ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Here are my five takes from the New York Jets’ 22-16 overtime loss against the New York Jets Monday night at MetLife Stadium:
1. What was hyped as the most highly anticipated game of the NFL season lived up to the hype … but not in the way anyone expected.
There were crazy ebbs and flows, beginning with the quick turn from being epic to yet another game between the teams where the Bills struggled against the Jets’ defense and the Jets struggled with inept quarterbacking.
That wasn’t what the NFL or ESPN or the Jets were anticipating, of course. This was supposed to have been the launch of a new dawn for the woe begotten Jets. This was supposed to have been the start of the Aaron Rodgers Era for Gang Green.
Instead, it ended up being just more of the same for the Jets. That’s because, on the home team’s first series, on its fourth play, Rodgers suffered what Jets coach Robert Saleh later said he feared is a torn Achilles. Rodgers sustained the injury while being sacked by Leonard Floyd for a 10-yard loss. Rodgers exited the game and was replaced by Zach Wilson, who has been such a disappointment since the Jets made him the second overall pick of the draft they acquired Rodgers from Green Bay.
So much for the hype. Assuming Rodgers is out for the rest of the season, it could end up being a 13th consecutive season out of the playoffs for the Jets. For now, though, they share the AFC East lead with the 1-0 Miami Dolphins, while the Bills and Patriots are 0-1.
That happened because Josh Allen – whose turnovers continue to be a major blemish on his otherwise impressive play – was terrible, accounting for all four of the Bills’ turnovers in one of the worst games of his career. That happened because the Bills’ defense, which had been mostly solid, couldn’t ultimately shut down the Jets’ second-string QB who led the drive for a late go-ahead field goal before the Jets came back to tie the score at 16-16.
After failing to score on the first possession of OT, the Bills lost the game by allowing Xavier Gipson to return a punt 65 yards for a touchdown. Special teams were a concern during the preseason. They continue to be a problem, as coach Sean McDermott acknowledged after the game.
2. Let’s get the ugliest part of the Bills’ performance out of the way here. Josh Allen threw three interceptions, all to Jordan Whitehead, and lost a fumble after a bobbled snap.
“I hurt our team tonight, I cost our team tonight,” Allen told reporters. “This feels eerily similar to last year and I hate that it’s the same.”
The first interception was forgivable, coming on third down and effectively serving as a punt that pinned the Jets deep in their own territory. The other two were inexcusable.
The second interception was a horrible decision by Allen to force a throw in the end zone to a well-covered Stefon Diggs. Whitehead grabbed it with ease. On the third, Allen made another questionable choice to try to thread a needle to Gabe Davis, and Whitehead stepped in front of the pass for an easy pick.
After taking his eye off a shotgun snap and bobbling it, Allen ran into a teammate and lost the ball to set up the field goal that gave the Jets a 16-13 lead with 1:48 left.
Allen also made a silly attempt to leap over defenders on a run and took an unnecessary hard hit.
3. Another big blemish on the Bills’ showing was difficulties stopping the run. The Bills gave up 172 rushing yards and an average of 6.1 yards per carry.
Breece Hall ran 10 times for 127 yards, an average of 12.7 yards per carry. That included a 26-yard-yard run on the Jets’ first play from scrimmage and an 83-yard carry, after Allen’s first interception, that set up a field goal.
Hall also caught a 20-yard pass that set up the Jets’ second field goal.
4. Other than the glitches against the run, the Bills’ defense was reasonably solid.
Granted, it was facing Wilson for most of the night. And he is no Rodgers. He finished with 14 completions in 21 attempts for 140 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception. Had Rodgers played the entire game, it's fair to think this could easily have been a lopsided loss for Buffalo.
Of course, the Jets’ offensive strategy changed dramatically with Wilson in the game rather than Rodgers. They took a mostly conservative approach that emphasized the run and short, high-percentage throws. That made it a bit easier for the Bills to play defense.
5. Over-the-top anticipation notwithstanding, it was only one of 17 games.
It was ugly. Very ugly. Allen, the Bills’ best player, couldn’t have played much worse.
But that was the best defense the Bills will probably face all season … until they face the Jets again.
There is plenty of opportunity for the Bills to right their ship, beginning Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders at Highmark Stadium. Still, they have to put an end to two disturbing trends: their ability to deal with the Jets' defense and Allen has to stop being a turnover machine.