After a quick start off the bye, the Bills lost a crucial big game to division rivals, the New York Jets at home by a score of 11 to 27. This result really hurts the Bills, who despite being tied for the division lead, lose the tie-breaker right now. In their lowest scoring effort of the year in a major defensive struggle, the Bills lacked the momentum and pop they enjoyed throughout the year. Jerryworld and Fishville will prove to be big games to recover in the next few weeks, but I feel confident that the Bills can capitalize and recover.
Run Offense: B-
Fred Jackson had his first fumble lost of the season and while he did not have a rushing touchdown, still had decent numbers with 18 carries for 82 yards (4.6 a carry). A crucial fourth down was missed. C.J. Spiller reappeared in the backfield, but could not get going. No Brad Smith wildcat against his former team... this time.
Pass Offense: D
Sore ribs and all, Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled in the first half. Going up against a top-notch secondary, the Bills had problems moving the ball. Fitz went 15 for 31 for 191 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions (first time he has thrown under 50% and have more picks than TDs). Stevie Johnson despite only catching three passes, did so for 84 yards. Fred Jackson only had 3 catches for 38 yards and David Nelson had 4 grabs for 36 yards and a TD. Donald Jones in his return had only 1 catch for 6 yards.
Blocking Offense: B-
On one hand the Bills rotating offensive line did not give up a sack. Pressure was still present, the offensive line missed a few key blocks including on a crucial fourth and short in the second half. DeMarcus Ware to face either Levitre, Hairston or Bell (if healthy) should be an interesting match-up.
Run Defense: B
Compared to their past history of defending the run against the Jets, the Bills defense was brilliant holding them to just 126 yards rushing. On the other hand, this is more than what the Jets have been averaging all season, with Greene averaging 4 yards a carry (76 total yards) while LT and Conner both had one yard TD plunges.
Pass Defense: C+
Smart Sanchez showed up and the secondary did well initially, but gave up plays late. Sanchez completed 71% of his passes and while Byrd picked off a pass in the end zone, McKelvin gave up a few big plays including a TD to Holmes. George Wilson almost had another interception.
Pass Rush Defense: D
Who would've thought that missing Chris Kelsay would be this big? The Bills only sacked Sanchez once after a ten-sack performance in Toronto via Alex Carrington (who incidentally is doing really well at DE). Dareus did recover a Sanchez fumble, but was otherwise bested by Manigold. The Jets have a great O-Line but pressure needs to happen if you want to stop opposing offenses early! 3-4 Pass rushers seems like a sure 1st or 2nd round pick in 2012.
Special Teams: D-
Despite having good players, DeHaven's special teams unit cannot seem to gel on kickoff coverage and may have paid the price after kicker Rian Lindell hurt his shoulder to stop McKnight on a potential KR TD. Lindell deserves props for sticking in there to make a 24 yard field goal, but then had to be pulled, leaving Moorman to unsuccessfully kick an onside kick. Moorman was good as usual. Brad Smith struggled averaging 19 yards on 4 kick returns.
On one side, George Edwards did a great job in the first half to limit the Jets to a field goal. But when the Bills have no offensive output until the last five minutes, odds are you will lose. Gailey needs to expand the game plan, something that is hard to do with Bell out and Jones coming off an injury, but all-the-while necessary to confuse opposing defenses. Some bad fourth call plays. The supposed play-makers, Spiller and Smith are underutilized and need more development and integration with the offense.