STARS OF THE GAME:
it was a nightmare game for QB Chad Pennington who caused the only Jets turnovers and left the game with an injured shoulder.
5. Jets OLB Eric Barton: One of the emerging leaders on the Jets defense and by far the Jets’ best off-season acquisition so far, continues his steady play, making 13 tackles, all of which shoot chills down your spine. The ex-Raider has brought an undeniable toughness and attitude to the Jets defense. Barton continually had to fight through blocks, as he played most of the game behind DE John Abraham who seemed to be getting blown off the ball. Barton also showcased his quickness, chasing down McGahee on several occasions before he could get to the outside. Barton will hopefully get in his teammates’ ears, and try to correct the many holes that were on this defense against Buffalo.
4. Jets MLB Jonathan Vilma: One of the few bright spots on a Jets team that did not look like it was not prepared to play, Vilma tallied 15 tackles against Bullfao. Vilma showed his surprising ability to hold up at the point of attack, stuffing McGahee on 3rd and short twice. Vilma’s instincts and game savvy were also on display snuffing out a WR reverse and tackling McGahee for a loss on a "stretch play" after he let McGahee bounce the previous strech play outside after he took a poor angle to the ball. Vilma made a few mistakes as expected from a rookie, but overall, he continues to improve and establish himself as one of the up-and-coming players in the NFL.
3. The Bills’ Offensive Line: The Bills’ offensive line has certainly improved since their last clash with the Jets. They dominated a lethargic looking Jet front-four, springing McGahee for 132 yards and 157 yards total on the ground. The Bills pushed DE’s John Abraham and Shaun Ellis upfield most of the day and contained disruptive Jet DT’s Dewayne Robertson and Jason Ferguson, as McGahee continually hammered the Jets up the middle, gradually wearing out the Jets defense, and keeping the offense on the field. The offensive line, with a little help from McGahee, also did not surrender one sack to one of the NFL’s best defensive lines, allowing Bledsoe to drop back and hit his targets. On a windy day like that, it was predicted it would be a low-scoring game, a throwback games where the winner was the team who won the battle in the trenches. The Bills did that offensively, and won the game.
2. Bills’ WR Lee Evans: The Speedster out of Wisconsin, simply put, was clutch. Evans had 5 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. On 3rd and goal at the Jet 4, with 8:08 left in the 3rd quarter, and the score tied, Bledsoe threw a perfect ball towards the corner of the end zone. Evans, running a fade route, blew past Donnie Abraham and caught the ball with his fingertips, and got his two feet down for the touchdown. It was a pretty catch and changed the whole momentum of the game. Buffalo then kicked a field goal and tallied a safety as the Jets struggled to get anything going on offense. Then later in the 4th quarter, after the Jets just scored a long touchdown to make the game interesting at 22-17, Evans caught another fade route near the sideline on 3rd and 8, to seal the win for the Bills.
1. Bills’ RB Willis McGahee: The kid is the real deal. Coming off nearly a 16 month layoff due to a devastating knee injury in his last college game at the University of Miami, McGahee as tallied 350+ rushing yards in his first three games including a 37 carry 132 yard 1 TD day against a "revamped" Jets defense. I doubted the decision that the Bills had made to start McGahee because of my fond memories of Travis Henry running through the Jets defense, but I was obviously wrong. McGahee has the perfect balance of power and speed, running through the Jets time and time again with his bruising style, constantly driving Jet tacklers back after contact and pushing the pile. McGahee also showed his speed and patience, bouncing runs off-tackle, waiting for holes, and the Jets continually lost containment to the outside. Just as important, McGahee’s ability to run the football effectively stunted the Jets’ feared pass rush, giving Bledsoe time to throw all day. The Bills effective balance on offense resulted in them having long scoring drives while keeping the Jets offense off the field. If McGahee can continue to run as he did today, combined with a stout defense, the Bills will be a dangerous team the remainder of this year.
JETS BRIGHT SPOTS:
-WR Santana Moss finally had his breakout game, catching 6 balls for 157 yards including a touchdown. Moss has come under fire recently for not playing like the #1 receiver he was brought here to be and constantly being dinged. However today, Moss worked the middle of the field efficiently and made the big play, catching a 51 yards pass form Quincy carter on a perfectly ran out-and-up route after cornerback Terrence McGee fell. Now Moss has to show up on a consistent basis if the offense is going to improve.
-The offense had a solid first half, moving the ball down the field three times, scoring 10 points( would have been 13 if Doug Brien made his first field goal attempt) including an 80 yard scoring drive that resulted in a 2 yard touchdown pass to Justin McCareins. Apparently the offense forgot a football game is 60 minutes long, not 30.
-The offensive line picked up blitzes very well, giving Pennington time to throw on a consistent basis. Helping the cause was Curtis Martin, who picked up several blitzers.
JETS PROBLEM SPOTS:
-Offensive coordinator Paul Hackett was very inconsistent with his play-calling, lacking a definite game-plan on how to attack the Bills defense. Hackett looked good in certain situations for example, when Justin McCareins caught a 2 yard slant pass for a touchdown after he was isolated in a 3 WR formation, being covered only by Nate Clements. However on more occasions, Hackett’s play calling was atrocious, for example his several 3rd and 9 running plays. The lack of a viable game-plan and his poor adjustments throughout the game were major reasons of why the Jets offense struggled.
-The play of the defensive line was uninspiring to say the least. F.E.A.R (Ferguson, Ellis, Abraham, and Robertson) did not make Bledsoe very scared, applying little pressure, and getting dominated in the trenches. Both John Abraham, and the usually steady Shaun Ellis, were caught up-field on numerous occasions. Abraham was blown off the ball by Buffalo tight ends and Ellis missed a sure sack on 3rd down, allowing Bledsoe to scramble for a first-down, which resulted in a tie-breaking touchdown pass to Lee Evans. Jason Ferguson and Robertson were inconsistent, unable to get the same penetration they were able to get in past games. The Jets defense is built around the defensive line. If the front four is not getting pressure on the quarterback, the Jets’ secondary, which is average at best, can be exploited. The Jets’ defensive line is directly responsible for the play of the defense as a unit. The line did not show up to play today, and the Jets lost.
-The Jets uncharacteristically shot themselves in the foot by committing several stupid penalties and turnovers. A team known as one of the most disciplined teams in the NFL had six penalties and Pennington turned over the ball twice. One via fumble and once via interception on a bad throw.
PLAY OF THE GAME:
Leading 22-17, after the Jets had just scored a touchdown to make the game close, the Bills are faced with 3rd and 8 on their own 22 yard line with a little over 2:30 minutes left. Drew Bledsoe threw a fade route to Lee Evans down the right sideline which Evans snagged over CB Donnie Abraham. Although it’s questionable whether Evans had both feet in bounds, the Jets had no more time outs and could not challenge the catch. Game over. The completion erased all hope of a Jet comeback and sealed the upset for the Bills.
MY TWO CENTS:
QB Chad Pennington signed a huge contact this off-season, one that is given to a franchise quarterback. Pennington has played well this season, but not like the franchise quarterback I know he can become. The QB has played well when the Jets are able to run the football effectively, when he is not pressured to carry the team on his shoulders. A franchise quarterback can make the big play that can win his team the game, even when his team is not playing up to par. A Franchise quarterback covers up the football, while attempting to run for the first down. He does not fumble the ball deep in his own territory. He does not force balls to his slot receiver when teams continually double team him on 3rd downs. Pennington needs to start winning some games for his team, especially if the Jets cannot run the football, if he wants to justify the "Franchise Quarterback" label.