Jets 30 - Bills 26
By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
January 1st, 2006
This was the scenario today for the Jets, who were entrenched in a plethora of scenarios which could land them the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft. The consensus is USC’s glamorous running back, Reggie Bush, would be the first player taken.
For this to happen, the head-spinning probabilities started with one common denominator: the Jets needed to lose to the Bills. That was the first piece in what would’ve been an implausible domino effect.
So the collective groan from the tri-state area after cornerback Ty Law's third interception sealed the Jets 30-26 win over Buffalo was an indicator the Jets were eliminated from the Reggie Bush sweepstakes.
The Jets finished 4-12, their worst record since the one-win debacle of 1996. All throughout this miserable season the players and coaches said they turned a blind eye toward the Draft and the fan outcry.
“That’s the fans being selfish and us being selfish by wanting to win,” LB Jonathan Vilma said. “When we’re out there we’re not just going to lay down for anybody, we’re going to fight and give it our all.”
Maybe fans – even those on this board who immediately posted complaints about the Jets win – are naďve in the eyes of Vilma and the Jets, but the true testament to this team was they didn’t quit. Expecting a team to lie down was just ludicrous.
"Last time I checked I had a saying, about a couple years ago, you play for one reason and one reason only and it never changes--you play to win,” head coach Herman Edwards said. “That’s the thing you think about, winning and nothing else. When you win it handles everything else.”
The Saints loss to the Buccaneers virtually eliminated the Jets, and even if New Orleans (3-13) pulled out a victory, the Texans would have had to upend the 49ers in San Francisco. Only then would the Jets have a slim chance to earn the tiebreaker through strength of schedule.
But by 4:05 p.m. none of it mattered. The scoreboard watching was over, and so was a dreadful season that in August was ripe with potential for a Super Bowl berth. Tomorrow the reconstruction will commence, but today no one thought about it. Everyone savored the victory.
“We’re undefeated in 2006,” said Edwards, who again refuted rumors about leaving for Kansas City after Dick Vermeil announced his retirement. “That’s all that matters.”
John Abraham’s sack-and-strip of Bills quarterback Kelly Holcomb (23-of-37 for 184 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions) with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter sealed the victory. Abraham finished with 10.5 sacks.
Ty Law, the Jets only Pro Bowler, had three interceptions to finish with a career-high 10. Those were also the most by any Jets cornerback in a season.
Rookie kicker Mike Nugent was 3-for-4 on field goals, including a career-high 49-yard attempt in the first quarter. “He has got better and better and will continue to get better,” special teams coach Mike Westoff said.
Earlier in the week, Westoff said Miller was due to break a kick for a touchdown, and his time was impeccable (depending on your perspective on the Draft). The prospects of victory were grim with 6:16 left in the fourth quarter considering the Jets gruesome fourth-quarter losses this season (please see: Jacksonville, Buffalo, San Diego, New Orleans and Miami).
“I don’t think people really understand how hard it is to go through the season we had,” quarterback Brooks Bollinger (11-for-20 for 153 yards) said, “and just continue to come back and go out and lay everything on the line.”
Kicker Rian Lindell, who was 4-for-4 on his field goal attempts, put the Bills (5-11) up 26-23 with 6:16 remaining. But Miller fielded the kick at the 5 and ran 95 yards virtually unscathed to put the Jets up for good. The sideline erupted, and for a millisecond, the misery of a lost season was lifted.
“Just green and daylight,” Miller said when asked what he saw after fielding the kickoff. “My team was blocking and laying it on the line. I saw them running with me, so it was my goal to get into the endzone.”
The Jets took over on downs on the Bills next possession capping a stellar defensive performance. Holcomb was intercepted four times, once by Mark Brown for a 33-yard touchdown return to put the Jets up 17-6 in the second quarter. The Jets led 17-13 at halftime. Their resiliency after trailing in the fourth quarter led to a much-needed win.
“I understand that this was a season that we didn’t like, but like I have said many times, it’s not a condition, it was just a season,” Edwards said. “It’s over for us. The new season will start for us, and it’s the 2006 season.”
Bye-Bye Ty. Ty Law is reportedly due an $11-million roster bonus in the offseason. The Jets are projected over the salary cap and need to restructure the contracts of Chad Pennington and Curtis Martin. Can anyone here John Abraham and his 10.5 sacks knocking down Terry Bradway’s door?
All those factors are up in the air, meaning that Law may be a goner. Law has more than once this season he is the best cornerback in the league, and his career-high 10 interceptions may validate his argument. Still, he wouldn’t comment on his status after today’s game.
“There is speculation all over the place, but we should let our agents handle that,” Law said. “It is not necessarily your performance sometimes because of the cap. The guys in the front office have a hard job to do.”
Law, though noncommittal, sounded like once he leaves the Jets facility tomorrow, he is not coming back.
“As an 11 year veteran of the League I understand these things. As far as I am concerned whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I am just glad I got an opportunity to play for Herm and Woody Johnson because they made me feel at home. I would love to continue to play here. If not, I appreciate the opportunity they gave me and it was fun playing here in New York.”
-The Jets came into the game averaging 14 points-per, and today’s 30-point output was a season-high.
-TE Doug Jolley, for whom the Jets traded a first-round pick, did not have a stellar end to a poor season. Jolley dropped a pass from QB Brooks Bollinger, had a false start and had a reception for a loss of two yards.
Shaun Ellis and Dewayne Robertson did not play. RB Cedric Houston and Ty Law were shaken up in the game, but stayed in. QB Kliff Kingsbury, WR Harry Williams Jr., Oliver Celestin, G Isaac Snell, LB Jamar Enzor were also inactive.
Tomorrow is “baggie day” at Weeb Ewbank Hall and the Jets players will be packing up for the long offseason. On Thursday, general manager Terry Bradway and coach Herm Edwards will have a season-ending wrap-up session.
Check back to Jetsinsider.com for all the latest updates this week and throughout the offseason.