NEWARK, N.J. – And now, for my next feat of journalism magic, I will find a way to identify three positive performances to take away from that.
Bills fans waking up Friday morning will be disappointed that wasn't just a nightmare. Their team really did get absolutely dominated on national television Thursday night, the 34-21 final against the New York Jets not coming close to telling the whole story of what a train wreck the Bills put forth.
"This is uncharacteristic of this team to date, the way we’ve played so far," coach Sean McDermott said. "We’ve got to learn from it. We got outcoached, we got outplayed and fundamentally we weren’t very good. ... We’ve got to get better and we’ll learn from this. No excuses. Give credit to the opponent, to the Jets, they beat us straight up tonight."
Even if it might not feel like it right now, it is just one loss. The Bills reach the midway point of the season 5-3, which is ahead of most preseason expectations. Duplicate that effort over the second half, and the 17-year playoff drought will likely be over. It's understandable, though, if reading the word "playoffs" makes you bust out your best Jim Mora impression right now.
Here is a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling after Week 9:
• WR Zay Jones: The rookie finished with six catches for 53 yards and his first career touchdown. That came on seven targets, with the lone incompletion coming on an uncatchable ball. Jones' numbers likely would have been even better if he didn't suffer a knee injury in the second quarter that looked like it could have been worse than it apparently was, since he was able to return, only to get shaken up again in the second half.
"He's a warrior," quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. "He wants to be out on the field. He wants to compete. He's a confident guy. I hope the injury isn't too bad. I want him out there on the field, because I know his passing for the game and how he wants to be out there."
• P Colton Schmidt: He averaged 44.2 net yards on six punts, with no touchbacks. The Bills allowed just 13 yards on two punt returns, as Schmidt got enough hang time to allow his coverage unit time to get down the field.
• WR Deonte Thompson: Some of it came in garbage time, but for the second time in three games, Thompson was the Bills' leading receiver. He finished with seven catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.
• RB Mike Tolbert: Pretty much every time Tolbert touches the ball, you can hear the cries of "whyyyyyy???????" from fans. It's a fair question after Thursday. Tolbert carried four times for 3 yards, and grinded the offense to a halt with back-to-back carries in the second quarter from midfield that went for only a yard.
• WR Jordan Matthews: His lost fumble in the second quarter was a huge turning point. The Bills were driving toward what might have been a go-ahead touchdown or tying field goal when Matthews was hit by Juston Burris at the Jets' 31-yard line, coughing the ball up. Burris recovered the fumble with 55 seconds left in the second quarter. The Bills went on to lose the turnover battle for the first time this season.
• DE Jerry Hughes: He played 49 snaps and did not make it on the stat sheet. He also continued his maddening habit of taking dumb penalties when he was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct call in the third quarter. The pass rush registered just one sack and four quarterback hits, failing to put enough heat on Josh McCown.