You knew the minute Rex Ryan blew into town with gums flapping that it was going to be an interesting year in Buffalo, win or lose. The Bills promised to be entertaining, and they certainly did not disappoint. In fact, it was may have been the only promise they fulfilled all season.
The Bills missed the playoffs for a 16th straight season, a fact established long before they finished the season with a 22-17 victory over the Jets. Buffalo finished the season with an 8-8 record, the first time in 16 years they were .500 or better in consecutive seasons. And that’s when their playoff drought began.
Sunday’s game wasn’t short on entertainment, at times for all the wrong reasons, and drama. Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions in the final quarter, his first one in the end zone to Leodis McKelvin with the Jets poised to take the lead, his last one coming when A.J. Tarpley stepped in front of his final throw with 11 seconds remaining.
The Jets needed 80 yards for a touchdown over the final 3:49 against the Buffalo defense that had given Fitz fits for most of the afternoon. Fitzpatrick was under pressure from Marcel Dareus when his wounded toss for Eric Decker fell woefully short and was picked off by Manny Lawson.
In many ways, it was just like the Jets.
New York’s effort fell woefully short before their postseason hopes were intercepted by the Bills. The Bills swept the Jets for the second straight season.
Some might be inclined to give Buffalo credit because it didn’t run for the bus Sunday. Really, anything less than an honest effort would have been unacceptable no matter the circumstances. They shouldn’t be praised for showing up. In the NFL, it’s meeting the minimum standard.
The defense does, however, deserve credit for making Fitzpatrick’s life miserable for most of the game. Fitz was playing the biggest game of his career Sunday, and he completed only five of 13 passes for 65 yards in the first two quarters. The Jets played more like a team that was looking for the offseason, not the postseason.
- Tyler Dunne's Points After: Bills 22, Jets 17
- Jerry Sullivan's hot read: Bills' inspired effort has to leave fans with a stab of regret
- Vic Carucci's hot read: If only the Bills could always play the Jets
- Bucky Gleason's hot read: Plenty of entertainment, often for all the wrong reasons
- Tim Graham's Insta-Graham: Bills finish .500 and 4-2 in AFC East; Sammy sensational; Fitz fails
- Mark Gaughan's hot read: Justice is served -- the Jets are not worthy of the playoffs
- Jay Skurski's Quarterly Report: Fitzpatrick's 'hat trick' sends Bills home winners
Sammy Watkins torched the Jets – mostly all-world corner Darrelle Revis – for 136 yards receiving on 11 catches. Watkins has 1,047 yards receiving for his first 1,000-yard season since the Bills traded up to grab him fourth overall in 2014. He turned a near drop and definite bobble into a 38-yard gain in the third quarter. It was a terrific play in an entertaining year.
Ryan was on the hot seat before Terry Pegula issued a statement last week saying his job was safe. As it turned out, one Bills fan showed up like his pants were on fire – and they were – and Buffalo played that way Sunday. Once again, it was too late. The Bills already had been eliminated from the postseason.
Amid the maddening season, you can always count on Buffalo fans to provide cheap entertainment even when the Bills do not.
Some nitwitted Bills fan tailgating figured it would be wise to plop his fanny atop a burning table in the parking lot and started his pants on fire. Deadspin, which should consider opening a satellite office in Orchard Park, helped spread the news like wildfire across Twitter.
It was almost as hilarious as EJ Manuel checking into the game fourth-and-2 at the New York 12-yard line, inducing the Jets into jumping offside and returning to the sideline for a chest bump with offensive line coach Kurt Anderson. Any why not celebrate: It was the best play Manuel made all season.
And let’s not forget Dan Carpenter’s helmet slam after he missed his sixth extra-point attempt this season. The troubled kicker returned to the sidelines and Carpenter slammed his helmet off the turf, only to have it come back and smack him in the kisser. He returned later in the half to convert, barely, a 20-yard field goal.
In case that wasn’t enough comedic value, Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman called a trick play to end the third quarter that fooled nobody. Taylor threw a lateral pass to Boobie Dixon, who threw it back to Taylor, who was looking for Watkins deep and instead was tackled for no gain.
Nobody said this team wasn’t entertaining.