By Abe Gutierrez
Led by running back Bilal Powell, the New York Jets swept the season series over the Rex Ryan-less Buffalo Bills for the first time in 11 years. Finishing the season on a positive note, Gang Green dominated their longtime AFC East rivals to the tune of 30-10. The victory improved the Jets’ record to 5-11 on the year, while the Bills dropped to 7-9 on the 2016 NFL season.
“It was real important for us,” Todd Bowles said when asked what it meant to close out the year with a win. “We’ve got a lot of bad taste in our mouths that probably still won’t leave, but for today, and finishing the game and finishing the season the right way it was a plus.”
It was certainly a great day for the Jets offense, as everything they did seem to yield positive results. Offensively, the Jets tallied 18 first downs (11 in passing plays and 7 on rushing pays) and 329 yards of offense (202 passing yards and 127 rushing yards) despite going just 4-for-13 on third down situations.
As stated above, Powell was a catalyst for this offense, rushing for 122 yards on 22 carries and a receiving touchdown. In what could have been his last start as a Jet, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 67 percent of his passes, going 20-for-30 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions to earn a quarterback rating of 109.0.
New York’s leading receivers on the afternoon included Quincy Enunwa (five catches for 81 yards), Robby Anderson (four catches for 43 yards), Jalin Marshall (three catches for 22 yards, TD) and Bilal Powell (3 catches for 15 yards, TD).
Defensively, the Jets unit allowed 14 first downs (seven on passing plays and seven on rushing plays), 230 yards of total offense (162 passing yards and 68 rushing yards), and limited the Bills to convert on 6-for-16 on third downs.
The Jets “D” also won the turnover battle, 4-0, thanks to three fumble recoveries and an interception. Bills quarterbacks found themselves running for their lives throughout the game, and the Jets defense was credited with three sacks belonging to Muhammad Wilkerson, Deon Simon and Jordan Jenkins.
In terms of tackles, the Jets defensive standouts included David Harris (eight tackles: six solo, two assist), Sheldon Richardson (six tackles: four solo, two assist) and Darron Lee (five tackles: five total) just to name a few.
Special Teams: A
Kicker Nick Folk was absolutely perfect on the afternoon, going 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, including a long of 36 yards. He was perfect on a trio of extra points for a total of 12 points.
As usual, punter Lachlan Edwards was also on his game, as he closed out the 2016 NFL season with five punts for an average of 51 yards per boot, including two that were beautifully placed inside the Bills’ 20-yard line and a long punt of 72 yards.
Heading into Week 17, Todd Bowles’ future in the Big Apple was pretty much anyone’s guess. Earlier this week, the Jets announced that Bowles would be coming back next season, despite an atrocious season and much speculation.
“I just coach football,” Bowles said about coming back to coach the Jets next season. “I understand the abilities of the job, I’m not going to take away from the team win today.”
Up next: Decisions to be made in the upcoming offseason for Gang Green
The Jets head into the offseason with lots of uncertainty in a number of areas, particularly at the quarterback position. However, the one thing that won’t change is at the head coaching position, despite much speculation. Already having been assured he will return to coach the Jets next season, Bowles has his sights set on the future.
“A lot of things have to change,” Bowles said when asked how to avoid a letdown next season. “Every season is different, obviously. We wanna be healthy and get healthy. We gotta make plays in the fourth quarter and get off to a better start.”