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MONDAY BILLBOARD

Big Picture: - The picture is getting dim mer by the minute. The Bills lost their third straight Sunday, falling to the Jets, 31-13, at Giants Stadium. Suddenly, they're all alone in last place in the AFC East with a 5-6 record. Their playoff hopes are remote at best. They probably need to run the table to get in.

Play of the Game: - Chris Watson can't blame the officiating for this one. Watson roughed Jets place-kicker John Hall after Hall booted a 27-yard field goal early in the second quarter, giving New York a first down at the Bills' 4-yard line. The Jets scored a touchdown two plays later. So instead of a 6-3 lead, the Jets had a 10-3 advantage. The Bills never got closer than seven points again.

Player of the Game: - Curtis Martin. Apparently, the Jets' featured back is healthy again. Martin reminded us that he belongs among the pantheon of top NFL backs by shredding the Buffalo defense for 120 yards on 21 carries. You'd have thought the Bills' defensive linemen had never seen a draw play before.

Hit of the Day: - Jets reserve linebacker Jason Glenn jumped into the seam and buried Charlie Rogers on a second-quarter kick off return.

Game Balls: - Martin, quarterback Chad Pennington, linebacker Sam Cowart, the Jets' offensive line, defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell -- what the heck, why don't we give the whole Jets team game balls? They're imaginary, so it doesn't cost us anything.

Unsung Heroes: - Donnie Abraham and Aaron Beasley. The Jets' free agent corner backs played soft and smart on the dangerous Buffalo wideouts, conceding the short stuff and making sure they didn't give up anything deep. It worked like a charm. For the second week in a row, the Bills didn't complete a pass longer than 20 yards.

Quote of the Day: - Jets head coach Herman Edwards, on Pennington's 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down in the fourth quarter, on which he faked Eddie Robinson out badly at the five -- "I did not know he had that many moves. He looked like Elvis Presley." Robinson looked more like Elvis Costello trying to make that tackle.

Zebra Report: - Watson's gaffe was critical, but the Bills committed only five penalties for 34 yards, a great improvement over the fiasco in Kansas City. The Jets, one of the most disciplined teams in the NFL, had just one penalty for 5 yards.

More Happy Returns: - Chad Morton didn't take any to the house this time, but he had three kickoff returns for 106 yards, including a 42-yarder and a 35-yarder. He be came the first Jet since Bruce Harper in 1980 to gain more than 1,000 yards in kickoff returns in a season -- thanks largely to Buffalo. He's returned nine for 384 yards against the Bills this season, a 42.7-yard average.

Record Pace: - If you're keeping track, the Bills have now given up 317 points this season, which puts them on pace to break the team record for points allowed in a season. At their present pace, they'd give up 461 points. The record is 454 points allowed by the memorable (2-14) squad of 1984.

Small Consolation: - Bledsoe passed for 181 yards, a season's low, but he passed former Bengal great Kenny Anderson for 20th place on the NFL's career passing yardage chart with 32,865. He needs 78 yards to pass former Cowboy Troy Aikman for 19th. Not bad for a 30-year-old quarterback still in his prime.

Counting the House: - The Jets announced paid attendance of 78,745, their usual Meadowlands sellout.

Coming Attractions: - Reeling and desperate to get back to .500 and keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Bills face the division-leading Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium next Sunday at 1 p.m.

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