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Tim Graham’s Report Card: Bills’ grade-A formula: Pass and stop the pass

» Grading the Bills

RUNNING GAME: D

Six takeaways helped cover up the absences of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, but neither Anthony Dixon nor Bryce Brown did a thing to make us forget. Buffalo gained 2.09 yards a carry, their lowest average since November. Only 22 times in club history have they generated less per run. Dixon led the team with 22 carries for 44 yards.

PASSING GAME: A

Kyle Orton notched a career-best 142.8 passer rating and tied a personal best with four touchdown passes. He became only the seventh NFL quarterback since 1960 to have a passer rating of at least 135.0 and at least four TD passes on no more than 10 completions. Tight ends Scott Chandler and Lee Smith each had a TD.

RUN DEFENSE: D

After holding opponents at bay for 7 hours, 20 minutes and 52 seconds of game time, Buffalo’s defense surrendered its first rushing touchdown. Buffalo actually gave up three TDs on the ground plus a season-high rushing total for the second straight week. Michael Vick did the most damage on scrambles, leading New York with 69 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: A

The Bills poached six balls from the Jets, five of them in the passing game. Stephon Gilmore, Preston Brown, Aaron Williams and Da’Norris Searcy each had an interception. The Bills caused Vick to fumble twice on sacks, although the Jets recovered one of those. The Bills tallied four sacks and nine pass breakups.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-

Dan Carpenter made three field goals, including one from 53 yards, but missed an extra point for only the second time as a pro. Colton Schmidt dropped three punts inside the Jets’ 15-yard line. The kickoff coverage unit had some problems with Percy Harvin, but nothing egregious. Leodis McKelvin fumbled a late kickoff return.

COACHING: A-

Twitter was aflutter with criticisms of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s unimaginative playcalling and Buffalo’s inability to move the chains on nine of the possessions in which it could have. But listen people: Buffalo beat a division opponent on the road by 20 points.

» Grading the Jets

RUNNING GAME: B

Vick provided a spark with his legs and kept the game competitive for longer than it should’ve been. Top back Chris Ivory was limited to 3.3 yards a carry, but he scored twice. Newly acquired Percy Harvin ran four times for 28 yards. Bilal Powell tacked on some garbage yardage in the fourth quarter.

PASSING GAME: F

Geno Smith didn’t last a quarter. By the time he had thrown his third interception, he had completed two measly passes to his teammates. Vick completed only 50 percent of his throws, delivered an interception and got sacked four times. The Jets couldn’t get Harvin involved through the air, connecting three times on nine targets for 22 yards.

RUN DEFENSE: B

The Jets had little trouble stopping the Bills repeatedly up the gut. The Bills’ two longest runs went for 7 yards. One of them was an Orton scramble in the first quarter; the other was by Brown when the game was out of hand. Of the Bills’ 12 first downs, only two were on the ground.

PASS DEFENSE: D

Coverage was awful. Yards after the catch were plentiful. Buffalo averaged a gaudy 23.8 yards a reception. But New York had its moments. Outside linebackers Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace nearly decapitated Orton in the first quarter, but on the next play Orton delivered a 22-yard strike to Robert Woods in the end zone. New York had four sacks but only two pass breakups.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-

Harvin looked dangerous, but the Jets couldn’t spring him. They tried a trick kickoff return with former Bills receiver T.J. Graham lying down in the end zone and then popping up for a cross-field throw from Harvin, who got tackled on the 3. Nick Folk made a 55-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter to pull the Jets within a touchdown.

COACHING: D-

What was Rex Ryan to do? Smith was coming off an impressive performance against the Patriots on Thursday night and had extra time to prepare with Harvin as the new toy. And the offense was awful. Ryan did the right thing by inserting Vick, but it was too late.

email: tgraham@buffnews.com

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