The public-address announcer inside the Buffalo Bills’ press box was having trouble keeping up with the injury announcements Sunday.
Both the home team and the New York Jets dealt with several injuries during the visitors’ 27-23 victory.
“The way the previous game we played against them went, we knew they were going to come in with an edge,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said. “We knew it was going to be a hard-nosed football game in the cold in December. It's tough, but at the end of the day it's football. There's not a whole lot you can do about injuries. Those are going to happen.”
They started happening early for the Bills, as running back LeSean McCoy suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter and did not return. He finished the day with two carries for 1 yard.
After that, it was New York’s turn. Starting outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins suffered an ankle injury on the Jets’ first defensive play but returned. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold missed a series when he went to the locker room to have a foot injury evaluated. Running back Isaiah Crowell suffered a foot injury that limited him to two carries for 5 yards.. Receiver Quincy Enunwa also suffered an ankle injury, but was able to return.
On seemingly every play, someone else was either limping off or being attended to by trainers. Bills receivers Isaiah McKenzie and Robert Foster were both slow to get up after plays in the second quarter, but each player was able to return after sitting out a play.
On the final play of the first half, Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka got blindsided with a dirty hit by Jets defensive lineman Henry Anderson after a blocked field goal. As both teams headed to the locker room, Hauschka remained on the field as trainers examined him. He was able to return at the start of the second half, although he said the injury to his lower back and pelvis injury made it difficult to kick.
“I was doing my best just to get my foot on the ball,” he said. “It definitely stiffened up my body.”
Hauschka, who declined comment on the hit, saying he “didn’t see it,” went to the X-ray room inside New Era Field after the game. He described himself as “pretty sore.”
“I think the real test will be tomorrow when I wake up. I’ll see how it feels,” he said.
Early in the third quarter, Bills cornerback Levi Wallace went down with an ankle injury. He was replaced by Ryan Lewis, who had previously been cleared after being evaluated for a head injury. Wallace was able to return later in the third quarter.
“I think every game is physical,” he said. “Both teams really wanted to win and everybody's willing to throw their bodies around.”
The injuries didn’t end there. In the fourth quarter, running back Chris Ivory went down with a shoulder injury, and a couple plays later trainers attended to right tackle Jordan Mills. He was able to return, but Ivory did not play again. That left Marcus Murphy as the only healthy option at the position.
“The way the game went last time we played them, we knew they were going to come out to play,” Murphy said. “It's late in the season. A lot of guys have been going hard the whole season, so you can expect injuries. Me, I have to be ready for any situation. Whenever my number's called, I've just got to be ready to go. … In the back of your mind, you know you're the only guy left, so you're trying to stay as healthy as possible.”
The last injury for the Bills could potentially be the most costly. Linebacker Matt Milano had to be carted off the field with 1:22 remaining in the game when his left leg got rolled up on as he made a tackle at the goal line. Milano came into the game tied for second in the NFL with six takeaways.
2. McKenzie was able to play after being questionable for the game because of a toe injury suffered in practice Thursday. He made his presence felt early with a 15-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter that put the Bills up, 14-3.
McKenzie’s availability took on more importance after the team released wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes earlier in the week. McKenzie, Foster and Zay Jones started the game in the Bills’ three-wide set.
Foster had his second 100-yard receiving performance of the season, finishing with a team-high seven catches for 104 yards. He was targeted eight times.
“I don't see nothing positive about it,” Foster said. “I like to win, man. Stats is a non-factor to me. ... We lost. We've got to continue to grow.”
3. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll got creative in the second quarter. He called his version of the “Philly Special” in which Jones attempted a pass intended for quarterback Josh Allen.
“We got the look we wanted, honestly, and some of those are going to work and some aren’t,” McDermott said.
On the play, it looked like Jones might have been able to run for a first down.
“I saw Josh out of the corner of my eye and tried to get him a good ball to catch it,” he said. “I probably should’ve just ran it, but he looked open so I tried to give him an opportunity to make a play.”
4. An update on the Bills’ penalty situation, after coming in with 26 flags over the last two weeks. Left tackle Dion Dawkins committed a chop block on the team’s first offensive play, making it appear like it was going to be another long day. Things got better from there, though, as the Bills ultimately were penalized seven times for 47 yards. Dawkins was later called for a false start, while Foster was called for two offensive pass interference penalties. The Bills entered the game second in the league with 100 penalties.
5. The Bills continue to use Pro Bowl safety Micah Hyde as their punt returner. That’s less than ideal given his importance to the defense, but the Bills trust Hyde’s decision-making and sure hands, particularly on punts near their own end zone. Hyde showed why in the fourth quarter, when he ran up to make a fair catch. By doing that and not letting the ball bounce, the Bills started at their own 20-yard line. Letting the ball bounce in that instance could have resulted in Buffalo being pinned inside its own 10-yard line.
6. Rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds recorded his first career interception in the third quarter. That ended a drive inside the Bills’ red zone.
“I was just playing football out there. It feel in my hands. It felt good,” Edmunds said. “The overall goal is to win ball games. It would’ve felt even better with a win.”
7. The Bills participated in the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative Sunday. Twenty-four players wore customized cleats designed to raise awareness for their cause or charity of choice. Team owner Terry Pegula even participated, wearing sneakers supporting A Lending Paw, an organization that works to connect people in need with service animals. Pegula’s daughter, Jessie, volunteers for the organization.
“Everyone who knows me, knows that dogs are a big part of my family and my life,” Pegula told the team’s official website.
McDermott also wore customized sneakers designed to bring awareness of food allergies.
8. Inactive for the Bills: Quarterback Derek Anderson (concussion), tight end Jason Croom (groin), cornerback Taron Johnson (shoulder), defensive end Mike Love, wide receiver Da'Mari Scott and guards Vladimir Ducasse and Ike Boettger. Scott was added to the 53-man roster Saturday.
Story topics: Andre Holmes/ Da'Mari Scott/ Derek Anderson/ Ike Boettger/ Isaiah McKenzie/ Jason Croom/ Jessie Pegula/ Josh Allen/ Kelvin Benjamin/ LeSean McCoy/ Mike Love/ Robert Foster/ Sean McDermott/ Stephen Hauschka/ Taron Johnson/ Terry Pegula/ Tremaine Edmunds/ Vlad Ducasse/ Zay Jones