Any illusions that might have existed about the competitiveness of the Buffalo Bills' football team were wiped away Sunday against the New York Jets.
The Bills put a wrap on another dismal season with their second straight 31-point defeat.
Couple last week's 34-3 loss to New England with the 38-7 whipping at the hands of the Jets, and the conclusion is inescapable: The Bills are buried so far in the basement of the AFC East it's hard to see to the top.
"Those two teams are where it starts in the division," admitted safety Jairus Byrd. "Our progress is judged on that."
"I don't really know where we go from here," said linebacker Paul Posluszny. "Let's be honest. We're playing against a playoff team's second team. They didn't start some of their starters, they take their starting quarterback out [early], and we still played poor."
The Bills (4-12) finished with their worst record since 2001.
Buffalo will have the third pick in the NFL draft in April, its highest draft standing since 1985 when it picked first overall. Carolina (2-14) will pick first. Denver (4-12) will have the second pick because it played the easiest schedule of the 4-12 teams. Buffalo will pick ahead of Cincinnati (4-12). Bills foes went 148-108. Bengals foes went 149-107.
That was perhaps the only positive outcome of Sunday's game for the Bills, who could have dropped as far as ninth in the draft with a win.
Instead, a forgettable season came to a close with a game reminiscent of some of the ugliest run-for-the-bus showings of the "bad old Bills" of the 1970s and early '80s.
New York kept a bunch of its starters on the bench and played starting quarterback Mark Sanchez for only one series. Nevertheless, the Jets showed for the fourth straight meeting they are too tough for Buffalo on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Ugly numbers from Sunday:
*The Jets rushed for 276 yards, even though their top two running backs sat out.
*In two games this year, New York got 549 rushing yards on Buffalo. Counting last year's two meetings, the Jets have averaged 279 rushing yards a game on the Bills.
*With Brian Brohm subbing for injured Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, the Bills managed just six first downs, the third lowest in team history and the worst total in 31 years.
Ugly numbers for the season:
*The Bills allowed 425 points (26.5 a game), the second worst total in their history.
*The Bills allowed 169 rushing yards a game, worst in the league this season and second worst in team history.
*The Bills allowed 361 total yards a game, third worst in team history.
*The Bills finished with a minus-17 turnover margin, worst in the NFL this season and worst by a Buffalo team in 13 years.
Brohm, the third-year pro making his second NFL start, did nothing to enhance his chances at holding onto the No. 2 QB job for next season.
He completed 10 of 23 passes for just 106 yards and threw three interceptions. His passer rating was 17.9.
In fairness, Brohm had little time to throw. The Jets overwhelmed the Bills' pass-protection schemes with blitzes, overloading one side of the line of scrimmage and wreaking havoc in the backfield.
"Offensively that was an awful performance," coach Chan Gailey said. "We couldn't protect the passer, we couldn't run it and we never got any kind of consistency at all. When you turn it over that many times your defense has no chance."
The Bills ran only two plays in Jets territory.
"I think the speed of the game, because he hadn't played, I think that got him a little bit," Gailey said of Brohm. "That thing comes a lot faster in the game, and you have to drift and avoid and understand those little things that go into making some of those plays. And we take it for granted when Fitz is in there, because he does that and he knows the speed of the game. I think it would have been different if Brian had a lot more experience. I think he would have been able to handle some of that stuff a little better. But he knew what he was doing. It wasn't like he didn't know what he was doing."
"First off, we were prepared for everything they threw at us today," Brohm said. "We saw that all in practice, so there's really no excuses. I need to do a better job of getting the ball out of my hand faster when I know the pressure's coming and make sure that stuff doesn't happen."
The Jets took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter when linebacker Calvin Pace came unblocked at Brohm and hit his arm as he threw. The ball blooped into the air, was intercepted by Marquice Cole and returned 35 yards for a touchdown.
Jairus Byrd got the only score for the Bills, returning an interception of a Mark Brunell pass 37 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. But New York came back midway through the third quarter with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Brunell to Braylon Edwards to take a 24-7 lead. Edwards beat cornerback Leodis McKelvin down the left sideline, and Byrd was a step late in preventing the catch.
"He got in between us and we had him doubled," Gailey said. "We were running the safety over the top and had a guy underneath and they made the play and we didn't. We should and we didn't."
It will be another long offseason for the Bills.
"What stings right now is the way we performed the last two weeks," said running back Fred Jackson.