2 passes defended).
Special Teams: C-
With the weather affecting playing conditions, field-position battle was crucial in this contest. Much like in the every other facet of the game, the Jets special teams unit struggled to deliver the goods.
Kicker Randy Bullock finished with five points on the afternoon, going 2-for-2 on extra points, but missing a crucial field goal to go 1-for-2 on the afternoon, including a long of 39 yards. Punter Ryan Quigley averaged just 40.3 yards on four boots, none of which pinned the Bills inside their own 20-yard-line.
Despite doing a great job of coaching all year long, it simply wasn’t Bowles’ day, as his predecessor clearly outcoached him and his staff this afternoon. This loss will not only sting for a while, but it will also pour on into next season as the rivalry between the Jets and Bills has now reached new heights.
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.