ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.— This was the game the Jets had to have. A simple mathematic equation with an even simpler answer.
Defeat the Buffalo Bills with nothing to play for, and enter the 2015 postseason. Lose, and stay home for a fifth-straight year.
The Jets lost. And their season is now over.
It certainly wasn’t pretty. Actually, Sunday’s 22-17 defeat was down-right ugly. The report card? It reflects that. Here are the final grades handed out to the Jets this year.
Quarterbacks: Ryan Fitzpatrick saved his worst performance of the season for when the Jets needed him most. With the season on the line, Fitzpatrick was horrid. Yes, the weather played a factor. But still, the quarterback completed 16-of-37 passes for 181 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. All of his interceptions came in the fourth quarter, including one in the red zone with the Jets threatening to take the lead. There’s just something about Rex Ryan’s defense that drives Fitzpatrick nuts. In 11 games, he has a 2-10 record (excluding one game in which he completed just eight passes). F.
Running backs: Bilal Powell was out, which hurt the group. What was just completely puzzling was the fact the team elected to start and use Stevan Ridley over Chris Ivory. That didn’t work. Ridley finished with just 29 yards on nine carries. Ivory, meanwhile, had 81 yards rushing on six carries. Ivory was effective, he just wasn’t used. Bowles said that was the “game plan.” C.
Receivers: Brandon Marshall caught eight passes for 126 yards and a touchdown while Eric Decker added five catches for 50 yards and another score. Those two, again, were lights-out. Aside from that? Kenbrell Thompkins and Quincy Enunwa combined for one catch and five yards. Thompkins failed to hold onto a deep ball on the game’s final possession that could have, potentially, won the game. B.
Tight Ends: The Jets don’t use their tight ends. Neither Kellen Davis or Jeff Cumberland caught a pass. C.
Offensive Line: Fitzpatrick was sacked just once, and the running game did average over seven yards a carry…but the group also allowed constant pressure when they needed to hold up the most. C-.
Defensive Line: No sacks from Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson. For the most part, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor had all day in the pocket. Bills running back Karlos Williams had some success early in the game (six carries, 24 yards) before leaving with an injury. His replacement, Mike Gillislee ran 24 times for 28 yards. Too many times, though, when the Jets needed a stop, their big-money players didn’t make big-time plays. C-.
Linebackers: Not much pressure, but the linebackers were hardly the defense’s biggest problem. David Harris cleaned up well with two sacks and 14 tackles. Erin Henderson finished with 11. B.
Secondary: This grade is more directed at Darrelle Revis who played arguably his worst game of not only the season, but in a Jets uniform. The Pro Bowl cornerback was simply abused by Bills wideout Sammy Watkins. Watkins finished the game with 11 catches for 136 yards. Too many times when the Jets needed a play, their secondary let them down. If it wasn’t Revis, it was Buster Skrine or Antonio Cromartie. Greg Salas, yes ex-Jet Greg Salas, caught four passes for 41 yards, several of which resulting in first downs. F.
Special Teams: Randy Bullock missed a field goal, Ryan Quigley shanked a punt which led to a Bills touchdown, and Walt Powell had a 16-yard punt return and averaged 26 yards per return on kicks. It was bad. F.