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Jets eighth this year to pass go, collect 200 yards rushing

The Buffalo Bills made some dubious history Sunday.

For the eighth time this season, the Bills let an opponent rush for more than 200 yards. That ties a franchise record set back in 1978. The 2,714 rushing yards the Bills yielded this season are second only to the 3,228 yards allowed by the 1978 outfit.

"It's nothing short of horrible," Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny said of a run defense that finished last in the NFL at 169.6 yards per game. "I mean that was our problem all year long and we just never seemed to be able to get everyone on the same page in order to fix that."

The Jets in particular have enjoyed a lot of success running on the Bills. The Jets rushed for 276 yards during Sunday's 38-7 victory, just three yards more than they posted in a Week Four, 38-14 win in Buffalo. In their last four games against the Bills, the Jets have run for a whopping 1,116 yards, an average of 279 per game.

The biggest indictment of the Bills' run defense is the Jets piled up Sunday's rushing total with a third-string running back and with three offensive line starters -- including All-Pro center Nick Mangold -- pulled from the game after the first possession.

Rookie Joe McKnight became the third Jets running back and the ninth player overall to gain more than 100 yards on the Bills' defense. He finished with 158 yards on 32 carries in his first career start as the Jets rested LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, who ran for 133 and 117 yards, respectively, in the Week Four meeting with the Bills.

All-purpose star Brad Smith also did plenty of damage. A wide receiver by trade, he ran for 60 yards on five runs out of the Wildcat formation. His 40-yard gain on an option run on the Jets' first drive set the tone for another sorry showing by the Bills' run defense.

"We didn't make them work for anything," Bills coach Chan Gailey. "They could go run it and not worry about it. That mind-set gives you a whole different outlook to it when you're running the football."

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Jairus Byrd had nine interceptions in 11 games last season. It took him 16 games to get his first one this year.

Byrd made the most of it, returning the pick 37 yards for the Bills' only touchdown.

Byrd's nine interceptions in 2009 set a Bills rookie record and tied for the NFL lead. He also tied a league record with at least two interceptions in three consecutive games and set a team mark with five straight games with at least one en route to becoming the first Bills rookie to be selected to play in a Pro Bowl since running back Greg Bell in 1984.

But the interceptions have been hard to come by this season. He was wondering if he would get shut out.

"Any time you go 16 weeks, of course you start to wonder if you'll get one," Byrd said. "But it's a new year, I started it off right and hopefully I can carry this into next season and build on it."

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Ryan Fitzpatrick was designated as the Bills' third quarterback because of a knee injury that prevented him from practicing last week. The team made the decision not to play him after a brief pregame workout.

"He went out early," Gailey said. "He tried to drop back and roll and do some things, but he just couldn't go. He's been hurt off and on for a while now. And last week early in the game, he got it hit pretty good and just couldn't come back from that."

The Bills' inactives were wide receivers Donald Jones and David Nelson, offensive tackle Ed Wang, guard Colin Brown, tight end Mike Caussin, nose tackle Kellen Heard and defensive end John McCargo.

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Michael Vick is coming to Ralph Wilson Stadium as part of the Bills' 2011 schedule. Vick's contract with Philadelphia expires at the end of the season, but it is a virtual lock he'll be in an Eagles uniform again next season.

The Bills also play the rest of the NFC East, with the Washington Redskins coming to The Ralph. The Bills visit the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

The other division on the Bills' schedule is the AFC West. The Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos (possibly with Tim Tebow at quarterback) come to Buffalo, while the Bills head west to play the San Diego Chargers and will go to Kansas City to face the Chiefs for the fourth consecutive year.

Because the Bills finished last in the AFC East, they'll host the last-place team in the AFC South (Tennessee) and visit the AFC North's cellar-dwelling Cincinnati Bengals.

Of course, the Bills have two games each against AFC East rivals New England, Miami and the New York Jets.

Assuming there is no NFL lockout, the dates and times of all games won't be announced until April. The league schedule might be altered if there is a work stoppage.

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Jets quarterback Mark Brunell had his first touchdown pass in more than four years when he connected with receiver Santonio Holmes on a 17-yard score late in the first half. Brunell's last TD throw came on Nov. 5, 2006 against Dallas while playing for Washington. Jets punter Steve Weatherford tied an NFL record with his 42nd punt downed inside the 20-yard line.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com