Report Card: Bills’ passing, rugged defense carried the day - The Buffalo News

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Report Card: Bills’ passing, rugged defense carried the day

» Grading the Bills


The Bills couldn’t get any traction. Granted, the Jets have the NFL’s best run defense. But the Bills also have two terrific runners. Fullback Frank Summers did score on a 3-yard stomp, and EJ Manuel had a pair of important first-down sneaks. But the rest was atrocious. C.J. Spiller ran 13 times for 6 yards. Fred Jackson averaged 2.8 yards a carry. The Bills ran 20 times for 27 yards in the first half.


Manuel rebounded from a disheartening performance with his best game as a pro. His 121.9 passer rating was the highest since Ryan Fitzpatrick on opening day in 2011. Manuel had more passing first downs than incompletions. He had four gains of at least 30 yards. Manuel got lucky with an underthrown heave that turned into a 34-yard T.J. Graham TD and connected with Marquise Goodwin on a 43-yard scoring strike.


The Bills were rugged for the most part, but Chris Ivory ripped off a 69-yard run in the fourth quarter. Take away that play, and the Jets ran 22 times for 65 yards. Stuffing the Jets on early downs helped the Bills limit them to only two third-down conversions, one in each half and none over the final 24 minutes.


Buffalo was dominant here. Marcell Dareus squashed Geno Smith on the opening possession, and the rookie QB probably should’ve stayed on the sideline. Smith missed one play until he was chased from the game with 12:55 to play. The Bills recorded three interceptions (Jairus Byrd had two), four sacks (Kyle Williams had two), eight QB hits and eight pass breakups.


Brian Moorman had trouble with strong winds and botched a snap. But this grade takes a hit mostly because of the penalties. Buffalo committed five on special teams. They were flagged for illegal blocks on their first two punt returns and interfered with Josh Cribbs’ attempt to field a punt. Dan Carpenter continued his impressive season by making all three of his field goals.


Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was brilliant against his old team. Pettine’s game plan was nearly perfect. Buffalo also helped itself by moving offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett from the press box to the sideline so he could work directly with Manuel. The Bills also got their act together on third downs, converting 42 percent.

» Grading the Jets


Not much to see here aside from Ivory’s 1-yard TD run in the third quarter and his long garbage-time run. Bilal Powell also had a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter. Jets had only two runs for negative yards. Considering how awful their offense was, that qualifies as a triumph.


Smith looked like he belonged back in the Big East. And the Big East doesn’t have football anymore. Smith had as many completions as Manuel had incompletions (eight). Smith lost 30 yards on sacks, threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. Smith had a 10.6 passer rating in the first half, and he somehow failed to improve it after halftime. The plus-grade is for backup Matt Simms, who was 4 of 6 for 60 yards and a TD.


Here is the only facet of the game the Jets can be proud of. Their game plan obviously was to eliminate the run and force a rookie QB to beat them. The Bills averaged 1.8 yards a carry and were tackled for losses four times. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson were monsters, combining for 18 tackles.


D Look, kids. It’s a prehistoric artifact. Archeologists call it “Eddicus Reedilis.” You knew the Jets were in trouble when they started faded safety Ed Reed three days after signing him. Dee Milliner got twisted around on Graham’s touchdown. Goodwin scorched Antonio Cromartie for a back-breaking TD in the fourth quarter. Jets defensive backs had just three pass breakups.


Nick Folk entered Sunday without a miss on 23 field-goal tries. His only attempt, a 48-yarder, squirreled right in the first quarter. Defensive lineman Leger Douzable jumped into the neutral zone on a second-quarter punt to extend a Bills touchdown drive. The Jets were flagged for an illegal kickoff formation.


Why are the Bills complaining about playing teams that are coming off a bye? The Jets are 1-4 post-bye under Rex Ryan. He’s under fire in New York for canceling offensive and defensive meetings Saturday night and taking his players to Dave & Busters at the Eastern Hills Mall instead. The Bills noticed.


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