This has been a very, very frustrating year for Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. But through it all, Ryan is at least one half away from a Jets sweep.
His injury-plagued defense has played inspired. The offense, down to a third-string running back, has 10 first downs and 153 total yards. A win at Ralph Wilson Stadium over New York would be a needed springboard into the off-season. So far, so good as the Bills lead 16-7.
A few quick thoughts...
Blitzing... is working. Players have been wanting to be cut loose all season. In the first half, Rex Ryan released the hounds often to fluster Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills defense had one of its best halves this season. Mario Williams chased down Fitz for one sack --- to which teammates hurried over to No. 94 to celebrate --- and the Bills have three hits on the QB. Some overload looks and over pressure plays made Fitzpatrick jittery early. Inside linebacker Preston Brown especially was a factor, getting to the quarterback on one incompletion. Fitzpatrick is only 5 of 13 for 65 yards.
Dan Carpenter misses again. The Bills will be taking a long, long look at their weak special teams in the off-season. The changes will probably include a new kicker, too. Dan Carpenter missed his NFL-leading sixth extra point on the season after Karlos Williams scored from two yards out to give Buffalo a 13-0 lead. After the miss, Carpenter viciously slammed his helmet to the turf on the sideline in anger. And, in a sign of the kind of season it's been, the helmet bounced back up to hit him in the face. Why not?
Marshall wakes up Jets. New York's passing game did nothing against the wind in the first quarter, before coming to life in the second. Throwing to Brandon Marshall in one-on-one coverage turned out to be a good idea. First, Marshall beat Leodis McKelvin up the left sideline for 41 yards. Then, on Mario Butler, Marshall easily got open on a post route for a 17-yard score. Butler got turned around on the route, possibly expecting a fade. Expect the Jets to keep on looking for Marshall. The Bills haven't been tilting safety help over the top on the Pro Bowler.
Williams ruled out. Karlos Williams has been an absolute draft-day steal for the Bills... when healthy. The explosive back suffered his third injury on the season in this one. Before it was a concussion and a shoulder. On Sunday, he injured his knee. The fifth-round pick headed to the locker room after his touchdown run and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Mike Gillislee took his place in the backfield, and the Bills also have Boobie Dixon if needed.
EJ Manuel Alert. On fourth and 2, we had an EJ Manuel Sighting at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The 2013 first-round pick relegated to a back-up role came into the game, motioned under center and drew the Jets offside to keep Buffalo's drive alive deep in New York territory. He pumped his fist, ran to the sideline and jumped into assistant O-Line coach Kurt Anderson. On the eventual fourth and goal from the two-yard line, Rex Ryan opted to kick and Carpenter's kick gave the Bills a 16-7 lead. The 15-play, 70-yard drive was a needed answer to the Jets' offense turning on --- it ate up 9 minutes and 16 seconds of clock.