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Buffalo Bills 21, New York Jets 34: Every dog has its day

We’re on to New Orleans.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This game sucked. If you care to know how, you can keep reading.

After eight weeks of disciplined play, winning the turnover battle, and building a 5-2 record, the Buffalo Bills regressed HARD to the mean against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Buffalo lost three fumbles, forgot how to block, and let the Jets run over their defense for nearly 200 yards. The Jets earned a satisfying underdog beatdown over the team who defeated them at the start of the season.

Through two quarters, the game was close. The Jets scored a touchdown on their second drive of the game, with quarterback Josh McCown catching the Bills in man coverage and running in a score. Two drives later, the Bills responded when Tyrod Taylor found Zay Jones in the end zone for the rookie’s first touchdown of his career. The Jets drove for a field goal on the next drive, and while the Bills had an opportunity for a score at the end of the half, Jordan Matthews knocked the ball out of his own hands, fumbling it to a Jets defender to end that drive.

The game came apart at the seams in the third quarter. The Bills, given the first possession after the half, managed one yard and punted on a three-and-out. They punted two more times and Nick O’Leary fumbled on a play where he thought he had been tackled, leaving Buffalo scoreless. On the other side, the Jets committed to their running game, ripped up some seams, and scored two touchdowns to extend their lead to 24-7. At times, it seemed like the Bills were harkening back to the Rex Ryan days and forgetting how to tackle.

In the fourth quarter, the Jets extended their lead until they were ahead 34-7. The Bills closed the gap with two touchdowns, but their onside kick luck ran out and they failed to tackle rookie running back Elijah McGuire and force another possession for the offense.

The Bill offensive line struggled badly against a Jets defense that wasn’t exactly dominating its other opponents. The Jets came into this game with 11 sacks on the season, then they racked up seven against the Bills. It didn’t matter whether it was Vlad Ducasse, Jordan Mills, or Cordy Glenn - all of the linemen played badly.

LeSean McCoy came out of the game for large chunks of time after touching the ball a season-high number of times last week against the Raiders. His replacement, Mike Tolbert, was the opposite of dynamic.

Referee Jerome Boger’s crew had a busy night. They called over 10 penalties on the Bills, and those penalties often ended up extending Jets drives. The Jets had favorable field position for the majority of the evening, and it kept the Bills in a difficult position on most of their offensive drives.

All in all, it just wasn’t Buffalo’s game. At 5-3, they lost a significant margin of error for their playoff hopes. They’re still ahead of most of the pack, but they need to win five of the remaining eight games to feel confident that they’ll end their playoff drought.

MVP: WR Zay Jones

Jones missed a number of snaps after hyperextending his knee, but he continued to show growth as a receiver. He caught six of seven targets for 53 yards and a touchdown, and looked like one of the few competent players on Buffalo’s roster tonight.

Adolphus Washington also had a solid game. He had two tackles for loss. Tyrod Taylor didn’t play badly, but he did lose a fumble late in the second half. His issue was mainly that the offensive line and receivers never gave him a chance to make any plays. Stephen Hauschka managed to kick two of three successful onside kicks, though the first was negated by a phantom penalty.

LVP: Everyone else

Jerry Hughes didn’t register on the stat sheet except for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for jawing at a referee. Ramon Humber, Lorenzo Alexander, and Preston Brown were gashed for yards by the Jets runners. Tre’davious White was beaten for a touchdown and committed a costly facemask penalty. Buffalo’s entire offensive line played badly. LeSean McCoy ran for 2 yards per carry. Jordan Matthews fumbled away one scoring opportunity. Nick O’Leary fumbled another. Mike Tolbert rushed four times for three yards.